Bank building in Maoists’ clutches

Rupandehi, November 17:

Maoist cadres have been occupying a building belonging to the Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB) in Butwal-6. With the ascension of the CPN-Maoist to power, people were hopeful that Maoist cadres would end the seizure of public buildings. But this has not happened.

Maoist cadres have been running the offices of their sister organisations in the 15 room-building.

“The Rupandehi District Administration Office and the bank had written twice to the Maoists, asking them to return the building, to no avail,” sources in the bank said.

Bhakta Bahadur Karki, manager of the bank’s Khasyauli branch, said the Maoists were turning a deaf ear to the bank’s requests. “The Maoists have been occupying the building since mid-April, 2006,” said the manager, adding that the branch was the owner of the building.

Earlier, the building used to house a regional office of the bank. The regional office has shifted its base to Pokhara.

“Some 18 months ago, the bank had entered into an agreement to sell the building to the Bhairahawa branch of the Employees’ Provident Fund at a cost of Rs 19 million. But the process has come to a stop after the Maoists occupied the building,” an official at the EPF’s Bhairahawa office said.

However, Madhav Sharma, secretary of the Abadh Rajya Committee of the Maoists, said they were occupying the building because the party wanted to buy it. Rajendra Bhandari, branch officer of the EPF branch office in Bhairahawa, said the branch wanted to move to the new building. “We will move to the building once the Maoist cadres vacate it,” said Bhandari.

Bank manager Karki said they could not sell the building to other parties because they had agreed to sell the building to the Employees’ Provident Fund. He said the Maoists used to force the bank to pay water and electricity tariffs. He also said the former rebels had yet to return a vehicle belonging to the bank.