Police send reinforcements to Solukhumbu village after Chand party’s ‘suspicious activities’Reports of an attack on a police post, which authorities later said baseless, prompts concerns
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 Mahakulung of Solukhumbu district, prompting concerns among high-level security officials in Kathmandu.
Nepal Police said additional security forces 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 local 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 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 Chand group’s activities,” said Solukhumbu Chief District Officer Narendra Magar.
A local from the village told the Post he had heard some people talking about the movement of two groups [belonging to Maoist party].
The development in the remote village of Solukhumbu comes a day after one of the Chand party members joined the Nepal Communist Party.
While welcoming Padam Rai, a politburo member of Chand’s Communist Party of Nepal, into the ruling Nepal Communist Party, its leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal said all Chand members 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 leader’s to join the ruling party.
The Chand outfit has in various statements issued in the recent months had said it was against the current regime run by KP 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 it had called the following day demanding an investigation into the death of one of its members in police firing in Tehrathum.
The government decided to ban the activities of the Chand party after two blasts in the Capital in February and March. An explosion in February in Nakkhu area in Lalitpur had claimed one person’s life and injured two others.
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 faulty, as it was provoking it more 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 cooking gas 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 in action.
Top security officials had told the Post that there were serious intelligence lapses which resulted in the explosions.
Thapa had even said that those killed in the cooking as explosions 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, in 2012 left the Maoist party led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal, saying Dahal 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 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 confirmed that there was no attack conducted by the Chand outfit in Solukhumbu, the authorities move of reinforcing security personnel is indicative of the group’s growing presence in Solukhumbu and surrounding districts.
The Chand party is believed to have expanded its base more in Kalikot district.
Police officials in Kathmandu said Chand party’s activities are concentrated in hilly and mountainous areas and security has been beefed up accordingly.
“Some media reports about the preparation of an attack by the Chand-led group are baseless,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Bishwo Raj Pokhrel, the spokesperson for Nepal Police, told the Post when asked about an attack on a police post in Solukhumbu.
The police post that was rumoured to have been the target of the Chand group is under the command of an assistant sub-inspector. Though there are posts for seven officials, only four were present in the office on Sunday.
“The law enforcement agency is working as per the government policy to contain Chand party’s activities,” said Pokhrel. “Our force is on alert. We will control all unlawful activities carried out by the Chand group.”
Binod Ghimire contributed reporting from Kathmandu.