Unfortunately even sleepy Kanchanpur district is not immune from the political tension and violence which continues to flare up in Nepal during this critical time of transition. Several days ago, a local journalist, Prakash Thakuri disappeared (presumably kidnapped.) While such incidents are all too common in other regions of the Terai (where radical Madhesi militias battle with Maoists and Paharis) the far-Western region of Nepal has been comparatively peaceful by Nepali standards.
Sure, Kanchanpur is plagued by a wealth of social problems, but the issues affecting this region (predominantly gender discrimination and the domestic abuse and sexual trafficking which accompanies it, perhaps closely followed by/tied with Dalit and Tharu/ex-Kamaiya social, economic and political exclusion) have been less of a flashpoint for violence. The population here is relatively homogenous (again, by Nepali standards) with just two groups, Paharis and Tharus, comprising most of the population. Therefore, it came as some surprise to me that my quiet, rural environs could provide the backdrop for politically motivated intimidation and violence.
There is much ambiguity about just who exactly kidnapped Mr. Thakuri, with most people quietly blaming the YCL or other related factions. However, just a few days after his disappearance, pamphlets taking credit for his kidnapping and subsequent murder started to appear on the streets of nearby Dhangadhi. These pamphlets marked the (possible) emergence of a previously unknown militia called the “Republican Army of Nepal.”
According to the Republican Army of Nepal, (as stated in the pamphlet; there still have been no official or direct communiqués from any individual in the movement) this action is just the start of their new armed struggle for “people’s liberation.” The pamphlet goes on to say that while the Maoists were initially fighting for liberation and working for justice by “punishing the exploiters,” by now following the path of the other political parties they have compromised too much and betrayed their revolutionary ideals. The Republican Army of Nepal seeks to continue their struggle and to punish/kill all of the people associated with the king.
Mr. Thakuri was perhaps something of an obvious target for such a group. During the state of emergency he was closely associated with the monarchy, and even appointed President of the Journalist Federation of Kanchanpur. The Republican Army of Nepal explicitly refers to him as “the king’s journalist.” But who exactly are The Republican Army of Nepal?
Prior to the distribution of the pamphlets, a group “close to the Maoists” (neither the Maoists, nor the YCL; it is difficult to get a clear understanding of how all these relationships and networks overlap) claimed to have taken Mr. Thakuri (but not necessarily to have killed him.) However, now that these pamphlets have been distributed the Maoist-affiliated groups in question have remained silent on the matter. This evidence seems to indicate that the Republican Army of Nepal is a Maoist-splinter group (or even a splinter group of a splinter group for that matter.)
Posted By Jeff Yarborough
Posted Jul 16th, 2007