Nepal Today

Sunday, March 3, 2013

JANAKPURDHAM CLOSED DOWN Kathmandu, 4 March:: The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF)-Loktantrik has called for a bandh or general strike in Janakpur today saying police manhandled its Leaders, RSS reports from Janakpurdham. A press release issued by the party stated that the Local Development Officer used police force against the party leaders while asking for information about the salary given to employees accused of corruption. Meanwhile, the District Police Office said that police on Sunday had taken some party cadres under control to curb untoward incidents at the premises of the District Development Committee. Chairman of the District Development Committee Employees' Association, Bijay Yadav, said that inclining undisciplined activities by democratic cadres for information was condemnable. Nnnn NEPAL ARMY TO HELP SET UP TRC Kathmandu, 4 March: With international and national scrutiny on Nepal’s conflict-era human rights violations and allegations of impunity mounting, the Nepal Army has expressed its readiness to “cooperate” in dealing with such cases through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( TRC ), Phanindra Dahal writes in The Kathmandu Post.. The Army leadership had previously communicated a similar position to the government and representatives of the international community following the January 3 arrest of Col Kumar Lama in the UK over allegations of torture committed during the 10-year Maoist insurgency. Its latest commitment to the TRC follows Friday’s move by the Chelmsford Crown Court in Essex to release Col Lama on bail. “The outstanding allegations of human rights violations against our rank and file can be counterproductive to our efforts to provide troops for UN missions. We strongly feel that we will be targeted for our actions if we do not comply with international expectations,” said a general at the Army Headquarters. “Towards that end, it is in our best interest to cooperate with the formation of the TRC and resolve longstanding cases as soon as possible.”The commitment that all political parties and security forces, including the Nepal Army , would address conflict-era cases through the TRC was stated in a concept note submitted by Nepal to the British government in mid-January, said a senior government official. However, it was difficult to establish the Army’s official position on the TRC . “My office has no mandate to comment on legal issues,” said Nepal Army Spokesperson Suresh Sharma when asked to comment on the Army’s position on the TRC . Sharma said that only the Army’s legal department was authorised to respond to questions on the TRC . The chief of the NA’s legal department, Nirendra Aryal, however, also declined to comment on the issue, though NA officers have privately maintained that outstanding allegations of human rights have been “the single most pressing issue” for the Army. This is because of the strict vetting system put in place by the international community, including the US and the UK. “Western governments have denied visas to soldiers facing allegations of human rights violations, depriving them of training opportunities,” said a senior Army officer. “The fact of the matter is that in order to protect a few tarnished soldiers, the reputation of the whole institution is on the line.” An ordinance on the formation of the TRC is a major bone of contention in the ongoing cross-party talks on a Chief Justice-led government. The Maoists have been asserting that the ordinance should be immediately finalised, while the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have stressed the need for revising the ordinance under consideration at the President’s Office, by addressing the concerns of the international community. Rights groups and the international community have expressed strong reservations on the government’s ordinance on two transitional justice mechanisms—the Commission on the Disappeared and the TRC , on grounds that the whole transitional justice system could be jeopardised if amnesty is granted to serious war-era abuses. One human rights defender claimed some “junior Maoist leaders” had confided in him that they want the TRC to materalise, rather than “be at risk of arrest during travels abroad.” The human rights source said that interestingly, the rights community had in fact received similar requests from some junior Nepal Army officials too. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha has said that both his party and the government are committed to forming a TRC by addressing concerns expressed by various sides. An Army general, however, expressed doubts over the Maoist commitment to the TRC , claiming that the former rebels would try to “avoid the formation of the commission in order to protect their top leaders and cadres.” “I am not optimistic that the commission will take shape as long as the Maoists are in power,” he said. Nnnn DIFFERENCES WITH BHATTAS DISRUPTS PUJAS AT PASHUPATINATH Kathmandu, 4 March: The ritual of organising special worships at the Pashupatinath Temple is yet to start owing to negligence of Pashupati Area Development Committee (PADT), The Rising Nepal writes. The priests of the Pashupatinath Temple, known as the Bhattas, stopped performing the special pujas saying that PADT had failed to include all necessary puja items as per the list of such special worship. The Bhattas will organise the special puja if a devotee wants to perform it after paying certain amount of money. The devotees should pay charges ranging from Rs. 1,100 to Rs. 1.1 million after which PADT will manage all required puja items. The special worship was stopped from February 14, informed Umesh Kuikel, board council member of the PADT. Kuikel said that a dispute was occurred regarding the procurement of puja items based on the earlier provision of such pujas. The Bhattas accused the PADT of providing poor quality puja items. PADT is a responsible body to resolve this problem and should give continuity to the special puja sbut the internal dispute among the PADT officials has led to the present problem, he said. Prabesh Ram Bhandari, another board member of PADT, said that the special puja would continue if PADT was ready to provide certain amount of special puja charges to the Bhandaris. Bhattas stopped performing special worships demanding the certain amount of the special worship, he said. After the implementation of the regulation, the small amount of money from special puja is deposited into the account of PADT and other remaining amount is utilised for buying puja items while some part of it goes to the Bhattas, he said. However, there is no possibility of resumption of the special puja even if a devotee wants to perform a special puja during Shivaratri because PADT has not shown interest to end this problem, Kuikel said. Earlier, monetary offerings made by devotees at temples and special pujas would go into the pockets of the Bhattas and Bhandaris. But after the implementation of new regulation, the offerings will be deposited into the account of PADT. According the source, the Bhattas and Bhandaris did not show much interest to perform special puja after the implementation of new regulation. Special puja is one of the main sources of regular income of the Pashupatinath. The provision to hold special worship was started by the then main Bhatta (priest) Padmanav Shastri for the rich people from 2032 B.S. A lot of special worships are organized during the holy month of Shravan each year. At that time, each of four Bhattas could collect about Rs. 20 million before the implementation of regulation. They could make about Rs. 1.5 million each from special pujas held during other months, according to sources. nnnn BE PREPARED FOR ELECTIONS SAYS SUSHIL KOIRALA Kathmandu, 4 March: Nepali Congress president Sushil Koirala Sunday urged party workers to be prepared for elections as the country was heading towards It, The Rising Nepal writes from Jhapa.. The NC chief said his party accepted the CJ-led election government proposal with caution to hold election and oust the incumbent government. He, however, accused UCPN-Maoist of trying to impose autocracy by floating the proposal of forming the new government under sitting chief justice. Koirala also blamed that the ruling UCPN-M was hatching various ploys to fulfill its hidden agendas. Speaking at a press meet organized by Nepal Press Union in Birtamod of Jhapa, he, however, argued that it was merely UCPN-Maoist’s day-dream to try to bring in authoritarian rule. “It is in the interest of nation to go for election by forming the CJ-led government instead of damaging democracy which was achieved through long struggle and sacrifice” he said. Koirala argued UCPN-Maoist floated the proposal with the intention of prolonging the government’s tenure by assuming that the NC and other parties would not accept it. He warned that UCPN-Maoist would face the same fate as that of former king Gyanendra Sasha if it deceived other parties. NC general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula said that the fresh election was the only option to end the country’s crisis. The NC general secretary claimed that the ruling parties did not want election and was rather trying to foil it. NC central member Arjun Nursing KC said his party would not allow the UCPN-Maoist capturing state power. During the programme, Koirala honoured journalist Gobindachandra Chheetri, Lokraj Dhakal and Chintamani Dahal for their contribution to change society through journalism. Meanwhile in Butwal, NC Central Working Committee member Bal Krishna Khad warned to take action against those who tried to damage the party’s sister wing, Nepal Student Union. Khad instructed students do not let those, who attacked democratic forces, go free. Distributing certificate to students, who participated in cultural and banking training organized by NSU Lumbini Baarijya Campus Butwal unit, he said the NC would reach power only through the support of NSU and its expansion. nnnn