From The Nepali Press
Prakash, 25 July
FROM ISSUE #258 (29 JULY 2005 - 04 AUG 2005) | TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Until four years ago, the security forces did not have a camp in Arughat, a market town sandwiched between Gorkha and Dhading. At the time, the Maoists used to walk about openly and constantly intimidated the local people by extorting them and asking for free meals and lodging. But when the security forces arrived, the Maoists took refuge in secure places and started harassing them. Last month, Maoist militants killed two army soldiers in cold blood while they were shopping for groceries. Four other soldiers who were nearby returned to their barracks instead of chasing the assassins. After a while, they came back to the market area with more soldiers and started to mistreat and harass local residents. The soldiers kicked and beat up everyone in their way, even the elderly and children. The army accused the civilians of doing nothing to prevent the assassination of their soldiers by the militants and of not capturing the killers. So the question is, who is responsible for security and protection: unarmed civilians or the armed forces? Not only did they physically manhandle the locals, the young soldiers closed the market for a month and cut off electricity for three days. Now the local residents feel relieved due to the arrival of a team from the National Human Rights Commission but they also fear that in its absence, the army might resume its harassment. The commission has to pay careful attention to these incidents.