Nepali Times
Human sacrifice

The most important Nepali festival is two weeks away but the country is not in a mood for festivities.

This is the time of year when people go back to their ancestral villages for clan reunions. But this year the few people still left in the villages are leaving. They are fleeing fear, dread and terror, leaving ripening rice on the terraces and their livestock, and abandoning the monsoon-green hills of their homes. They are leaving because there is nothing left to hand over to extortionists. The teachers, shopkeepers, farmers, social workers and nurses who they saw and greeted every day have been decapitated like Dasai goats in front of their eyes. Then there are the untold numbers who have been killed in encounters that we don't even hear about. All predictions that the breakdown of the ceasefire would take the violence and brutality to a new scale have sadly been proven right.

It isn't hard to see that the Maoists' shock and awe campaign is going to backfire badly. It is going to isolate them further from the people and is going to distance them even more from a political resolution. Since neither side can win this war, what is the point of all this blood-letting? To improve their bargaining position in the next round of negotiations? And how precisely is the slaughter of innocents going to do that?

No credo in history which has sought to terrorise the populace into submission has sustained its support for long. This addiction to murder, the temptation to eliminate anyone who doesn't agree with one's dogma, has been justified by revolutionaries throughout history in any number of ways. Besides being cannibalistic, even as a military strategy it is potentially disastrous. Not just for undercutting one's own public support base but also because revolutions always reap the whirlwind.

As we saw during China's Cultural Revolution or the New Peoples' Army purges in the Philippines, when violence becomes an end in itself, the same brutality is ultimately unleashed by hardliners to eliminate rivals, decimating the movement. However noble its original goals, violence corrodes the reason for revolution and brutalises the very people it seeks to liberate.

If last week's three-day bandh was 'successful', it was only successful in proving once more that the Nepali people are in mourning for brothers and sisters killed since the ceasefire broke down. They stayed home because they don't agree with this violence. They kept their shops closed and didn't go to work because they are fed up and want nothing else than for the Maoists and the military to figure out a way to end this unconscionable carnage. And on Sunday they rang temple bells, tooted horns and blew whistles because they wanted to stop this dance of death.

Dasai is here. When dozens of Nepalis are being sacrificed every day, there is no need to appease the gods with animal sacrifices. The gods are horrified enough. Let's celebrate it with flowers for peace and for our nation's future.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)