Peace minister assures action on the Tarai pact

Kathmandu, December 27:

Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ has said that the government would start implementing the agreements signed on February 28 between the government and the Madhesi parties within a week.

He, however, said the issues that needed the approval of Constituent Assembly would be settled by the apex body itself. Minister Sharma was addressing an interaction organised by the Nepal Madhes Foundation on ‘Madhes Dialogue: Problems and Direction.’ His statement came at a time when Madhesi parties are demanding the implementation of agreements so as to assure the armed groups that the government was serious about its commitment and if an agreement was signed with the armed groups, that would also be implemented.

He said the government was honestly trying to hold a dialogue with the armed groups. Sharma said he encountered difficulties holding dialogue with the armed groups, as the major political parties had not made public their views regarding the dialogue. Admitting a nexus between some of the police personnel and the armed insurgents, Sharma said there was a need of coordination between his ministry and the home administration.

He said the government wanted to hold dialogue with all the armed groups together but due to differences among the armed groups that had not been possible.

He said the government would hold dialogue with at least three armed groups in two to three days.

A majority of speakers urged the government to take mainstream Madhesi parties into confidence in order to hold meaningful dialogue with the armed groups.

Ram Kumar Sharma, Constituent Assembly member of the Tarai Madhes Democratic Party, said taking three Madhesi parties (Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, TMDP and the Sadbhawana Party) into confidence was necessary to assure the armed groups that the government was serious about the dialogue. He advised the government not to hesitate to seek help of India or UNMIN if there were a need to hold dialogue with the armed groups.

Sadbhawana Party CA member Manish Kumar Suman accused the government of being ill-prepared for the dialogue.

He said the government should revoke red corner notice against the cadres of armed groups, declare a ceasefire for the dialogue period and set free their cadres. Nepali Congress leader Pradip Giri said the government needed to address the problems of Madhes in order to tame the armed insurgents and quell violence in the southern plains.

He said the security personnel were incompetent to handle the armed insurgency.

Tula Narayan Shah, president of the Nepal Madhes Foundation, said the government had done little groundwork to hold talks with the armed groups. He said the different stakeholders, particularly three Madhesi parties, civil society and major political parties of the country, needed to make their position on dialogue clear so as to find a negotiated settlement to the problems of Madhes.

Human rights activist Krishna Pahadi warned that violence might flare up across Madhes if the government did not resolve the matter on the talks table.

Journalist Prashant Jha said collusion between some police personnel and armed insurgents and extra judicial killings had aggravated the security situation across the Tarai.

Another journalist, Kanak Mani Dixit, said the stakeholders needed to analyse whether the armed groups were able to operate unhindered because some of the political parties were aiding them or maintaining neutrality.