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Nepal Maoists turn their guns on India

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu : Alarmed by an alliance between two Terai parties, which could further erode their support base in southern Nepal, Maoist guerrillas are now accusing India of funding the new group – an allegation denied by New Delhi.

The Maoist mouthpiece, the Janadisha daily, Monday said in a front-page report that New Delhi was providing funds and training an “army”, the Madhesh Raksha Vahini, in the volatile plains along the Indian border.

It said a former minister, Rajendra Mahato, and a newly registered party, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, had been taking on the Maoist guerrillas in the Terai.

Mahato, a former minister for commerce, industry and supplies, who resigned in a huff after a feud in his Nepal Sadbhavana Party and floated his own faction, got Nepali Rs.3 million (about $47,000) from the Indian embassy in Kathmandu to create the Vahini in association with the Forum, the Maoist daily alleged.

Referring to unnamed sources, it also alleged that India had agreed to give military training to about 200 members of the “army” on Indian soil. But it added that the Indian embassy had denied providing any support.

The embassy also separately dismissed the Maoist report.

“We would not like to dignify such a story with our comments,” Indian embassy spokesman Gopal Baglay told IANS.

The allegations come after the Mahato faction allied with the Forum in Rautahat district, one of the most troubled areas in the Terai, to begin an indefinite closure from Sunday.

Earlier this year, clashes between the Forum and Maoists in the district had killed more than 20 people, mostly Maoist supporters.

The rebels have been demanding that the government punish the perpetrators and police arrested over 100 people.

The Forum alleges that police have falsely implicated its followers and called the protest to press for their release.

Mahato’s exit from the ruling party alliance, of which the Maoists too were once a part, and forming an alliance with the Forum, who bitterly oppose the Maoists, has alarmed and angered the rebels.

The growing violence in the Terai and diminishing support for the Maoists has caused a crucial election, regarded as the key to establishing peace and political stability, to be delayed indefinitely.

In 2005, India brokered a pact between the Maoists and the opposition parties after King Gyanendra seized power through an army-backed coup.

Though the pact ended the 10-year Maoist insurgency and brought the rebels into a new coalition government, the guerrillas are now blowing hot and cold towards India, lashing out at it for asking for speedy polls.