Three things

Three things relating to the Maoists hit front-page headlines in yesterday’s newspapers — the Maoist decision to revive their jana sarkar (people’s government); the second was the attack on Congress MP and former minister Dilendra Prasad Badu; and the third was the police raids on three YCL offices in the Kathmandu Valley. The United Revolutionary People’s Council headed by Maoist leader Dr Baburam Bhattarai decided to reactivate the council “to help carry out development work and resolve problems facing the people at the local level”. The rationale offered for the decision was the failure to reactivate the local bodies as per the November 23 SPA accord. Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the then government and the CPN-Maoist, the council had been dissolved. The Nepali Congress’s Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat and the CPN-UML’s Rajendra Pandey have criticised the Maoist step as going against the CPA. UNMIN chief Ian Martin has called the revival a breach of the CPA.

Badu, along with several others, has been undergoing treatment in the capital after he had been assaulted in Darchula, and the house where he was having lunch stoned, allegedly by Maoist cadres, for his ‘illegal entry into their base area’ to address a mass meeting. An inquiry should be instituted into the incident to bring out the whole truth and pin down guilt. The law should be allowed to take its course to bring to book those who are found guilty. Similarly, the raids on the YCL offices appear to be unnecessary provocations. Similar raids had been carried out on a couple of YCL offices in the Valley some months ago. On both occasions, the police returned empty-handed. For the enforcement of law, raids sometimes become necessary, but there should be reasonable grounds for such actions. According to C P Gajurel, a Maoist central leader, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, in his party’s query about the raids, had said that the police ‘had stopped taking orders from him’. If Gajurel is right, the state of affairs is really worrying.

All three issues need to be sorted out through talks — accusations and counter-accusations will hardly be wise or helpful ahead of the April 10 election to the Constituent Assembly. Each other’s complaints, points of view and explanations should be patiently heard, and solutions found on the basis of the agreements and understandings reached so far in connection with the peace process. On one front, at least, the Maoists leave considerable room for improvement — their cadres have at times become unruly and resorted to physical action against opponents or those who they think have done wrong. Correction in this respect is necessary also for the party’s better public image. No signatory to the CPA should violate its provisions and spirit. The alleged Maoist violation needs to be judged in this light. What is even more important is whether the council’s ‘lending a hand to local development work’ will be a harmless exercise or something of a parallel government. If the latter, it will be even harder to accept.