agree with Kanak Mani Dixit ('Enter the monster', #212) that it was a total failure of the Nepali government to protect the nation from mayhem and to save the lives of innocent hostages.
I was in Jhapa on 1 September and it was very clear that the government, including the police and army, were incapable of providing security to the people. The riots in Birtamod lasted hours and security would not have taken more than 15 minutes to reach the site from the Charali Barracks or the police office in Chandragadi and Birtamod itself. There is no government in eastern Nepal. People are more scared of the security forces than the Maoists. Security forces are neck-deep in corruption at the border. The Royal Nepali Army checks each and every vehicle crossing the Charali Barracks throughout the day, but as soon as it is dark they are back in their barracks. What, the Maoists don't move at night? They are only trying to create the impression that they are fighting a war. Actually they are not even able to protect themselves. Now, even Lord Pashupatinath can't protect this nation.
. We must remember that security forces are fighting the common enemy so you and I can enjoy our freedoms. There is a lot of apprehension among the foot soldiers that they are not appreciated for their sacrifices. So we have to be careful about blaming the security forces for the riots getting out of control last week. What the riots exposed was a total lack of leadership and vision among those in office. And politicians in the opposition were baying for blood even while the capital was burning, which just goes to show all they are after is power. And the Maoists, who used last week as a rehearsal for an attack on the capital, shut down all businesses in the country at the snap of their fingers. Something's got to give.
. I was appalled reading your articles in #212 and #213 on the aftermath of the riots and communal vandalism. I was shocked that the government didn't see it coming and send security personnel to protect the mosques and other buildings. I come from Chhetrapati and I have a lot of Nepali Muslim Friends, I have always admired their tolerance and generosity. I sympathise with them in their hour of loss at the hands of a few thugs. Wonder whose payroll they were under.
. There has been a sort of media war against Hindus since the killing of the 12 Nepalis in Iraq. This may ignite a backlash and should be stopped. The media must not take sides in such a volatile issue. Whenever the question of Islam and violence-specifically terror-is raised, we are repeatedly told by a section of media in Nepal that the the vast majority of Muslims in the world are peaceful people who never engage in terror. This is entirely accurate, and entirely irrelevant. I agree that all Muslims are not terrorists, but it pains me to note that almost all terrorists are Muslims. The point here is that the threat to civilisation emanating from within Islam is not obviated by the fact that the great majority of Muslims are not violent. That is why it is meaningless at best, and dishonest at worst, to deny the threat to civilization coming from various Muslim terrorist groups. Then there are the questions of the illegal madrassas and what is being preached there.
. Your last issue (#213) was excellent. Thank you for giving us the immediate update on Deuba's Delhi visit as well as a flavour of the international press on Nepal's plight. Your sensitive coverage of the pogrom against Kathmandu's Muslim minority had the perspective of the small people that has not appeared in any other media. However, your incisive editorial 'Post Mortem' ended on an incongruous note. You ask only of the Maoists and the palace if Nepalis have not suffered enough. You did not question the political parties, implying to the reader that only these two were responsible for the pogroms and the overall ills in the country. What is it that you think the king can or should do? As the protector of this constitution, he cannot ask for its abolition: that is what those who clamour for a constituent assembly are asking for despite previously claiming that it was 'the best constitution in the world' and despite not making any attempts to reform it when they enjoyed a majority in parliament. The king cannot resurrect a dead parliament, killed by the united party in power in parliament, especially after the supreme court has upheld that decision. He has asked the parties to submit themselves to a popular vote for a fresh mandate, and is he wrong in doing that?
The people do not vote for the king or the army, even less for armed bandits and extortionists in the jungle. They can only vote for parties that accept the right of dissent, multiparty democracy, free press and human rights. These values are all guaranteed under this constitution. If there are provisions missing, and they are, such as better minority representation in all wings of the government or local self government units (which incidentally where there in the discarded Panchayat constitution!) they can easily be incorporated through amendments. But how will we vote for parties that prevent the democratic infusion of fresh leadership faces and insist on a feudocratic hold on their party machinery by those indicted of corruption? Should they not reform, give up the politics of chakka jams and street violence and go to the people? The national press, by not challenging the parties on these issues and being complicit in defining 'regression' not as the return of the kleptocrats to power but the use of a constitutional provision such as Article 127, has encouraged the parties not to reform.
. After the killing of 12 Nepali hostages in Iraq, Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal released a press statement condemning the deaths of fellow Nepalis. He also blamed the present government for the deaths by not creating jobs at home. I would like to bring to the attention of Comrade Prachanda that his guerrillas are killing more than 12 fellow Nepalis within Nepal everyday. For how long does he intend to keep killing so many unarmed civilians? Apart from the killings, the insurgency has resulted in greater unemployement. Nepalis are venturing far and wide for only one reason: if they go back, the Maoists will force them to join them or kill them. The closure of more than 46 industries has wiped out more than 100,000 jobs. It may be an opportune time for Mr Awesome to look at himself in the mirror. We totally support your ideas to develop the nation by decentralising democracy and liberating Nepal from the hands of corrupt leaders, but we totally disagree with your methods. It is foolish to destroy the country you are liberating. Stop killing unarmed civilians now, stop destroying infrastructure now, and stop closing down industries and forcing young Nepalis to flee abroad. If you have a shred of patriotism and responsibility left stop your atrocities and help rebuild Nepal. One last thing: given your conduct so far, what guarantee is there that once you assume power you will not be as corrupt as the people you replace?
. Why is it that it takes a foreigner to call a spade a spade in Nepal? I read Gwynne Dyer's column in The Guardian that you reprinted ('Nepal stares into the abyss', #213) and he accurately describes the Maoists as apologists for the Khmer Rouge. How can anyone think of ever compromising with such a fanatical group? Nepal is in a Pol Pot scenario and no one here is willing to admit it. There was outrage about the beheading of a Nepali man in Iraq. Well, the Maoists have been torturing, beheading, gouging out eyes, lynching fellow-Nepalis now for eight years. Why isn't anyone saying anything? Dyer concludes his piece with these haunting words; 'Nepal is heading straight for hell, and nobody in the country seems remotely capable of stopping it.' May Pashupatinath protect us all.