Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Talks with PM only

A joint front of 15 armed groups in the Tarai put a condition for talks with the government that the PM should head the talks team, the front's coordinator Manejar Mahato told the press in Bihar last week. He said the government devalued the Terai armed groups by forming a talks team comprising of low level ministers.

"This government did not realise that the real power of Tarai is with us," he said. He demanded that the talks team should be headed by the PM and its members should include MJF president Upendra Yadav, TMLP president Mahanta Thakur, Sadbhavana president Rajendra Mahato. The front has already formed a five member talks team led by Bibas Bidroha. The front comprises of four small outfits of People's Liberation Front, Madhesi Tigers, Terai-Madhes Liberation Tigers, Madhes-Tarai Liberation Front, Tarai Cobra, Tarai Liberation Force and Madhesi Virus Killers.

People's Tarai Liberation Front, Rajan Liberation group shot at a UML cadre Utimalal Mahato the very next day the government formally wrote to Tarai armed groups. Police arrested Chandra Kumar Yadav in connection to the murder and he died the following day in custody. There is no decline in incidents of violence in the Tarai and the government mechanism does not seem to be acting responsibly.

The internal conflict within the armed outfits seems to be another hurdle in peace talks. When the most influential leader Jwala Singh was showing his willingness to sit for talks, his party spokesperson Surya Deb Singh said that there is no meaning to sit for talks with the government they do not trust. Each group has its own demands, which is another obstacle. Responding to the government call for talks, Rajan Liberation group has demanded the government talks team should be dissolved while Jwala Singh group has put a condition of ceasefire before talks. The Goit group has completely ignored the government call and demanded UN mediation.

Nine armed groups in a meeting held in Katihar, India had declared a ceasefire unilaterally and showed interest for talks with the government before Dasain. But the Front could not take a decision as Goit walked out of the meeting when he found that he would not get the leadership.

Although some of the groups are positive about talks, the chance is low that they will come to the table because they have a lucrative extortion racket going. They are far from the reach of state security. However, they have been demanding that security should be limited to district headquarter. Supply Minister Rajendra Mahato said in Janakpur this wasn't possible.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)