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Nepal Update No. 16: The going gets tougher for the Army in dealing with Maoists

 

Note no. 144                             28.01.2002

by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan

After initial success in the counter insurgency operations against the Maoists, the army is finding it tougher to deal with the Maoists.  Incidents relating to attacks on civilians, political leadership of all hues and chairmen of various VDCs in the insurgent strongholds have continued unabated.  There have been few incidents where the army patrols have been ambushed resulting in casualties.  Use of IEDs (Improvised explosive devices) has increased.  Many Police outposts have also been attacked.  Of particular interest is that the Maoists have also started targeting UML workers and leaders at local levels.

One major incident was the destruction of the airport and the hospital in Rukum on 10th January.  Another incident just reported was their attack, on 26th January when they bombed the houses of Krishna Mohan Shrestha, chief of Armed Police Force (APF) and Garud Shumsher JB Rana, retired Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Nepal Army in Chainpur Bazar, Sakhuwasabha district, leaving them completely destroyed. 

In spite of an "insurgency situation", Nepal succeeded in having an incident free SAARC summit which managed to pass an acceptable declaration against terrorism.  Colin Powell’s visit was another success story for the government.  Colin Powell in his brief visit met the top brass of the Royal Nepal Army during which the US assistance on military hardware to combat terrorism was discussed

In our last Update No. 15 we had said:

"The military operation will have to go simultaneously with other initiatives like opening of the remote villages and economic support . . . It is hoped that the Nepal government will not look at the Maoist problem purely as a military one in the weeks to come."

There is no evidence yet that the government is moving away from treating the problem as purely a law and order one.  The result in the long term will be devastating and a mid course correction is necessary now.

The King appears to be aware of the problem.  In one of his rare interviews to the media, he said " A state of emergency is not what I had wanted.  Rather, it is the product of a situation which had no alternative.  At the moment, the Nepalis are fighting against each other.  This is deeply hurting me.  Security does not mean only the army and the guns.  It also means clothing, medicine, education, etc.  We need to pay attention to these kinds of security as well."

He also said "Our society has been over politicized.  This is not good.  The nation cannot make progress if everybody is to politicize every issue."  Coming from a pro active King, these words acquire an ominous dimension.

With the declaration of an emergency and the directive issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications to the Press what to publish and what not to publish (see appendix of previous update no 15), it has been difficult to ascertain the full details of incidents involving Maoist insurgents.  At the most, the media sticks to the government version in terms of body counts.  Yet South Asia Analysis Group has been able to piece together various incidents which can be called neither complete nor fully accurate.

Though we have stuck to the term insurgents/Maoists in describing the Maoists in the appendix but, from the mindless killings they have indulged in, it is becoming clear that what they are practising is pure terrorism.  From the next update onwards, we propose to use the term terrorists.

Monitoring committees galore.  In their fight against Maoists, the Cabinet formed a main committee and five sub committees to coordinate and manage the state of emergency.  The main committee is to be headed by the Minister for Physical Planning (Chiranjeev Wagle) and the sub committees by other ministers.

The Nepali Congress formed a high level monitoring committee with Sushil Koirala as convener and Govinda Raj Joshi, Basudev Risal, K.S. Gurung and Chakra Prasad Bastola as members. While fully supporting the government in its fight against Maoists the party wanted to ensure that the human rights of all are protected and preserved.

The main opposition party, the UML formed a five member task force headed by Rajendra Prasad Pandey to monitor incidents occurring in the country during the period of emergency.  The task force in its very first report alleged that the government side had "misused the emergency" powers and also killed innocent civilians and UML activists.  The political parties are yet to learn that at the time of crisis like the Maoists insurgency which threatens to destabilise the country, they will have to stand together to fight the enemy from within.

