Three killed as rebels declare war on Nepal polls

March 19th, 2008 - 5:18 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 19 (IANS) With the crucial election just 22 days away, the first anti-poll violence erupted in Nepal, killing three people, including a contestant, and raising fresh doubts about the twice-postponed polls. Kamal Prasad Adhikari, a nominee from the leftist Rastriya Jana Morcha party, died early Wednesday after being gunned down at his residence in Betahani village in Banke district, midwestern Nepal.

Three gunmen raided Adhikari’s house around midnight Tuesday, shooting him in the chest, stomach and hand.

Adhikari, who was in the direct poll fray from constituency 2 in Banke, died in the morning while being taken to the regional Bheri Hospital.

Soon after his death, a band of former Maoists claimed responsibility for the slaying.

The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by former Maoist Nagendra Paswan alias Jwala Singh said it had killed Adhikari as part of its anti-poll campaign.

Adhikari’s family said he had been receiving threatening calls, asking him to withdraw from the fray or face dire consequences.

As news of the murder spread, the Election Commission in Kathmandu called an emergency meeting of officials to decide the fate of the constituency.

The murder caused the Maoists to put off an election campaign in Nepalgunj, the main town in Banke.

Their supremo Prachanda, who had arrived in the town to address the rally, went to the slain rival leader’s residence to offer his sympathies to the stricken family.

The Maoists themselves lost two cadres in Rolpa, the cradle of the Maoist movement in the 90s.

Bhakta Bahadur B.K. and Tek Bahadur Buda were shot dead Tuesday night in the remote, midwestern district from where Prachanda is fighting the April 10 election.

Till Wednesday afternoon, no one had claimed responsibility for the two murders.

The killings raised an echo of the scenario in 2006, when King Gyanendra had tried to hold a local election and the Maoists had warned they would disrupt it.

Four armed groups active in the Terai plains have formed an alliance, declaring they would not allow the exercise to be held in the southern plains till their demands are fulfilled.

Besides the Morcha, the other three are the Terai Mukti Tigers, Terai Cobra and Samyukta Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha.

The alliance has announced a programme of armed protests that starts from Wednesday.

They have warned they would set off explosions in key towns in the Terai and from March 25 start “physical action” against contestants and Election Commission staff.

The alliance has also called a two-day closure in the Terai as a show of strength on March 28-29.

The final attack on the election, they say, starts from April 7, when they would enforce an indefinite general strike, followed by a transport strike and road blockade on April 9-10.

The alliance is demanding an autonomous Terai or Madhes province in the plains ahead of the election.

There are also growing incidents of Maoist cadres attacking their two biggest rivals, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress members and Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist’s cadres.

They have also disrupted or prevented the election rallies of two parties known to be supporters of monarchy, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and Rastriya Janashakti Party.

The growing violence ahead of the polls sends out fresh negative signals about the twice-postponed election.

The polls could not be held in June and November last year due to the mounting lawlessness in the Terai and Maoists’ opposition.

There is growing fear that with both Koirala’s party and the Maoists fearing a rout in the election, there could be a conspiracy to foment violence and stop the polls again.

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