Maoists call shutdown in Terai


Kathmandu : Maoist guerrillas in Nepal, now part of the ruling alliance, Wednesday shut down a key town in the plains to protest against the killing of a comrade.

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Even as several international envoys expressed serious concern at the growing violence and absence of law and order in the Terai region, Rajbiraj town in Saptari, a frontier district in southeast Nepal touching the Indian border, was shut down by the rebels to show their anger at the killing of a local leader of their party.

Dashrath Thakur, a senior member of the rebels' peasants' wing and also known as Rohit, was abducted earlier this week by a band of former Maoists.

His body was found in a forest Tuesday, triggering outrage among the guerrillas.

Matrika Prasad Yadav, senior Maoist leader from Saptari, who is also the current forest and soil conservation minister, blamed the home ministry for the continued attacks on his party cadres in the plains.

Yadav, who had earlier locked horns with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala with his allegation that security forces were in cahoots with criminals, reiterated the allegation.

Since the Maoists signed a peace pact with the ruling alliance last year and this year joined the government, a fierce rivalry has been brewing in the plains between them and two factions of former Maoists, who call themselves the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha.

The Morcha split from the parent party under the leadership of veteran Maoist leader Jaykrishna Goit, accusing the rebels of exploiting the plains people to capture power and not doing anything to address their plight.

Since the split, the Morcha itself had a rift with a group breaking away under Jwala Singh.

The Goit and Singh factions, both armed, have been spreading terror in the plains by attacking Maoists as well as government officials and civilians.

Both were recently declared terrorist organisations by the US government.

Last month, the Goit group, which claimed responsibility for Thakur's murder, had abducted a group of engineers working on a development project and killed one of them.

The killing triggered a warning from the World Bank, funding the project, saying it would stop assistance if the government failed to provide security to project staff.

The UN mission in Nepal, the US and the European Union ambassadors in Nepal have expressed concern at the fragile security situation in Nepal, especially with elections due in November.