Govt's two pronged strategy halts activities of armed groups
KOSH RAJ KOIRALA
KATHMANDU, July 23: In what could be the consequences of the government´s overtures for talks and the bolstered security, activities of various armed outfits operating in restive Tarai and eastern Hill districts have come to a halt in recent months.
Security officials say there hasn´t been any major incidents involving the armed outfits after Tarai Students Liberation Front (TSLF), detonated a powerful bomb targeting a demonstrators at Ramananda Chowk in Janakpur on April 30, killing five people and injuring at least 32 others. That incident came after a bomb explosion at Babarmahal area in the capital on February 27 killed three people and injured several others.
According to Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, the government held talks with 17 armed outfits between July, 2011 to February, 2012. While some of these outfits have already handed over their arms and ammunitions to the government, others have shunned their activities as per the agreement with the government during the talks.
Deputy Spokesperson at Home Ministry Ek Mani Nepal said the restive Tarai and eastern Hill districts are calm in recent months. “Most of the armed groups have already announced a stop to their activities after talks with the government. The halt in the activities of armed group could also be the result of bolstered security arrangement in the restive areas,” he said.
Officials said a few incidents of kidnapping in the region were carried out by individual over their monetary as well as other personal dealings. “Police investigations have shown that armed groups do not have any connection with those incidents,” Nepal further said.
Besides reinstating almost all police outposts displaced during the Maoists insurgency and the subsequent Madhes movement, the government has set up a base office of Armed Police Force (APF) in all constituencies in restive Tarai districts. Likewise, it has also given continuity to Border Security Offices (BSOs) and Border Observation Posts (BOPs) introduced as a part of Special Security Plan launched by then Home Minister Bhim Rawal in 19 bordering Tarai districts.
According to Peace Ministry, the armed groups that held peace talks with the government include Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha, Madhesi Virus Killers, Samyukta Janatantrik Mukti Morcha, Tarai Samyukta Janakranti Party, Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Rajan Mukti), Kirant Janawadi Workers Party, Liberation Tiger of Tarai Elam, Madhes Mukti Tigers and Kirant Janawadi Workers Party.
Jai Krishna Goit-led Akhil Tarai Mukti Morcha, Samyukta Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Pawan Singh), Samyukta Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Aajad Samuha), Nepal Defense Army, Sanghiya Limbuwan Parishad, Tarai Janatrantrik Mukti Morcha (Kautilya), Janatantrik Madhes Tarai Mukti Morcha (Jhawar Sah, Pratap) and Kirant Janawadi Workers´ Party (Suman Bantawa Aadihang) are also among those holding peace talks with the government.
Security officials said some of the notorious armed groups that have yet to sit for talks with the government have also restrained themselves from their activities due to what they call bolstered security situation.
Though Jwala Singh-led Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha, which once terrorized entire Tarai districts has not held any talks with the government yet, it has not been involved in any violent activities for the past several months. “Recent announcement of Swamiji Ram Lochan Thakur-led Tarai Madhes Mukti Tiger (Janatantrik) to register a political party with Election Commission and take part in the next election proves that armed groups have felt the heat of bolstered security,” argued Home Ministry officials. Thakur-led group has not held talks with the government yet.
Officials believe that morale of the armed groups could have gone down not only because of changed political situation but also due to successes of the police to nab members of armed groups involved in violent activities. For instance police have already arrested the masterminds behind the bomb blasts in Babarmahal and Janakpur.
Home Ministry officials also attribute this to the implementation of Small Arms Control Work Plan, according which people arrested with illegal arms cannot be released on bail. Persons arrested on charge of possessing illegal weapons are put behind the bars for at least four years.
According to the police records, police seized 239 different types of small arms including home-made guns, pistols, revolvers and air rifles and 1,677 rounds of bullets in fiscal year 2068/69 BS (from mid-July, 2011 to mid-July, 2012). Police arrested 709 people for possessing arms and ammunition during the same peoriod.