Country of fear

  • Government should hold Chand-led party to account for its terrorist act

Feb 25, 2019-

Friday night’s explosion near the gate of Ncell’s office at Nakkhu, and a series of arson targeting at least a dozen telephone towers of the mobile company was brazenly claimed by the Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplav’. Although the party claimed to have ‘no intention’ to hurt the innocent, the damage was done. Biplav’s aim was clearly more than blowing up the Ncell office—it was meant to strike fear.

Reports published in this paper mention arson attacks targeting Ncell telephone towers in Achham, Kanchanpur, Nawalparasi, Nuwakot, Gorkha, Kaski and Myagdi. At least four telephone towers were torched in Myagdi alone.

Before Chand took responsibility for the explosion and the arson, police had arrested six persons in connection with the blast in Nakkhu. Security guards at the Ncell head office had also been detained for interrogation. According to the police, as many as 20 persons were held in various districts in connection with Friday’s incidents.

Among the three injured in the explosion, Singha Prasad Gurung died in the hospital while the other two are undergoing treatment. The fatal blast recalled the days of the Maoist insurgency. For the government, it vindicated the security challenges the country faces. In the aftermath, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa declared that the government would bear all expenses of those undergoing treatment. But that will not be enough.

In recent times, sporadic incidents of bombs being planted have been seen across the country. A few months ago, an unidentified group detonated an improvised explosive device at the Ncell tower at Kochang, Madi Rural Municipality. The incident took place on the eve of the anniversary of the Maoist insurgency. A district-level leader of the Chand-led party claimed responsibility for that explosion too. Last April, a bomb went off at the Indian Embassy camp office in Biratnagar, and last September an improvised explosive device went off at the office of Biratnagar Metropolitan City.

In December 2018, the government had formed a high-level political dialogue team to hold talks with disgruntled armed groups including the CK Raut-led Free Madhes Campaign and Chand’s party. The panel held dialogue with 22 groups and convinced them to give up arms. But Chand and Raut’s parties—both thought to be radicals—never came forward for talks despite several calls.

We have come a long way since the Maoist insurgency. Yet, finding a way to address the challenge of radicalism remains. What’s more, as terrorist acts increase, more will be at stake than the legitimacy of the government. A continued climate of fear, established by terror acts such as the Nakkhu explosion, will affect the country’s peace, stability, democracy, economic development and quality of life. Friday’s attack was tragic.

The government cannot ignore it and it’s much touted ‘prosperity’ cannot be realised by a restive society.  Time and again, the Chand-led party has adopted violent tactics to achieve their ends. In Friday’s explosion, a man has died, and the party must be held accountable. Home Minister Thapa must go beyond rhetoric and take action so that more lives are not lost to acts of terrorism.

Published: 25-02-2019 10:35

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