Yet another kidnapping in Nepal's Terai region
Apr 7, 2007 - 3:07:54 PM

Kathmandu, April 7 - Less than a week after the formation of a new government in Nepal, an armed group in the Terai plains abducted a government official Saturday, warning of more unrest if the state went ahead with the June election without beginning talks.

A faction of former Maoists, led by veteran rebel leader Jaykrishna Goit, abducted district education officer Nivaraj Joshi from Rajbiraj town in Saptari district.

The kidnappers contacted the official's family, asking for a ransom of Nepali Rs.5 million and warned that more violence would follow if the eight-party government went ahead with the election on June 20, Nepal's official media said.

Joshi is the second official to be kidnapped in less than a week from the same town.

On Tuesday night, an armed group kidnapped Murali Prasad Singh, the superintendent of Narayani sub-regional hospital. Doctors in the town went on strike Thursday to protest against the abduction, stopping all work except emergency services.

Police have not been able to trace Singh or his abductors so far.

Goit, a former Maoist, left the rebels to float his own Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha group, alleging that the Maoists exploited Madhesis, people from the plains, during the 10-year war but did nothing to address their plight.

The Morcha was later split by Goit's lieutenant Jwala Singh, who too is leading an armed movement in the plains.

Both the factions have been following the example of the Maoists before the rebels signed a peace pact with the government, carrying on abduction, extortion, looting and even killings with impunity in the plains.

Though Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala announced an amnesty for the two factions and asked them to begin talks, both have refused and the government has also taken any initiative.

The latest kidnapping comes less than a week after the Maoists joined the government and the home ministry asked all individuals and groups possessing illegal weapons and explosives to surrender them to the government in a week.

The Terai plains have remained turbulent since this year with several ethnic groups carrying on protests that often turned violent.

Over 60 people have been killed in the plains since then but the government is yet to bring the guilty to justice, including the perpetrators of a carnage in Gaur town last month in which 29 people died.

Though Koirala and the other ruling parties have vowed to hold the election at any cost, Koirala's daughter Sujata, an influential MP from his Nepali Congress party, says the election is impossible in view of the worsening security situation.

'You can't set foot in the Terai plains,' she had told IANS earlier.

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