Nepal Today

Saturday, June 22, 2013

MORE PILGRIMS TO ARRIVE FROM UTTERKHANDA SUNDAY Kathmandu, 23 June: More stranded pilgrims from Utterkhanda are to arrive Sunday in Nepalgunj en route via Nepalgunj where 1,000 survivors of India’s worst monsoon floods in north and northeast states. Survivors recounted Nepali pilgrims died of altitude sickness and many others have died in floods and landslides. The pilgrims fail from various, districts including districts in the Valley. Many pilgrims who went of Chardham are still stranded are still being rescued. Survivors recounted the good and bad treatment they received from rwescuers in India. Officials at Nepalgunj gave the stranded pilgrims without offd and clothing Rs,1,200 to Rs.1,500 for their onward journey home. nnnn JEWELRY SHOPS TO REOPEN IN CAPITAL SUNDAY Kathmandu, 23 June; Jewelry shops in the capital reopen Sunday after a 12-day closure after an agreement beween traders and officials last week. Traders closed businesses following action against three big traders in the city. Government and local administration failed to take action against traders who were dealing in the precious metal adopting unfair practices. “Nepalis customers have been the sufferers even those buying milk,” said one citizen referring to contaminated milk being produced and distributed by more than a dozen daries in the Valley. The jewelry shops are locahed mostly along New Road. nnnn. TOOTHLESS COMMISSION FLAYED BY UPENDRA YADAV Kathmandu, 23 June Chairman of Madheshi People´s Right Forum-Nepal (MPRF-N) Upendra Yadav has alleged that conspiracies were being hatched by various quarters under the pretext of bringing the agitating political parties on board the election process, Suresh Yadav writes in Republica from Janakpur.. Yadav argued that the formation of the Constituency Delineation Commission without any powers to bring changes to the number of constituency was a part of one of such conspiracies. "Though the Constituency Delineation Commission (CDC) has been formed, it may fail to meet our demands," said Yadav. He said that the formation of the commission alone is not enough to address the demands raised by the agitiating parties. He said the commission should be empowered so that it can increase or decrease the number of constituencies as required. Speaking at a function organized by his party in Janakpur on Saturday, Yadav clarified that they are not rooting for a 601-member CA. "We do not have any objection to the size of the new CA. Whether it is 601 seats or 491, it is okay for us but our main demand is that there should be 58% seats allocated under proportional electoral system and 42% under the first-past-the-post system as in the former CA," he said. He criticized the four major parties represented in the High Level Political Committee (HLPC) for reducing the proportional representation seats. Earlier, the HLPC had agreed to allocate 240 seats for proportional representation system and 240 for first-past-the-post system. Addressing the same function, senior leader of MPRF-Nepal Bharat Bimal Yadav said an autonomous Madhes province was not in the agenda of the UCPN (Maoist). "The intention of the UCPN (Maoist) in supporting an autonomous Madhes now is nothing but a conspiracy to divide the Madhesi people," Yadav added. On the occasion, Chairman Yadav welcomed 64 members of the UCPN (Maoist) to the MPRF-N. The leaders defecting to the MPRF-N include Sadhu Yadav, Sudhir Panjiyar, Ashok Raya Yadav, Raj Kumar Mandal and Ramananda Thakur. Nnnn ALL EYES ON CPN MAOIST Kathmandu, 23 June: : Political observers have keenly been watching the developments, as the ongoing CPN-Maoist politburo meeting discusses agendas for the party´s central committee meeting scheduled for June 29. [break[, KIran Pun writes in Republica. The decision of the CPN-Maoist politburo meeting, which began on Friday, has a greater significance in that the decision would determine if the country´s politics is headed for a peaceful resolution or further conflict. According to observers, CPN-Maoist is likely to decide to boycott polls, saying the party would not participate in the poll process under the “existing situation”. The party has long been expressing its disagreement over the political process that led to formation of the Khil Raj Regmi-led government. The party has to either choose election or confrontation. But either one of the choices are fraught with peril for the party. Observers say, the state would act tough on the CPN-Maoist if it chooses the path of struggle. “The state wants to finish off the CPN-Maoists and wants to invite confrontation in the name of election,” Kumar Shah, CC member, told Republica. The state would choose confrontation as it is always easier to subjugate a weaker force, a task it did not succeed before the party split. Moreover, the international community would also help the government in crushing the Maoists. In addition, the state would not hesitate to act tough as the current government is led by civil servants, who have no political obligations. According to observers, the state and the foreign forces will try to incite confrontation between the UCPN (Maoist) and the CPN-Maoist. Immediately after the party split, attempts had been made to bring about confrontation between the two parties over the issue of party property. But the Maoist parties avoided it by keeping on hold the issue of property. So if the CPN-Maoist chooses struggle, the country will enter into a new phase of conflict. “The party has only two options - either to launch struggle or be forced to resist confrontation by the state,” said a CC member. According to Maoist leaders, the state will mobilize the army in the name of election to confront us. Political observers say it would neither be safe for the Maoists to participate in the election. If the party decided to participate in the election, they would not only have to face rival political parties but also international forces. Mainly their agenda of the “national