Tarai outfit smokes peace pipe

Janakpurdham, December 26:

The first round of formal talks between the government and Sanyukta Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (SJTMM) concluded here today.

Coordinator of the government talks team Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ and coordinator of SJTMM Sanjay Kumar Gupta (Kautilya Sharma) reached a five-point understanding today. Coordinators of both the sides said the understanding paved the way for next round of talks.

At the nearly two-hour long talks, the government expressed its commitment to ensure security for the members of the talks team throughout the dialogue period and to treat leaders and cadres of the SJTMM in a political way. Likewise, the SJTMM agreed to suspend its armed and provocative activities.

The meeting also agreed that the government would gradually release SJTMM cadres detained in different prisons after receiving name list from the SJTMM. As per the agreement, the SJTMM will also encourage other armed outfits to sit for talks.

As per the agreement, the SJTMM would put forth its demands in the next round of talks scheduled in Kathmandu. Both the sides agreed to fix date for the talks and appointment of facilitators, if needed, on mutual consultation.

Minister Sharma, who was the only government representative in the talks, and Gupta signed the understanding. However, all three members of the SJTMM talks team were present in today’s talks.

Minister Sharma said he also held informal talks with two other Tarai outfits -- Madhesh Janakranti Party and Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha-Raja faction -- at the sidelines of today’s talks. “The formal talks with these groups will be held shortly,” he added.

Meanwhile, the first phase of talks with the Sanyukta Janakranti Party (SJP) is scheduled to be held in Kathmandu on Monday. The date was fixed following the talks between Minister Sharma and the talks team of the SJP. “We decided to hold talks in the capital on Monday. We will reach Kathmandu by Sunday,” SJP talks team’s coordinator Anurag said.