Not to be outdone, the National Human Rights Commission headed by Nayan Bahadur Khatri met the Prime Minister on December 20 and urged him to let the people exercise their minimum human rights without any restriction even during the state of emergency.  The next day a seven point memorandum was given to the Home minister by a delegation of HURON ( Human rights organisation of Nepal) calling for respect to human rights.  It is hoped that HURON will also make a similar appeal to the Maoists to respect human rights. In one of the bizarre incidents the Maoists cut off a leg of a civilian, Rameshwar Pokhrel, the Head master of Sharda High School in Khoplang VDC in the second week of January.

Even the Amnesty International was not spared by the Maoists.  On 5th December, the house of Hikmat Thapa, General Secretary of Amnesty International, Nepal was bombed and destroyed.

Appendix:

Date: Incidents

November 2001

8:    In Dolpa, the Maoist insurgents killed Bhim Bahadur Rawal of the Liku VDC whom they had abducted on November 1.

9:     In Sindhupalchok, the insurgents abducted UML activists Bhujung Lama from the Nabalpur VDC.

11:    The insurgents brutally manhandled Pemba Rinj Lama, an activist of the UML and ex-Chairman of the Janubesi VDC of Solukhumbu.

12:    In Sindhuli, the insurgents abducted Chandra Bahadur Rai, Chairman of the Pipalmadi VDC.

In Ramechhap, insurgents attacked once again the house and property of the widow of Bhuwan Shrestha, whom they had killed last year, at the Pokali VDC.

13:     In Makwanpur, the insurgents abducted UML activists Narayan Prasad Timilsina, who  is also Vice-Chairman of the Dhimpal VDC.

14:     In Humla, the Maoist insurgents abducted Hasta Bahudur Shahi, a local UML leader.

In Kailali, an armed group of Maoist insurgents looted guns from three houses at the Durgoli VDC.  The insurgents also looted the house of an UML worker at Bhattendanda Chhapoli of Lalitpur.

In Udayapur, two Maoist insurgents were arrested from the Hadiya Bazar area when they were extorting money.

17:    In Phidim, the insurgents released Khagendra Khaling whom they had abducted from the Amarpur VDC on October 30 after the local administration released on bail two of their comrades whom the local people had captured and handed over to the police.

19:    In Kailali, the insurgents set fire to an abandoned police post at the Narayanpur VDC.

20:     In Kailali, two insurgents were arrested on charge of destroying the Sattibazar Police post

23:     In Dang, nine policemen and 14 army men were killed and several others injured when the Maoists attacked the area police post, the army barrack of the Bhagawati Prasad Gulma, the CDO office, and other offices.

The insurgents also kidnapped the Chief District Officer (CDO) and the deputy Superintendent of police, but released them later.

In Syangja, 14 policemen were killed and nine other injured when the Maoists attacked and bombed the District Police Office.  The insurgents also looted arms and ammunition.  They set fire 34 inmates of the District Jail and also bombed several bank and finance company offices and looted more than Rs 150 million in cash.

At Tulsipur Chowk, four civilians, including two women and an infant, were killed, and at least three others seriously injured.

In Surkhet, the insurgents bombed and destroyed a parked helicopter of the Asian Airlines at the Surkhet Airport.  Two other helicopters parked nearby also suffered minor damages.

In Kathmandu, the army and the police foiled the Maoist attempts to blow up the depot of the Nepal Oil Corporation.

24:     A reinforcement of the police and the army from Pokhara was ambushed about 8 kilometers near the Machhapuchhre Viewpoint Lodge. About a dozen policemen were injured in the ambush.

25:    In Terhathum, the insurgents burnt three police posts.

In Surkhet, four members of the armed police force and a driver were killed when the truck carrying the personnel of the armed police force fell into an ambush laid by the Maoists at Kalidmar Mangde in the Kohalpur-Surkhet section of the Ratna Highway.

In the night, the Maoists attacked Salleri, headquarters of Solukhumbu, targeting at the District police Office, the District Administration Office, the residence of the Chief District Officer, the land Tax Office, and the Phaplu District Airport.  The Chief District Officer, Buddhi Sagar Tripathi, the Land Tax Officer, Som Bahadur Sambahamphe, 27 policemen, including two inspectors, and five armymen were killed and several other policemen and armymen were injured.  The insurgents looted some weapons from the District Police Office and about Rs 21 million in cash, gold and silver from the local branch of the Rashtriya Banijya Bank.