sovereignty” will cost the party dearly in the election. However, CPN- Maoist´s participation in polls would be enough to give the UCPN (Maoist) a taste of defeat. “Finally, the Maoists will face the fate of then Bamdev Gautam-led CPN-ML,” said a Maoist leader. On the other hand, party cadres and voters would not sympathize with CPN-Maoist if it decides to participate in the polls. Voters would question the integrity of the party, saying if it were to choose the path of election why not as a unified party. “Even if Dahal seeks for an alliance with CPN-Maoist or any such poll arrangement, India would not allow this to happen. Any poll alliance to be formed for polls would be so under the auspices of India,” said the CC member. “If the formation of the Khila Raj Regmi-led government is anything to go by, the face of the CA to be elected through the November 19 polls would largely be determined by how the India wants to see it,” said another Maoist leader. CPN-Maoist Chairman Mohan Baidya is writing a political document to be presented at the CC meeting. The ongoing politburo meeting will also offer suggestions to be incorporated in Baidya´s document. Maoist leaders say that the political document would be “remarkable” in terms of the “review” and “synthesis” of the people´s war. So far, the reviews of the people´s war made by UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baidya have been contradictory. But the international communist parties have not recognized either of the reviews. “It would be a decisive political document. The document would determine the fate and future existence of the party,” said Shah. Nnnn 1,000 RESCUES FROM INDIA Kathmandu, 23 June:: More than 1,000 of the 6,000-plus Nepalis who had been stranded for days due to floods and landslides in the popular Hindu pilgrimage sites of Badrinath and Kedarnath of India, arrived in Nepalgunj today [Saturday], The Himalayan Times reports from Nepalgunj.. The Indian government had rescued and sent them home. Sub-inspector Harihar Khadka of Area Police Office, Jamunaha, confirmed the arrival, saying about 1,000 persons in groups of 15 to 20 had returned and the remaining would be arriving in a few days. Most of the returnees are migrant workers from Kalikot, Rukum, Rolpa, Jajarkot and Surkhet. “After rescuing us, the authorities there got us on board a bus and sent us here for free,” said Mangal Damai of Rukum. Banke Chief District Officer Jiban Kumar Oli said his office provided the returnees travel and food expenses and sent them home. Some stranded Nepalis had also been airlifted by Indian authorities. Meanwhile, a team of the Nepali pilgrims, who had been stranded on their way to Badrinath, have arrived in Mahendranagar through the Gaddachowki entry point. Seventeen men and 16 women of Kavre headed home from Mahendranagar today. They had been stranded since June 16 near Pandukeshwor. They said Indian army personnel had rescued them with the help of ropes. They further informed that 34 other pilgrims from Banepa, were still stranded in Pandukeshwor. Four more persons of Salyan, who earned their livelihood as porters for pilgrims heading to Kedarnath, have lost their lives in the floods and landslides. With this, the total toll in Salyan alone has reached 11. Forty others have gone missing. The deceased have been identified as Lokraj Oli, Resham Oli and Kul Bahadur Oli of Kotwara, and Shibaraj Oli of Bafukhola. — Survivor recounts the horrible experience Chandra Bahadur Oli, 55, still can’t believe he has come back alive from Gaurikund. Oli, from Salyan district, was in Gaurikund of Uttarakhand with his brother and friends when the massive deluge occurred on June 17. Oli and others were sheltering in Gaurikund when disaster struck. “A huge number of people had taken refuge in the gorges and ravines there,” he told THT after arriving in Nepalgunj on Saturday. “We never thought we would survive. Though I was saved, I lost my brother Shibaraj and three friends,” he added. Oli left Gaurikund with a heavy heart. “I was also caught up in the raging waters of the river. I remember holding on to a log, and then I passed out. When I regained consciousness I was covered in a blanket.” The recovered bodies were cremated in Gaurikund. “I don’t know what happened to five of my companions. We couldn’t find them. Only Nandalal, Rupalal and I survived” Oli said. About 40 persons from Salyan district alone have been swept away. According to him, scores of people are still awaiting rescue in the jungle area. Nnnn FED UP WITH BAD DIPLOMACY Kathmandu, 23 June:: Diplomacy is an art cultivated for protection and promotion of national interest. That is why experienced hands are chosen to lead diplomatic missions, Lekhjgnath Pandey writes in The Himalayan Times.. Some recent cases involving Nepali envoys, however, have caused embarrassment and marred the national image. Not surprisingly, undiplomatese is most evident among political ambassadorial appointments, owing mainly to lack of diplomatic experience, command over international and local languages and, most of all diplomatic etiquette. Take the case of Maya Sharma, ambassador to Qatar. In an interview with the BBC’s Sajha Sawal, Sharma called Qatar “an open jail” for migrant workers. Qatar Embassy in Kathmandu communicated its displeasure at her remark, which prompted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) to seek clarification from her. Sharma, an appointee from the UCPN-M quota, replied, “It was just a slip of the tongue.” She again landed in trouble trying to get Qatari authorities to deport Dipendra Bhetwal, a Nepali working in Qatar, because of critical blogs attacking her working style. She later gave up her attempt after the Nepali diaspora there piled pressure on her. Foreign Secretary Durga Prasad Bhattarai sought answer why she had acted the way she did without consulting MoFA. She is yet to reply. There is again the case of Kaman Singh Lama, ambassador to South Korea — also a UCPN-M appointee. He created