Government labels Chand party a criminal group, bans its activitiesThe government on Tuesday branded the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal a criminal group and banned its activities, just days after a second blast in the Capital.
Tika R Pradhan & Anil Giri
The government on Tuesday branded the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal a criminal group and banned its activities, just days after a second blast in the Capital. The outfit had owned up to both the explosions, but had shown no signs of renouncing violence.
The Chand party’s violent activities in the run-up to the second investment summit, scheduled for March 29-30, had emerged as the government’s major cause for concern.
At least three ministers confirmed to the Post that Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting decided to ban Chand’s outfit for its involvement in criminal activities.
The Maoist offshoot, which had long been accused of indulging in extortion, had in recent days stepped up its activities and moved beyond its “donation drive”, and the two blasts were part of the group’s intensified activities.
The government had promised to tame the Chand party and curb its activities, but it had stopped short of making it clear whether it was a political outfit or a terror group.
“Just ahead of the investment summit, such violent activities by the Chand group were sending a negative message across to investors,” an aide to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli told the Post. “After being briefed by the four security agencies, the government concluded that the Chand party’s activities were more criminal than political: so it needs to be dealt with accordingly,” he added.
In recent years, Chand’s outfit had been bombing infrastructure projects funded by foreign investors. The group had earlier attacked the project site of Arun III hydroelectricity project and warned that it will not allow the Upper Karnali hydroelectricity project, being developed by an Indian private firm, to move forward.
After a series of arson attacks at telephone towers of Ncell, a private sector telecommunication company, the outfit on March 8 detonated a bomb at the residence of a foreign employment businessman.
On Tuesday afternoon, Oli, during his meeting with representatives from the foreign employment sector, had ruled out talks with “a group that is involved in bombing and criminal activities”.
At the Cabinet meeting, according to a minister, the prime minister said that the government had earlier invited the Chand party for dialogue but it refused.
“The state cannot tolerate the party’s criminal and violent activities,” the minister quoted Oli as saying.
A high-level government team had invited the Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal for talks last year, but it had said the Chand outfit refused.
A politburo member of the Chand party, however, told the Post that they were never called for talks officially.
“The government move has interfered in our political rights; it has taken away our right to have a party and run a party,” Mohan Bahadur Karki of the Communist Party of Nepal said in a phone interview. “We will retaliate. This move means the government has pushed the country towards more conflict.”
The prime minister’s aide said that with Tuesday’s decision, the door for dialogue was closed and that law and order would now prevail. “Security agencies will deal with Chand party’s criminal activities; law will take its course,” he said.
Chand had deserted Dahal’s Maoist party in 2012, along with Ram Bahadur Thapa, who is the incumbent home minister, saying that he wanted to take Nepal’s revolution forward through “unified revolution”.
But he left Thapa in 2014 and formed his own Communist Party of Nepal. Two years later, in what he called a homecoming, Thapa joined Dahal back.
The developments put Thapa and Chand face to face, since Thapa, in the capacity of home minister, will be dealing with the Chand outfit.