26:     In Pyuthan, a truck carrying army personnel was ambushed by the Maoists.  Two armymen were killed and at least eight injured.

In Gorkha, the insurgents shot dead a VDC Chairman.

29:    In Kathmandu, a group of armed terrorists detonated two powerful bombs in the factory of Coca-Cola in the Balaju Industrial Estate.

In Chautara, the Maoist terrorists abducted Hari Kumar Sharma, Vice Principal of the local school and Central Committee member of the Nepal Teachers Association.

30:   In Charikot, the Maoist terrorists killed a NC cadre at the Shekham VDC.

December 2001

1-4:    The terrorists caused minor damages to government vehicles in some parts of Kathmandu.  They also exploded bombs at Kalimati, Balaju, Swayambhu and other areas in the capital

Maoists hacked to death Bishnu Bahadur Chand, a NC worker, in the Sekham VDC of Syangja.

2:    Maoists looted equipment worth Rs. 800,000 from the office of the ARDA, Nepal, an NGO, in the Dhaibung VDC of Rasuwa. They also destroyed an abandoned police post at the Malusahara VDC of Dolakha.

3:    An explosion at a carpet shop in Lalitpur killed a worker and injured three others, including a child.

4:   In Bardiya, Maoists looted goods worth about Rs 600,000 from the house of the Chairman of the Kantipur Publications, Hem Raj Gyawali.

In Rautahat, Maoists killed UML activist Ram Dev Yadav.

5:    In Tikapur, the Maoists looted the house of Hikmat Thapa, General Secretary of Amnesty International, Nepal.

In Taplejung, Maoists shot dead a peon of the Masing Sub-Health Post.

In Bardiya, insurgents bombed and destroyed a vacant police post at Mimmapur.

In Banke, insurgents killed Dil Bahadur Chaudhary, a school teacher.

The insurgents bombed and destroyed the house of MP Hridayaram Thani in the Birendranagar Municipality of Surkhet.

6:    In Taplejung, they killed a student at the Thumkibas VDC.

The insurgents killed two policemen at Dhampus village in Kaski.

On the eve of the nationwide general strike called by the Maoists, they exploded bombs in different parts of the country, including Pokhara, Chitwan and Palpa.

8:    In Surkhet, they set fire to an abandoned police post at Mehelkuna.

9:    The insurgents exploded a bomb at the house of an ex-servicemen at Ganesthan village of Nuwakot, killing the ex-serviceman.  In another Maoist attack on the house of a soldier of the Royal Nepal Army there, the soldier’s father was killed.

10:    The Maoist terrorists hacked an NC worker to death in the Chinnebas of VDC of Syangja.

In Ilam, two persons were shot dead at the Jitpur VDC.

In Bardiya, an ambulance carrying a sick woman to a hospital hit a pressure cooker bomb during the Gulariya-Nepalgunj highway, wounding the driver.

11:    In Syangja, insurgents killed a NC worker, Megh Bahadur Baniya. They exploded two bombs at the police post near the Tumlingtar Airport.

12-18:    Maoist insurgents exploded bombs in differnt parts of the country, including Syangja, Parbat, Kailali, Kaski, and Janakpur.

In Hattilet, Mahottari, a woman was severely injured when a powerful bomb planted by the Maoists exploded.

In Gola, Bardiya, the house of an NC leader was looted.

In Hansapur, Gorkha, they killed a headmaster and an NC worker.

In Dododhar, Kailali, they killed an NDP worker.

12:    An accidental bomb explosion at the house in the Tulsipur Municipality in the night caused the death of six persons, five of them belonging to the same family.

15:    Two unidentified gunmen claiming themselves to be Maoists shot dead Ramesh Manandhar, a special security personnel of the American embassy, at Chunni Pakha, Rabi Bhawan, while he was on inspection of security personnel guarding the US agencies there.  The attackers also looted his communication set and identity card.

