Terai rebels kill municipal officer in Nepal

October 25th, 2008 - 6:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 25 (IANS) As Nepal’s Maoist government failed to start negotiations with underground rebels from Terai even three weeks after the formation of a ministerial talks team, blood continued to spill in the restive plains with a municipal officer being gunned down Saturday.Ram Milan Gupta, municipal chief of Pipra village in southern Nepal’s Kapilavastu district, was shot dead in broad daylight in Pipra by motorcycle-borne assailants who fled after the attack.

The 45-year-old victim also headed the local association of municipal officials.

There was no official identification of the murderers though a television station said the local leader of an underground organisation of former Maoists had called up to acknowledge responsibility.

The Samyukta Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha is a faction of the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha that broke away from the Maoists during the Maoist insurgency to start a separate armed movement of its own in the Terai plains to wrest greater rights for Madhesis, people of Indian origin living in the plains.

The parent body has become greatly splintered since then with the newer factions accused of being more criminal in nature than political.

Gupta’s murder came 10 days after the killing of two political activists in the same district.

Two cadres of Terai party Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party (TMLP), the fifth largest in parliament, were killed in Kapilavastu on Oct 15. Their killers are still at large.

The TMLP had created a storm in parliament, boycotting it and demanding that the guilty be brought to justice.

It withdrew the protests this week only after an assurance by the government of Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

Though the Maoists, whose 10-year People’s War had killed over 13,000 people, laid down arms in 2006, Terai continues to be a hotbed of violence where now nearly 50 armed groups are spreading terror with regular killings, abductions and extortion.

Another Terai district Rautahat is still witnessing protests over the murder of a primary school teacher who was gunned down in his classroom this month.

Though the Prachanda government formed a three-member team headed by Peace and Reconstruction Minister Janardan Sharma, who is also a deputy commander of the Maoists’ guerrilla army, to begin pre-conditional talks with the Terai rebels, formal talks have not started yet.

They are likely to be further delayed now as next week Nepal shuts down again to celebrate the Diwali and Chhath festivals.

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