Revolutionary Worker #1148, April 28, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org
Since the end of November, the Royal Nepalese Army has been carrying out a brutal "search and destroy campaign" against the Maoist People's War. A "state of emergency" suspended all kinds of constitutional rights. Hundreds of people in the countryside have been rounded up, arrested, tortured and killed. The government has censored the media while spreading all kinds of disinformation. More than 70 journalists have been interrogated and arrested-- some for simply quoting Maoist leaders in their newspapers. The government has officially put the "terrorist" label on the leadership of the People's War, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), in order to justify all kinds of repressive and murderous measures.
News reports are mostly unreliable because they are based on government-issued and censored information. But it is clear that hundreds of guerrilla fighters and villagers have been killed by government soldiers in the last four months. Nepal's Chief of Army Staff Prajwalla SJB Rana has said that close to 900 "terrorists" have been killed in encounters since the end of November.
In the face of all this and despite the initial bragging by the government that it would quickly wipe out the insurgency, Maoist guerrillas have continued to carry out successful attacks against government forces. And as the fighting intensifies, the government of Nepal is increasingly looking to India for more help in its efforts to crush the People's War.
Indian intelligence and paramilitary forces have been put on maximum alert along the Nepal-India border, especially along the areas bordering the western districts of Nepal. Indian soldiers are doing massive security checks along the border, and authorities from both countries are working together to crack down on Maoists from Nepal who are crossing the border into India.
At the end of March Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba went to New Delhi to meet with India's Prime Minister Atal Behar Vajpayee and other top officials--with discussion of the Maoist People's War high on the agenda. India had already sent weapons and other military aid to Nepal to fight the guerrillas. And Deuba's trip to India further underscored just how much Nepal relies on India economically, politically and militarily.
Deuba's trip to India cemented further agreements through which India is being increasingly drawn more directly into helping Nepal counter the People's War. This is particularly true in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which borders Nepal. This area is directly south of the districts in Nepal where the Maoists are the strongest and have huge base areas where a new people's power has been established. The border between Nepal and India is very porous--millions of Nepalese who regularly work part of the year in India are constantly going back and forth across the border. And among the millions of Nepalese living in India there is much sympathy, support and ties to the People's War.
The Indian government is very worried about the growing Maoist revolution in a country it has long dominated and considers its own "backyard." And it is concerned about the People's War in Nepal "spilling over" the border.
There have been reports of Indian police in Uttar Pradesh handing over Nepalese Maoists who were injured and had gone across the border to get treatment in the cities of Lucknow, Kanpur and Gorakhpur. In April, the Kathmandu Post reported that Uttar Pradesh police had searched the houses of about 150 Nepalis suspected of providing shelter to Maoists who had crossed the border after intense fighting in Nepal. An Indian news web site reported that police in Uttar Pradesh had deported several suspected Maoists and were planning to crack down on nursing homes said to be treating injured Maoists. UP police are also demanding that hospitals only treat Nepalis if they produce identity cards and give detailed information about their situation.
The Nepalese government is also paving the way for permanent "state of emergency" type conditions by passing new "anti-terrorist" laws. The Home Minister announced that "security forces have already been ordered to shoot on sight anybody found involved in destructive activities." And the Lower House of Nepal's parliament passed the "Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (control and punishment) Bill, "which was first introduced as a Royal Ordinance at the time of declaring the state of emergency in November.
Among other things, the bill authorizes security forces to arrest people without warrant, and provides for a maximum penalty of life imprisonment with seizure of all property for those involved in "terrorist and destructive activities." The bill also proposes a special "anti-terrorism court" to deal with cases related to terrorism charges.
This bill is similar to India's recently passed POTO (Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance), which authorizes security forces to detain people without warrant and provisions for life imprisonment and seizure of property of those involved directly in "terrorist activities."
The orders allow political parties to hold public meetings--only if a District Administration Officer grants permission and only if the meetings do not directly or indirectly help the Maoists. The bill allows the publication or transmission of news-reports, articles or commentaries--only if they are not found to "aid terrorism."
Taking a page from the U.S. "war on terrorism," Nepal's government is enforcing the logic that "a terrorist is anyone we say is a terrorist" and "anyone who shows them an ounce of sympathy is suspect."
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