Maoists still keeping oil tankers in custody

Banke/Dang, February 26:

Nine petroleum tankers seized by the Maoists yesterday in Banke’s Agaiya have still not been released.

The Maoists took the tankers bound for Dang from Nepalgunj at 10:15 am yesterday. They contain 1,08,000 litres of petroleum products including petrol, diesel and kerosene, the Nepal Oil Corporation said.

According to locals, all tankers are still in Agaiya in the Maoists’ control. Drivers and helpers also have been captured. Head of the NOC’s regional office Nepalgunj, Pushkar Dutta, said cargo in the oil tankers is already sold to the dealers and urged the Maoists to free them.

Though human rights activists began negotiations with the Bheri zonal petroleum dealers’ association and Maoists today for the release of tankers, talks ended inconclusively, said rights activists.

Meanwhile, a report from Dang said, after the Maoists took control of the tankers from Agaiya, scarcity of petroleum products has hit Dang. The tankers were bound for Dang. Transportation service in the district is also been affected following the absence of petroleum products in some eight petrol pumps of Ghorahi and Tulsipur.

Sanjeevan Thakur, a petrol pump-owner in Ghorahi, said he had 12 thousand litres of diesel in the tankers that were taken into control by the Maoists. “There is not adrop of water,” government has made petrol pumps purchase petroleum products from Nepalgunj while Maoists captured the tanker thinking that they belonged to Nepal Oil Corporation, Thakur said.

“Three thousand litres of petrol and 3,000 litres of diesel of tankers seized by Maoists belonged to us, said Madhu Sudan Acharya, proprietor of KSM Traders in Ghorai. “There is no drop in volume of petroleum products in other pumps in Ghorai,” Acharya added. “I have been consuming petrol and diesel for my tractor and motorbike, bringing these from Nepalgunj,” said a Tribhuvan municipality based customer, Pradip Giri. He regretted the incident and added it was a waste of time travelling afar to purchase petroleum products

Dang-based reporter of Kantipur Daily, Sudarshan Rijal said he has been going to Nepalgunj for fuel.

The movement of vehicles in Dang has dropped after the scarcity of petroleum products in Dang. Representatives of dealers of petroleum products are trying to get the tankers released from the Maoists’ control. Oil entrepreneur Madhusudan Acharya said they were trying to free the tankers. The Nepal Oil Corporation (Tulsipur) said oil dealers who purchased the petroleum products from the corporation were trying to free the tankers from the control of Maoists.