19- 25:    The Maoists destroyed a NTC repeater station in Dhading.

In Gulmi, they attacked and injured Chairmen of two VDCs.

A bomb explosion at the Bhaktapur district police Office caused some damage to the kitchen of the office, but no casualties were reported.

In Chitwan, the insurgents bombed and destroyed the house of the Minister of State for Water Resources, Narayan Sharma Poudel.  Later, they also bombed the houses of the Minister of Housing and Physical Planning, Chiranjibi Wagle, and NC-MP Ek Raj Ranabat there, causing some damages.

A powerful bomb explosion at the District Land Tax Office in the Nepalgunj damaged the Account section of the office.

In Nuwakot, the insurgents demolished the building of the Agricultural Services Center, and also severely beat up Tusi Rai, a VDC Chairman.

A policeman was shot dead in Bardiya.

In Gulmi, Maoists attacked and injured two UML workers.

In Surkhet, thousands of people belonging to the Agrigaon VDC vowed to retaliate against the Maoists after they kidnapped their VDC Chairman.

In Chyanam VDC of Okhaldhunga, 12 Maoists were injured in a clash with the local people

In Rautahat, Maoists shot dead a VDC Vice-Chairman.

29:    Maoists shot dead four people of Tarakhola VDC in Baglung district in a series of attacks.  The rebels looted property worth 700,000 rupees of Hari Subedi from VDC-6.

30:    Maoists killed a civilian, Mahadutta Sapkota, of Tara Khola, Baglung and shot dead a retired policeman, Ramnath GC, in Thansingh VDC, Nuwakot.

They also burnt down the unmanned police post in Ranimatta, Dailekh.

January 2002

2:    In Darchula district, a group of Maoists hacked to death a senior Nepali Congress cadre Ganga Bahadur Tarami, who was also an RNA soldier at Naumule of Darchula.

3:    Two soldiers of the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) were killed and 12 others injured when a landmine exploded.  It is suspected that Maoist rebels planted the landmine.

4:    The Maoists killed a local, Mehk Bahdaur K C,  from Bankahi village of Chanai VDC-8 with sharp weapons.

They also attacked two cadres of Nepal Tarun Dal at Badalpur, VDC in Bardiya district and four civilians in other parts of the district.

5:    In Myagdi, a group of Maoists murdered a local cadre of the Nepali Congress party, Sher Bahadur Sherchan, from Ward no 3, Darwang VDC.

In Dang, a 40-year-old man, Chet Bahadur Giri Kuwar was killed when caught in crossfire during exchange of fire between the army and the Maoists.

6:    The Maoists shot at Nim Bahadur Gharti, a former assistant sub-inspector of police, at his home in Basgadhi village of Motipur VDC-8 .

A Maoist group set fire to a government vehicle, belonged to the Agriculture Research Centre (ARC), at Bandipur VDC.

7:  The Maoists killed three civilians - a Koplang VDC Chairman, a local teacher - Bhairab Raj Bista, in Gorkha district and Rishi Ram Devkota, a teacher of Annapurna High School in Bhirkot VDC.

In another incident in the district, the attackers dismembered a leg of Rameshwor Pokharel, the Headmaster of Sharada High School in Khoplang VDC .

8:    Three members of one family were injured when a pipe bomb left behind by Maoists exploded at a village in Sindupalchowk.

10:    The militants partially destroyed the Salle airport in Rukum district by a bucket bomb and also a hospital at Chaurjahari run by the Evangelical Alliance Mission.  Some of the doctors were injured and have been brought to Kathmandu for treatment.

The Maoists also looted cash Rs.300,000 and other valuables from a branch office of the Rashtriya Banijya Bank.  They destroyed an area police station located at the same place.

A bomb went off suddenly when a group of Maoists led by commander "Sushil" was beating locals in Rukam VDC-2.

