Birgunj violence imperils talksFresh tension across central Tarai that resulted from the local administration’s unsuccessful effort to remove protesters from the no man’s land at the entry point with India
Fresh tension across central Tarai that resulted from the local administration’s unsuccessful effort to remove protesters from the no man’s land at the entry point with India has widened the mistrust between the government and the agitating Madhesi parties.
The unexpected turn of events also cast a shadow over the recent progress made in seeking a political solution to the crisis through dialogue.
Following rounds of futile discussion, the government on Sunday had expressed its commitment to address the grievances of the Tarai-based parties over the demarcation of federal provinces on the basis of a political understanding.
Issuing a statement in the aftermath of the tension, the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an alliance of four parties
on the frontline of the ongoing protest, accused the government of making internal preparations “to finish” the protest. It also accused the government of gearing up to mobilise the Army to suppress the protesters.
“The government has never taken talks seriously. It seems determined to suppress the protest while using dialogue as a tactic. It was preparing to suppress the protest while staging a drama of talks,” read a statement.
Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party Vice-chairman Hridayesh Tripathi said they have received information of Army mobilisation.
“There is no meaning of talks as the government doesn’t look serious about resolving the crisis through negotiation. This was to muzzle voices through force,” said Tripathi.
Though several Madhesi leaders announced to walk away from talks, the SLMM statement clarified that they are still in favour of meaningful dialogue.
“We would like to urge the government to be responsible and play its role in creating a positive atmosphere for talks without any delay,” reads the statement. Madhesi parties were also willing to take the protest to a logical end as soon as possible.
The regional parties are of the view that a lingering protest might slip off their hand to “other elements”, allowing the government to use force on the pretext of controlling extremism and criminal activities. There is also danger that the people will stop supporting them due to the difficulties created by three months of protest. The Morcha has also been unable to gather enough crowds in eastern and western districts for which they claim to be protesting.
A separate meeting of Morcha top leaders in Janakpur on Monday decided to intensify the agitation while keeping the door for negotiation open.