Plagued by Terai trouble, Nepal sends SOS to India


Kathmandu : Failing to control escalating violence in the Terai plains along the Indian border ahead of a critical election, Nepal government Wednesday sent an SOS to India that had in the past mediated between various parties and the Maoists with success.

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Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala held consultations with the Indian ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, about the continuing unrest in the Terai, security measures and the constituency election on Nov 22.

Mukherjee told the PM he would convey the concerns to New Delhi, private television channel Kantipur reported.

The meeting comes a week ahead of a fresh round of talks to be held between the government and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, one of the emerging forces in the Terai who are seeking to contest the election.

Upendra Yadav, chief of the Forum, had been lobbying for diplomatic support in the Indian capital as well as border states of India.

Nepal's unease stemmed from the fresh defiance showed by a faction of former Maoists, the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by 'Jwala Singh', who called a Terai closure Wednesday, disrupting life yet again in the turbulent plains.

After exploding a series of bombs in Siraha district to create fear, Singh's men Wednesday stabbed to death a municipal official, Ram Hari Pokhrel, whom they had abducted three days ago along with a school teacher, Govind Karki, and a civilian, Bed Prakash Sapkota.

The fate of the other two remained unknown.

Singh has also asked all government officials, who are from the hill communities, to leave the plains within a week or face dire consequences.

Agitated municipal employees began padlocking municipality offices, saying the closure would be enforced nationwide till the government was able to provide security to its employees.

In addition to the Terai violence, two pro-Maoist organisations, demanding autonomy, enforced a second shutdown in the east and west, affecting over a dozen districts.

In the east, protesters are demanding an autonomous state for the Limbu community, while the Tharus, one of the most disadvantaged groups, want an autonomous Tharu state in the mid and far west.

With four months to go before the crucial election, there has been no letup in the violence that has gripped Nepal since January.

The polls had to be postponed from June to November due to the prevailing anarchy.

Though the Maoists, who had waged a 10-year war, signed a peace pact last year, their success with the gun has inspired others to revolt in the southern plains.

Nearly 100 people have been killed in the Terai violence since early this year.