11:    Maoists killed Hari Rijal, a resident of Sonpur VDC Dang and Yagya Gurung, District Working Committee member of the ruling Nepali Congress, at his home in Surkhet Municipality-2.

Insurgents in Baglung district looted property worth 3 million rupees from a cloth-shop of a local, Kamal Sapkota, at Kusmi Shera bazaar.

12:    Maoists murdered three persons in Hangdeva VDC of Taplejung.  In Syangja, the rebels attacked and critically injured Yam Bahadur Thapa, vice chairman of Pelkachaur VDC and an active member of the Nepali Congress.

Maoists were forcefully lifting grains from several villages of Parbat district, grains specially paddy from Thati, Ranipani, Triveni, Saligram, Pangrang and Beulibas VDCs of the district.

16:    The insurgents shot dead a civilian in Lamatia VDC, Dang district.  The one killed has been identified as Srinarayan Chaudhary, Deukhuri – based NC president.

In Lamjung the Maoist rebels shot dead, Mukti Nath Adhikary, a newly appointed headmaster of Duradada-based Sanskrit Secondary School.

17:    Maoists killed three civilians, including former Mugu District Development Committee (DDC) chairman, Bakhat Bahadur Shahi, in Khotang, headmaster of Chisapani High School Harka Raj Rai, and in Palpa, Man Bahadur Thapa, a Nepali Congress cadre and ex-army man, at Darlam Danda VDC-6.

18:    In Thapapur VDC, Kailai district, the rebels killed the VDC vice-chairman, Parshu Ram Chaudhari.  Insurgents shot dead another civilian in Dakhakwadi VDC, Pyuthan district.  The deceased has been identified as Gir Bahadur Khadka.  In Joshipur VDC, Kailali, the vehicle (Se.1.A. 62) of the District Public Health Office, a government vehicle was completely destroyed in an ambush.

In Barbhanjyang VDC, Damauli, Sobhita Neupane, a teacher at the local school was beaten up and her hair trimmed by the rebels.

19:    The Insurgents shot dead a retired teacher in Ishaneswor Village Development Committee (VDC), Lamjung.  In Krishnapur VDC, Kanchanpur district, another civilian identified as Madan Raj Joshi was gunned down.

A local leader of Nepali Congress, was hacked to death in Jyamrukkot VDC, Myagdi district.

20:    Four RNA soldiers sustained injuries when an army vehicle came under a landmine explosion planted by the Maoist rebels at the Jure area of Sindhupalchowk district.

In Mahendranagar, the district headquarters of Kanchanpur, a group of Maoists hacked Hikmat Singh Bista, 19, to death at his home in Daiji VDC-8.

21:    Maoist rebels killed two civilians in Kanchanpur and Kailali districts. The Maoists also killed 22-year-old Min Bahadur Bam, a petrol pump owner, at Badaipur of Masyuriya VDC.

The Maoists ambushed a contingent of the Royal Nepal Army at Badagaon, about two kilometres away from Kusma, the district headquarters.  But no army personnel were injured in the landmine blast.

The Maoists set ablaze three vehicles and attacked a government official at the premises of Chamelia Hydropower Project at Thapagaon, New Baneshwor.

An Agriculture Development office in Lanti Bhotechaur was damaged completely by a powerful bomb planted by the Maoists.

24:    The Maoists killed five policemen in Gopetar Area Police Station, in Panchthar district.

The rebels killed Harilal Saud after abducting him from his home at Jogbudha VDC-1 of the district.

26:    Maoists bombed the houses of Krishna Mohan Shrestha, chief of Armed Police Force (APF) and Garud Shumsher JB Rana , retired Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Nepal Army in Chainpur Bazar, Sakhuwasabha district, leaving them completely destroyed.

The Maoists robbed a cloth shop of Jag Narayan Gauchan, former chairman of the Pakhapani VDC, at Pakhapani village in Myagdi.

27:    Maoists killed an activist Dagal Limbu of the ruling Nepali Congress Party and injured another in Dhankuta district.

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