Nepal seems to see no respite from the subversive activities carried out time and again by armed outfits to achieve their ends. In the latest episode, nine persons were injured, including two seriously, in an improvised explosive device (IED) explosion at the Land Revenue Office in Lahan, Siraha Sunday afternoon. One of them even had to be airlifted to Kathmandu by the Nepali Army for treatment. The Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), led by Jai Krishna Goit, has owned responsibility for the explosion of the pressure cooker bomb. The outlawed group, in a press statement, has threatened to carry out more severe activities if the rampant corruption is not checked in the country, especially in the Tarai.
Let us hope Nepal is not witnessing a resurgence of those violent activities that brought the country to a standstill
The group had been lying dormant for nearly a decade, not since at least four people were killed and 18 others were injured in a bomb explosion during a political rally in Janakpur. What is worrisome is that the latest incident comes at a time when the country's political situation is rather fluid, with no one having a clue as to how to get the nation out of the mess that it has fallen into.
The JTMM was formed in 2004 after splitting from the then CPN (Maoist) that had been waging a war against the state since 1996. The JTMM had accused the latter of not guaranteeing autonomy for the Tarai region. However, just two years later, the JTMM split, and a former CPN cadre, Nagendra Singh Paswan 'Jwala Singh', formed his own party, Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha - Jwala Singh.
Both the groups have pursued their own strategies for the establishment of an independent Tarai state, engaging in armed conflict and even assassination of each other's cadres. Armed groups in the Tarai are, however, not limited to the JTMM.
During and after the Maoist insurgency, the Tarai belt saw a proliferation of small armed groups like the Madhesi Mukti Tigers, Samyukta Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha, Liberation Tigers of Tarai Elam, Tarai Cobras, Madhesi Virus Killers, Tarai Army and the National Defence Army. As a result, violence and extortion erupted in the Tarai in the years just before the writing of the new constitution in 2015.
Let us hope Nepal is not witnessing a resurgence of those violent activities that brought the country to a standstill. However, history and more recent developments show that there is no alternative to peaceful politics, especially now that the new constitution has encompassed the demands of the ethnic groups.
Madhesi leader C.K. Raut too was once active in the Alliance for Independent Madhes, trying to establish a country for the Madhesi people. However, he saw the futility of his venture and gave up violence two years ago to join mainstream politics. More recently, the Nepal Communist Party led by Netra Bikram Chand surrendered its weapons and vowed to start peaceful politics after engaging for years in murder, extortion, arson and destruction of both government and private infrastructure projects and property. The JTMM too must be brought into the fold of mainstream politics, and everyone, including the government, opposition parties and rights groups, must play their part in doing so.
Milk powder plant
It is good news for the farmers that they will no longer have to observe milk holidays, spill their milk on the streets, sell it at a low price or even distribute it for free when demand for milk goes down for reasons beyond their control. The Bagmati provincial government is setting up a milk powder plant at Hetauda at a cost of Rs 412 million. Once the plant comes into operation, it will collect around 60,000 litres of milk from the nearby districts to produce about 5 tonnes of powder milk every day.
Currently there are three milk powder plants in the country. But they have not been able to meet the national demand, which stands at around 4,000 tonnes of powder milk annually. The new powder plant is expected to bridge the gap of demand and supply. Till date, the farmers, whose livelihood depends on livestock rearing, have had to rely on the DDC or other private dairies to sell their produce. But they cannot purchase excess milk produced by the farmers as they do not the facility to produce powder milk. Powder milk can be easily converted into liquid when there is a shortage of fresh milk in the market. The farmers also will not have to worry about surplus milk as the plant will buy it at a price fixed earlier.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 16, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.