Dastardly act

Those responsible for Monday’s landmine explosion, the bloodiest on civilians so far, that killed 38 people, including six of a family, and injured over 70 deserve nothing but the strongest words of condemnation. A bus carrying some 150 passengers blew up, as it hit a landmine planted by suspected Maoists in the Bandar Mudhe rivulet area near Basantapur of Madi, 45 km from Bharatpur, the headquarters of Chitwan district. Sixteen seriously injured passengers were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment. The casualties would have been even higher if sixty passengers had not had the miracle of being hurled out by the impact of the explosion, then landing on the sandy ground. Twelve soldiers were reported to be travelling in the bus.

Whatever the motives, any attack that causes such a huge loss of innocent lives is an act of barbarism that will cast a shadow over even the reasonable of the attackers’ demands. But they have succeeded in creating a widespread fear psychosis. To this extent, at least, the security apparatus of the state can be said to be less than effective. But these tactics cannot take the attackers too far in their objective of gaining power, as the international situation will not allow this. The foreign powers that count have made it clear more than once. The deterioration in the security situation may instead lead to foreign intervention with unpleasant consequences for the people as well as for the domestic political forces.

The killings have drawn widespread denunciation, including that from the CPN-UML, the Nepali

Congress and the UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Indeed, it is necessary for both the warring sides to take particular care to avoid exposing civilians to danger, and the international community should build pressure for this. This attack, on the other hand, strengthens the view of those who have been calling for a negotiated settlement of the present political crisis within a broader democratic framework. The continuation of the present deadlock is a recipe for making the disaster bigger and bigger for the country. Individual domestic political forces may try to further their narrow interests only at the cost

of national interests. Ultimately, they will end up being losers too.