Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Stop the carnage and talk

The violence and counter-violence underway in this country for the past seven years took a devastating and unimaginable turn Sunday morning at Mangalsen and Sanfebagar, the headquarters of Accham district. This country, which has still not been able to free itself from the compulsions of history, may have nothing but tears, ashes and perpetual repentance left for itself if we don't take corrective actions soon.

It doesn't need to be said that the Maoist violence reached the height of barbarism in Accham, but even the adjectives simply cannot describe the turn the situation in the nation has taken. The actions of the Maoists, who have been declared terrorists, have given us further insight into their violent and destructive mindset. At the same time, it also reveals the government's inability and defunct machinery. This heart-wrenching incident has also shown how the lack of political vision and stubborn partisan interests of parties have taken this beautiful but ill-fated country closer to total ruin.

The Accham massacre is a repeat of legendary self-destruction of the Yadavs. This Himalayan nation that has been desperately searching for a bridge of faith, is becoming surrounded by ever-rising walls of corpses of her children, and is being crushed under their weight. The Maoists ideology probably rates the carnage in Accham as "exemplary bravery and victory", but they will never be able to get to their goal of communism by stepping on steps made of bodies of the innocent security forces they have killed.

The Maoists have painted not just Accham with the blood of more than 125 innocent people (this figure, however, does not include the Maoists, even though they are also Nepalis), but also our history. And no amount of regret can make up for it. No philosophy, ideology or administrative logic can justify or absolve the Maoists' unforgivable crime. However, it is not possible to get to the roots of our self-destruction by simply cursing the Maoists. The blood of the security forces who attained martyrdom in Accham will also continue to curse our government and the political parties. Our security forces at the front fought valiantly until they shed their last drop of blood, but our political parties have always failed to overcome their selfishness, indifference and cowardice.

Those who have handed over the problem to the security forces instead of taking democracy to the grassroots along with broad social and economic programs to try and resolve the crisis must now ask themselves one question. How much is each one of them responsible for the blood that has been shed in this country in the past seven years? The battle was raging in Accham until Sunday morning. But the prime minister, ministers and leaders of different political parties could be seen going around attending formal meetings in Kathmandu, as if there was no place called Accham on the map of Nepal, or that we had no relation to those who fell. It might not be out of place to say that such ingratitude and irresponsibility only reflected our shamelessness.

What we cannot forget now that is that more dangerous than Accham's extensive material and human losses is the message from the incident. We did not get the message from Dunai, Ghorahi or Salleri. The Maoists are anarchists, destructive, and motivated by violence, there is no doubt about that. But we must not forget that it is some of our nation's failures and weaknesses that have fuelled the destruction and violence. The country should have been progressing peacefully, instead it is being overcome by fear and repugnance. And Nepal's smouldering society is being pushed into the pits of cruelty, barbarism, suffering-and unthinkable consequences.

The security forces' effective and concerted efforts may be one way to save the nation from disintegration and total destruction, but it cannot bring about the ultimate solution. For that we would need to take the road of talks, talks and talks. After all, democracy is a system that relies on co-operation, constructive debate and peaceful means to open the doors of social change. Our parliamentary and political representatives must rise above their habit of only listening and understanding what they want to, and, if it comes to that, even agree to a referendum on the constituent assembly to save the nation and find a peaceful end to Maoist violence.
The Maoists, if they truly believe in the people, should be ready to lay down their arms and give the people the power to decide what political system they want; they cannot be allowed to devise a political system based on the number of bodies that have fallen. We must stop the unnecessary killing and safeguard the nation for our future generations. No system is an end in itself, it is only a means to an end. And no system can be sustained unless the country and people are safe. Forgetting the country and the common people and only harping on about the purity of the system is like selling one's eyes and buying glasses to replace them.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)