Former Maoists declare war on Indian gang


Kathmandu : A group of former Maoists have declared war on an Indian gang preying on businessmen in the border towns of Nepal, warning that they would attack gang members lodged in a key prison if it did not stop criminal activities.

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The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM), a band of former Maoist guerrillas that was recently banned as a terrorist organisation by the US government, has decided to take on the gang of Indian warlord Chhotelal Sahani, that has been unleashing terror in Nepal's frontier town Birgunj and its neighbouring areas.

Though Sahani was captured by the Indian police and is now behind bars in Bihar's Motihari district, people calling themselves his henchmen have continued to extort businessmen, resorting to broad daylight attacks on those who refused to pay up.

Last week, a Birgunj businessman of Indian origin, Vijay Shankar Hada, was shot by miscreants. He is currently under treatment in Kathmandu's Maharajgunj Teaching Hospital.

A month ago, Hada is said to have received threatening phone calls from a man calling himself Sanju Baba, allegedly the right hand of Sahani.

Most of the extortion calls are made from mobile phones with Indian numbers.

Though the beleaguered businessmen have been urging both the Nepal and Indian governments to crack down on the marauding gangs, the security situation continues to be lax in the border towns.

A private radio station, Himalayan Broadcasting Corporation, Sunday said more than 20 businessmen had wound up their activities in Birgunj and shifted either to India or capital Kathmandu.

With the government failing to combat the menace, the JTMM, who are demanding an autonomous state for people of Indian origin in Nepal's southern terai plains, has now taken it upon itself to play Robin Hood.

Pahal Sinha, a JTMM leader in Birgunj, has issued a warning asking the Sahani gang to stop its activities in the town, the radio station said.

Else, it has warned that it will take revenge on the gang members awaiting trial or imprisoned in Birgunj jail, the report said.

The plummeting law and order situation in the plains last month caused Nepal's Election Commission to say it would not be possible to hold the elections for a constituent assembly on June 20, as promised by Nepal's eight-party government.

Though Nepal's 10-year Maoist insurgency formally ended last month with the Maoist guerrillas joining the government, criminal gangs, bands of former Maoists and other armed groups have kept the plains simmering.