Deal with kin of Gaur victims puts coalition at risk27 Maoists died in a clash with cadres of Upendra Yadav’s Madheshi Janadhikar Forum in March 2007 in Rautahat.
A crack has opened up in the ruling coalition following the signing on Tuesday of a five-point agreement between the home ministry and the Gaur Murder Victims Struggle Committee.
At least 27 Maoist cadres were killed in Gaur of Rautahat district on March 21, 2007 in an ugly confrontation with the cadres of the then Madheshi Janadhikar Forum led by Upendra Yadav. Yadav now chairs the Janata Samajbadi Party, which is a part of the ruling coalition as well as the Socialist Front initiated by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre).
The ruling JSP has expressed discontent over the agreement between the home ministry and the agitating families of those who died in the massacre some 17 years ago. JSP leaders told the Post that Yadav met with Prime Minister Dahal, Nepali Congress chair Sher Bahadur Deuba and other leaders and expressed his serious reservations over the agreement.
JSP chair Yadav told the Post that after the incident in 2007, the government had formed a judicial committee led by the then justice of the Supreme Court, Khilraj Regmi, which had subsequently submitted a report.
“I dare the government to publish Regmi’s report,” said Yadav. “I wonder why the government is now digging up a 17-year-old case.”
He pointed out how the Geneva-based Office of the Human Rights Commission had also carried out an investigation after the incident. “I dare the government to publish those reports. Both the reports indicate that external hands were behind the incident. We were attacked by mobs carrying different kinds of domestic weapons,” said Yadav.
After the incident, police filed cases against us, but the government later dropped them, he added.
Back in January this year, the National Human Rights Commission had recommended that the government probe Upendra Yadav and 129 others in connection with the massacre and take action if he is found guilty.
The JSP said that it has serious reservations over the first point of the latest agreement reached between the government and the agitating kin of the victims.
The point says that the complaints registered at the time over the death and injuries of those killed and injured in the incident in Rautahat will be investigated and the guilty prosecuted based on facts and evidence.
“The agreement reached between the government and the struggle committee has made us serious,” said Pradip Yadav, a JSP lawmaker.
The family members of those killed in the massacre had been asking for justice and compensation from the government.
“The agreement would not have been possible without the active interest of the prime minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha. We thus smell a conspiracy against our party,” another JSP leader said. “Is the Maoist leadership ready to carry out a similar probe and compensate the families of those killed during the decade-long insurgency?”
Yadav, according to one JSP central committee member, told Deuba that Dahal and Home Minister Shrestha are trying to create a rift in the ruling coalition and if such efforts continue, it will force the party to walk out of the coalition.
On Wednesday morning, Deuba visited Dahal and told him to be sensitive to the demands of the coalition partner and not to unnecessarily rile them up.
Also on Wednesday, senior JSP leaders met at party headquarters to discuss the “new but challenging situation”.
“We are closely studying the developments and will soon take a formal decision on the issue,” said Yadav. “There is pressure on us to exit the coalition if the government does not correct its mistake.”
On Tuesday, the government agreed to publish the names of those killed in the incident in the Nepal Gazette, declare them martyrs, and bear the treatment costs of all those injured in the incident.
Yadav, the JSP chairman, has been denying his role in the incident. Senior Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula was the home minister at the time of the clash.
A section of the Madhes-based parties wants to drag JSP chair Yadav in the case. Prabhu Shah, chairman of the newly formed Aam Janata Party, has publicly demanded that the massacre be probed.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, Yubaraj Bhattarai, district in-charge of the CPN (Maoist Center), denied any role of the Maoist party in the Gaur incident and called for stern action against those involved in the killings and injuries.