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India faces twin Maoist threat
Kathmandu, Feb 5 (IANS)
Published on 5 Feb. 2010 11:55 PM IST
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Already grappling with severe Maoist violence in several of its own states, India now faces a twin Maoist threat in neighbouring Nepal with a splinter group declaring war on New Delhi. The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M) is a band of former Maoists who left the original underground party that fought a 10-year war to overthrow the royal family of Nepal. While the parent party now calls itself the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) and is the biggest party in parliament, some of its top leaders who left the party last year are now spearheading the CPN-M. The CPN-M has its stronghold in the Terai plains in southern Nepal, along the border with India. It also has allies in two splinter parties: the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified) and the Revolutionary Communist Party. The CPN-M is headed by former Maoist member of parliament Matrika Prasad Yadav, who was arrested in India during the guerrilla war and handed over to the Nepali authorities though the act put his life in jeopardy. The three groups have now announced a general strike and a protest in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu. They are demanding that India and Nepal scrap the bilateral Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950, which most Nepali parties call detrimental to Nepal’s interests, and other “unequal” treaties with India. On Friday, as Nepal’s parliament began writing the first draft of the new constitution that is to be enforced May 28, the three groups have asked for the treaties to be scrapped before the May deadline. They are also asking for the withdrawal of Indian troops from the controversial Kalapani area located on the borders of India, Nepal and China where India sent forces in 1962 to stave off the Chinese attack. Though the Indo-China war ended, Indian troops are still stationed in Kalapani. The three parties are also asking India to return the land in Susta, another controversial area in western Nepal’s Nawalparasi district, which Nepal’s parties allege to have been encroached upon by India. Though the CPN-M and its allies’ demands reflect those made by the Maoists, the two groups are at loggerheads. The Maoists have also declared a fresh round of anti-government protests from March 13, the 14th anniversary of the “People’s War” launched by them in 1996. Though Maoist protests are targeted against the coalition government, they are also against the Indian government, whom the former guerrillas have been accusing of causing the fall of their short-lived government last year. During the last round of protests in 2009, Maoist chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda publicly called the ruling government of Nepal a puppet in the hands of New Delhi and said he would prefer to negotiate directly with the Manmohan Singh government of India.

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