Police thwart land grab attempt in Banke, Bardiya

BANKE/ GAIDAKOT: Police today evicted cadres of All Nepal Landless Squatters' Association, aligned to UCPN-Maoist, from the land belonging to late Suryabhakta Adhikari of Gaindakot-2.

The Maoist cadres had announced the seizure of 52 ropanis land yesterday and distributed to the ‘350 squatters' families. Subsequently, they had started constructing huts in the land since last night.

A joint team comprising of personnel from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force chased the illegal squatters away from the private land. During the eviction drive, a scuffle was also ensued between the police and the squatters. The police fired three tear gas canisters and also charged batons.

According to deputy district in-charge of the UCPN-Maoist Drona Siwakoti, 10 Maoist cadres, including three women, have been injured in the police action.

The police had earlier warned the Maoists to leave the private land before using force. While, the Maoists too had said that they would not give in to the order.

The fleeing squatters also blocked the East-West Highway at Gaindakot for some time. A vehicle belonging to Surkhet-Jumla Road Construction Office was also vandalised.

Organising a press meet, the squatters' body condemned the police intervention. District leader Siwakoti claimed that they would seize the land again and settle the landless at any cost though the police evicted them from the area this time.

In another incident, a group of Maoist cadres, which reached to seize a land of Bardiya National Park, clashed with the local residents at Machhagadh area of Bardiya district today. Thirty people were injured in the melee.

The locals retaliated the Maoists after the latter turned up to seize the land of Janakalyan Madhyabarti Community Forest in Dhadawar VDC-6. According to Krishna Bahadur Oli, secretary of the forest users group, they had prevented the Maoists from capturing the forest. He also said that they retaliated after they came under attack by the Maoist cadres.

Locals Thakur Adhikar, Gutu Tharu, Durga Thapa, Dhami Kanchha, among others, have been injured in the incident. The locals claimed that the Maoists were armed with home-made weapons.

The injured are undergoing treatment at Teaching Hospital Kohalpur.

Prakash Sapkota, Police Inspector at DPO Bardiya, said that about 3,000 Maoist cadres, equipped with domestic weapons, reached the area to seize the land. They had been trying to seize the land since yesterday, however police deployed in the area foiled their capture bid. Inspector Sapkota added that three groups of the Maoist cadres had attempted to seize the land from three different points. According to him, the Maoists are demonstrating in the area now. Additional security personnel were deployed in the area to prevent any untoward incident.

According to Oli, some youths have left the village after the Maoists threatened of dire consequences.

Meanwhile, CDOs of Banke and Bardiya claimed that they would not allow anyone to seize private and public land on any pretext. Bardiya CDO Birendra Bahadur Baniya said, "Police personnel are put on standby for the purpose.''

Matrika's men follow suit

MAHOTTARI: Workers of CPN-Maoist led by Matrika Yadav seized vast swathes of private land in four VDCs of Mahottari district on Wednesday.

The party - a breakaway faction of the UCPN-Maoist -- announced seizure of 30 bighas land of Sushil Bikram Thapa, 20 bighas of Krishna Mainali, both in Timkiya Sonama VDC, 10 bighas of Raju Upreti and 8 bighas of Mahabir Das in Bhoil.

Following the seizure, the group said the land would be distributed to the landless. They also warned of physical action if their party flags were removed.

Prior to this, the party had also seized 18 bighas and 2 katthas land in Loharpatti-9 that belong to Raghubir Pandeya and Ratneshwor Pandeya. Likewise, they also announced such seizure of other 75 bighas land in Bhangaha VDC and 50 bighas which belong to Ram Lalit Singh and his family members in Hariharpur Harinamari VDC.

Shibasada Musahar, central member of Dalit Freedom Forum, a sister organisation of the party, said that the party had adopted the policy of distributing the captured land to the landless.

In a similar fashion, another group of the party seized public land in Katari VDC and a private land in Triyuga Municipality-1, Bokse on Tuesday. Pushpa Basnet, Kirant state committee coordinator, said 12 bighas of public land in Omtai of Katari-3, and 9 katthas of land belonging to Katak Bahadur Basnet in Bokse, were under their control now. Ten landless families were settled in the captured land in Bokse.