Police send reinforcements to Solukhumbu village after Chand party’s ‘suspicious activities’

  • Reports of an attack on a police post, which authorities later said was baseless, have prompted new security concerns
- KUMBHA RAJ RAI, OKHALDHUNGA

Jun 4, 2019-

On Monday afternoon, reports surfaced that the Communist Party of Nepal, led by Netra Bikram Chand, had planned an attack on a police post at Chheskam village in Solukhumbu district, prompting concerns among high-level security officials in Kathmandu.

Nepal Police said additional security teams were sent to the area after reports of “suspicious activities” of the Chand-led party, which was branded a criminal outfit by the government in March.

The Solukhumbu administration denied that there was an attack—or any plan of attack—on the police post by the Chand outfit. The office, however, admitted that activities of the Chand group were on the rise in the district in recent days.

“We have sent additional personnel to the area in the wake of a rise in the Chand group’s activities,” said Solukhumbu Chief District Officer Narendra Magar.

A local from the village told the Post that he had heard some people talking about the movement of two groups [belonging to the Maoist offshoot].

The development in the remote village of Solukhumbu comes a day after one of the Chand party members joined the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

While welcoming Padam Rai, a politburo member of the Chand group, into the ruling communist party, NCP Co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal said all members of the radical outfit would soon renounce their violent activities and join him.

It was not clear whether the “sudden and suspicious” movement of the Chand members in the Solukhumbu village was because of the decision of one of its leaders to join the ruling party.

The Chand outfit has, in various statements issued in recent months, said it was against the current regime run by KP Sharma Oli and Dahal.

Monday’s development also follows multiple explosions in the Capital in which four people, all said to be members of the Chand outfit, were killed and several others injured.

According to police, cooking gas cylinders had exploded accidentally in Sukedhara and Ghattekulo of the Capital when Chand members were trying to rig them as explosives, targeting a general strike the outfit had called the following day demanding an investigation into the death of one of its members in police firing in Bhojpur.

The government decided to ban the activities of the outfit after two blasts in the Capital in February and March. An explosion in February in Nakkhu area of Lalitpur had claimed one life and injured two persons.

Following last month’s explosions in the Capital, security analysts had told the Post that the government approach to dealing with the Chand party was flawed, as it was provoking it to carry out violent activities.

Though the government has said the door for talks is open, there has not been any official dialogue with the Chand party since it was branded a criminal outfit.

A day after the explosions in the Capital, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had told Parliament that the Chand outfit had formed its own army—with four military groups in action.

Top security officials had told the Post that serious intelligence lapses were to blame for the explosions.

Thapa had even said that those killed in the blasts were “not citizens”, which not only invited criticism but also showed a tough stance he has maintained against the Chand party.

Thapa and Chand were close allies during the decade-long “people’s war” that the Maoist party had waged against the state.

But six year after the peace agreement in 2006, Thapa and Chand, along with Mohan Baidya, left the Maoist party led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, saying that their leader had deviated from the Maoist ideology.

But Thapa and Chand parted ways in 2014 and the latter formed the Communist Party of Nepal to launch a “unified revolution”, saying that Nepal’s revolution was incomplete.

Thapa returned to Dahal’s fold in 2016 and became the home minister in the KP Sharma Oli Cabinet.

Even though officials ruled out the attack by the Chand outfit in Solukhumbu, the move to reinforce security personnel is indicative of the group’s growing presence in Solukhumbu and the surrounding districts.

The Chand party is believed to have expanded its base further in Kalikot district.

Police officials in Kathmandu said Chand party’s activities are concentrated in hilly and mountainous areas and security has been tightened accordingly.

“Some media reports about the preparations for an attack by the Chand-led group are baseless,” Deputy Inspector General Bishwo Raj Pokhrel, spokesperson for Nepal Police, told the Post when asked about the Solukhumbu incident.

The police post that was rumoured to have been the target of Chand’s cadres is under the command of an assistant sub-inspector. Though there are posts for seven officials, only four were on duty on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of Nepal issued a statement on Monday evening, saying that the reports of a planned attack on a the police post were baseless.

“Our party does not have any policy to attack security forces,” the statement reads.

DIG Pokhrel said the law enforcement agency was working as per the government policy of curbing the Chand party’s activities. “Our force is on alert,” said Pokhrel.

“We will control all the unlawful activities carried out by the Chand group.”

Binod Ghimire contributed reporting from Kathmandu.

Published: 04-06-2019 10:33

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