Politically Counter-productive Moves
Two very upsetting incidents occurred last week. The death of three people in the Nepal police firing at Rajbiraj of Saptari district on March 6 and the killing of Govinda Gautam at Punarbas municipality-8 of Kanchanpur district by the Indian Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) on March 9 which sent shock waves across the nation. The Rajbiraj tragedy had occurred when the cadres of the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) tried to disrupt the mass gathering of the CPN-UML and the police resorted to gunfire to control the militant mob of the UDMF cadres whereas the Kanchanpur murder occurred when the SSB personnel fired from across the border at the Nepalese protesting the demolition of a culvert by India near the Nepal-India border. The culvert was constructed by the Nepalese and within Nepal’s territory and there was no reason for Indians to demolish it and the SSB to fire at the Nepalese who were protesting against the culvert demolition. But they did out of dominating attitude which is nothing new. The Kanchanpur incident only revived the slowly healing scar of the Indian blockade. While the Rajbiraj incident represents suicidal steps of the UDMF and UML, the Kanchanpur incident does so on the part of the SSB or India pertaining to the relations of the two neighbours.
Politics of negation
The Rajbiraj incident is the result of the politics of negation. No logic can justify the way the UDMF dispatched its cadres to disrupt the UML’s mass meeting. If the UDMF believes in multi-party democracy, it should allow others to do peaceful political activities in areas where it has the strength. The UML rank and file were there just to hold a peaceful mass meeting as part of their Mechi-Mahakali (east-west) Awareness Campaign.
It is understandable that the differences between the UDMF and UML over the constitution amendment bill has been running for long. It is also understandable that the UML itself had resorted to such politics of negation by not allowing the government to table the constitution amendment bill for over two months in the parliament. It is also in the record that the UML affiliated Youth Association had tried to disrupt the UDMF mass meeting in Itahari of Sunsari district in November 2015. But, any argument this way round would only leads us to continue violence. When the UML disrupted the parliament to bar the government from tabling the amendment bill, the UML move was denounced, and finally it allowed the government to table the bill.
There is no doubt that both the UML and UDMF are tilting toward a kind of extremism. The UML seems to be provoking nationalist extremism of hill origin while the UDMF is undoubtedly playing the card of Madhesi nationalist extremism. Otherwise the UDMF would not be bent on having only two provinces in the entire southern plains called Terai or Madhes and the UML would not oppose any changes in boundaries of province no. 4 and 5.
But their activities are sure to axe their own knees. It is the time to implement the federal republic constitution. The local poll is set for mid-May. If the UDMF claims that it is the force that contributed the most to the federal set up, it should also contribute to implementation of the federal constitution. If the UML thinks that it compelled the government to announce the local poll date, it should take such steps that help create political environment for the poll. The UDMF should know that the government has increased the number of local units as per their demands. They should also know that all of their demands are not going to be addressed simply because some of the demands, particularly the ones related to boundary change of provinces, are divisive. On the other hand, the UML should be flexible with regard to demands of the UDMF related to the rights of the Madhesi community. And in way should the UDMF disrupt the mass meeting of the other parties in the southern plains.
Knowingly or unknowingly the stances of the UML and the UDMF are serving the interest of the foreign powers that have been working to destabilise the country. The powers that do not want to see the implementation of the constitution may be working for one or both of them. There is possibility that their rigid stances will eventually lead to the postponement of the local poll. The UDMF has already said it would not participate in the poll until the amendment bill is endorsed, which is a weird stance. Such a stance is not going to help the UDMF. It should be ready to accept the result of the voting and the UML should participate in the voting over the bill. If they make such commitments at this time, the tensed situation will normalize soon and the poll environment will develop.
It was shocking to see the Indian embassy in Nepal refuting media reports and denying the SSB firing in Kanchanpur and killing of a Nepalese in his own country some hours after the incident. The Indian embassy or the Indian government should understand the situation and seek apology for the untoward incident. The southern neighbor should know that the government of Nepal has declared deceased Gautam a martyr, and it is a serious matter.
Gautam was killed by the SSB, India should book the culprit and compensate the aggrieved family in addition to making an apology and commitment to not repeat such incidents in future. It is not like an incident that occurred last year in Birgunj where an Indian national was killed in Nepal police firing at the protesters because the Indian national had mixed up with the Nepalese protesters and was pelting stone at the police in Nepal’s territory. That was not a cross border firing, but this one is, and such incidents of SSB harassment and brutalities have also occurred for many times at the border sides in the past.