Top Nepal Maoist leader’s daughter arrested in France

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : The daughter of a top Maoist leader in Nepal has been arrested in France for travelling without documents while seeking asylum from the French government.

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Shova Gajurel, whose father Chandra Prakash Gajurel is in charge of the international affairs of the Maoist party, is being held at the Lesquin Administrative Retention Centre in Lille town in northern France where foreigners found guilty of violating immigration laws are detained.

Shova was travelling to the France-Belgium border to meet friends when she was arrested last week near Valenciennes, a commune in northern France famed for its lace, the local committee formed to espouse her release said.

A member of the Nepal Maoist party, Shova had applied for asylum in France but her application was turned down.

She had re-applied, saying her life would be in danger if she returned to Nepal.

It was not clear immediately why she feels her life is endangered in Nepal since the Maoists are no longer a banned organisation. Both her parents and children are still living in Nepal.

The daughters of other senior Maoist leaders, like Maoist chairman and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda’s daughter Renu Dahal and former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai’s daughter Manushi, are actively involved in party work in Nepal.

In 2006, the Maoist party ended its guerrilla insurgency and returned to mainstream politics after which they won the election last year and led the government for eight months.

Maoist sympathisers in France are urging the Sarkozy government to grant Shova asylum, saying that since the fall of the Maoist government in May, the situation has become tense in Nepal.

They also allege that the Nepal Army, the Maoists’ arch enemy during the 10-year civil war, is vying for a bigger place in politics and yet another civil war may erupt in future.

Though Shova’s supporters in France say that Maoists are the target of killings, rape and torture, many of the killings and maimings committed after the signing of the peace pact are actually blamed on the former rebels.

Shova’s father C.P. Gajural was not available for comments.

Gajurel was caught in India’s Chennai Airport during the insurgency while trying to fly out to Germany on forged documents. He was jailed for three years and freed after the signing of the peace pact in 2006.