Nepali Times

CK Lal's venture out of town to get some first hand hint of the ground reality in the "unquiet hills" is appreciated (State of the state, #49). Let's hope he will now venture into Maoland so we keep getting more insight and factual information about how fellow Nepalis are caught up between the policemen and the insurgents. I also agree with the writer's view about the idle intelligentsia of the Kathmandu elite who have proven themselves to be true followers of Bhupi Sherchan's poem. But, Mr Lal, do you really believe implementing the Public Security Regulation is the right direction towards solving the "terror of unfreedom" or you are just being your pro-government self? Many conscious Nepalis believe it is not yet too late to resolve the Maoist insurgency with a carrot and stick policy.
Tilak Lama

When public protests against the Public Security Regulations (PSR) started, we organised a reading of its text at Martin Chautari and then a second meeting where the Act on which it is based was discussed in historical terms. We listened to interpretations of the Regulations and the Act by legal practitioners who know what they are talking about. Although supposedly targeted against the Maoists, the legal experts say the PSR will do very little to curb their activities. Instead they are afraid the PSR will be used against journalists, dalit and janajati activists and mainstream politicians by local government authorities (especially Regulations under 3(2)). We have also participated in public protests held in Kathmandu against PSR.

That is why we were surprised that CK Lal seems to think these protests are being led by "the idle intelligentsia of Kathmandu" (State of the State, #49). While we ourselves have not done enough, those leading the protests against PSR are doing everything within their reach to also criticise the activities of the Maoists. They are anything but "idle" or "empty minds" as Lal calls them. Invoking Orwell, Lal says this is an idea that is so absurd that "only an intellectual could believe" in it. It is good to know what your friend thinks of ideas you support, and the work you do to implement them.

Pratyoush Onta, Martin Chautari

As a longtime reader and fan of CK Lal, it was interesting to read his "An unquiet peace" (#49) not for what it said but more as evidence of his inconsistencies. First, after arguing for years that Nepal's tourism industry had contributed nothing to its rural economy, he now states that the absence of trekkers in Sindhupalchok is "depriving rural Nepal of one of its sole sources of income and employment." Second, Lal bashes Kathmandu's intelligentsia as "idle". However deficient the work of the Kathmandu intelligentsia might be in general, Lal cannot deny that it has been their critical work toward the creation of more democratic public space in Nepal that allows columnists like him to fully flaunt inconsistent arguments week after week. Third, Lal accuses Kathmandu intelligentsia for not protesting while Maoist "kangaroo courts" dispense "Taliban-like quick justice". This is a totally unfair characterisation of the existing responses to Maoist excesses by Kathmandu's intelligentsia.

Fourth, Lal states that the Public Security Regulations (PSR) are being implemented to just tackle the Maoists. Sure, because he is unable to see how PSR is already being misused by local government against journalists, human rights activists and politicians who have nothing to do with Maoist terrorists. And the next time Lal repeats his pro-madhesi and anti-pahadi analysis (one of his staples over the years), the authorities would put him behind the bars for "exciting communal activities" as defined by PSR 3(2a). No doubt Lal writes well, but he needs to ask himself if his enhanced visibility and reputation has all gone to his head.

Umesh L Tuladhar
Tyodha Asan

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)