controversy two months back when he told an online portal, “One needs strength to lift one quintal, not good education or qualification to work in South Korea.” MoFA has received complaints from Nepalis in Seoul that Lama, who was appointed from the Janajati quota, prefers to attend functions of organisations led by the Indigenous Nepali Community and ignores others’ programmes. “Because of the behaviour of our envoys, some host countries have even conveyed uneasiness about working with them,” Foreign Secretary Bhattarai said at a press conference yesterday. He did not reveal the names of the host countries, but it was obvious who he was referring to. Bhattarai said envoys appointed from the political quota showed such tendencies, and added that career diplomats were the right people for the job. “All ambassadorial appointments should be from among those who have made diplomacy their career,” he said, referring to the practice in other countries. MoFA is preparing a report regarding criteria for ambassadorial nominations, which suggests basic qualifications, education, age limit, among others. Nnnn FEMALY MIGRANT WORKERS FACE DOUBLE WHAMMY Kathmandu, 23 June:- Sapana Thapa, 25, of Beni accepted it readily when her agent offered her a job in Saudi Arabia with a monthly salary of 500 Riyal, Roshan Sedhaiwrites in The Kathmandu Post.. The agent took care of everything including her passport which was given to her at the last moment in Mumbai, India, from where she flew to Riyadh. Though things didn't turn out as she was promised, Thapa received a "satisfactory" treatment from her employer during her three years in the Gulf Kingdom. But she found herself in a fix when she landed on the Tribhuvan International Airport some four weeks ago. The TIA immigration arrested her on the charge of using a forged passport. ''My agent gave me the passport for Rs 10,000. Was it his fault or mine? How would I know he used my photo on someone else's passport?'' asked the seemingly illiterate Thapa who was released on Thursday after the Nepali Immigration detained her for seven days. She was also fined Rs 5,000. Biru Sewa Limbu of Jhapa was released on the same day. She was also caught for passport forgery while arriving from Saudi Arabia. Limbu's alleged crime was the same as Thapa's but she was detained for 22 days and fined Rs 3,000. They recounted terrible experiences in the prison cells where around 30 women were kept in a single room adjacent to the men's cell. The detainees were crammed into a congested room. Thapa said she had to sleep on the ground with around 25 other women . There was an acute problem of sanitation. ''Why is the government treating us like criminals while returning to our own country? Why doesn't it stop them before departure or punish the agent who plays with the lives of women ?'' Thapa questioned. It is a question that hundreds of women ask themselves while they get arrested for crimes they had never committed. They are doubly betrayed, first by their agent and then by the government. The Department of Immigration (DoI) arrests around 10 persons every day, mostly women , on the charge of passport forgery popularly known as PC. While most of them are released by means of bribe, a few others, according to a DoI source, are referred to the court where they may face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rs 50,000 if proven guilty. DoI records show a total of 485 cases of passport forgery , mainly involving women , were forwarded for the court. On an average every month, 70 cases were reported this year. DoI officials say around 90 percent of the people involved in passport forgery are victims of foreign employment fraud. ''The law allows the release of such victims without punishment on humanitarian ground. But, some DoI staffers have made it a source of their earning,'' said the official. Migrant workers easily comply with the demands when the officials threaten to lock them up for several years. However, DoI spokesperson Kamal Bhattarai said the office refers all the cases to the court. "The workers can file complaints in the Department of Foreign Employment or the DoI if in cases of fraud," said Bhattarai, denying any kind of foul play at the department. The detention facility and its inhumane treatment of female migrant workers came under severe criticism after the case of Sita Rai came to light in November last year. Rai was first robbed by DoI officials and then raped by a police official at the DoI. Following the rape and robbery case of Rai, a high-level committee was formed to investigate the cases of violence against women . The report has asked the government not to further victimise female migrant workers who are already victims of manpower agencies and agents by detaining them. In a report submitted to Interim Election Government Chairman Khil Raj Regmi, the eight-member committee led by PMO Secretary Raju Man Singh Malla had recommended that the government punish the agent. A large number of women are illegally taken to the Gulf in promise of jobs through illegal routes primarily via India and Bangladesh. Many of them are given a forged passport. A report prepared by the Nepali embassy in Saudi Arabia last year showed that around 70,000 Nepali women were illegally working in the Islamic kingdom. Government statistics show only a few hundred women have got permission to work in Saudi Arabia. Various factors including the rise in organised human trafficking, unfriendly laws which include age bar on women below 30 to work in the domestic sector in the Gulf, comparatively cheaper service charges, lack of education and awareness, bureaucratic hassles and weak monitoring of the stakeholders have forced the women to follow illegally routes while seeking overseas jobs. The VAW report had pointed out the government's decision to ban women below 30 to work as domestic helps in the Gulf increased the risk of trafficking and smuggling of women . nnnn


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