Terror in Nepal’s Terai as armed group’s ultimatum ends

December 20th, 2008 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 20 (IANS) Terror stalks Nepal’s lowlands with the expiry of an ultimatum given by an armed group to hill communities to quit the plains and the murder in retaliation of a civilian Friday night.”We had warned all hill community people to quit the Terai region by Thursday,” underground armed outfit Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) said in a press statement issued late Friday night. “As they ignored the warning, acting on orders given by the party’s in-charge in Sarlahi district, our Sarlahi platoon commander today took action against Prakash Rizal at 8 p.m.”

The JTMM is headed by Rajan Mukti, who says he is fighting for autonomy for Madhesis - people of Indian origin living in the Terai plains along the India-Nepal border.

Though the Rajan faction had expressed willingness to begin dialogue with the government headed by the Maoists, a former guerrilla outfit itself, the ministerial team so far had failed to engage the major underground organisations active in the Terai in talks.

The situation turned volatile after police Thursday raided Rajan’s house in Janakpur town in the plains and arrested his father Dayanand Jha and his elder brother Manoj.

Since the fall of King Gyanendra’s army-backed government in 2006, violence has been escalating in the Terai with bands of former Maoists starting underground movements for an autonomous or completely independent Terai.

The Madhesi struggle has widened the rift between the plains people and the hill community, who have been dominating the government, judiciary and army.

A second prominent Terai outfit headed by former Maoist Jwala Singh also issued a separate statement saying hill people had till Feb 4 to leave the plains or else face action.

Singh also said that his organisation would start burning Nepali caps, worn by the hill residents, from Friday and during the next few days, would prevent the hoisting of Nepal’s flag and destroy the statues of Nepal’s former rulers, who hailed from the hill community.

The former Maoist said that the protests were necessitated by the government failing to meet his party’s minimum criteria for opening talks. These include giving an assurance of safety to his cadres and party leaders while engaging in dialogue and returning the property the Maoists had captured in the plains during the 10-year armed insurrection.

The statement warned that if the basic conditions laid down by his party were not met by the government within 15 days, the protests would escalate.

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