Ultimatum to Biplob
Outlawing the Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplob’-led Communist Party of Nepal is justified. The party has, in recent times, acted more like a criminal-cum-terrorist outfit than a political party: spreading terror by detonating bombs in various public places, killing an innocent person, shaking down businesspersons, and reportedly planning the assassination of political leaders after raising a private militia. So long as it doesn’t abandon its terror tactics, there is no point in talking to it. But even then, Prime Minister KP Oli’s ultimatum to the outfit to either surrender within a week or be effectively wiped out was uncalled for.
Expecting Biplob to agree to a humiliating surrender is highly unrealistic. Instead of issuing such base threats, PM Oli, as head of government, should have been more conciliatory. He should have said the government is ready for talks if Biplob puts down arms, now or at anytime in the future. Ultimately, there is no alternative to talking things through, and it is unbecoming of someone in the prime minister’s chair to spit venom.
In retaliation for the ban, Biplob has announced a series of protest programs, including strikes and bandhs. Although the government claims it can wipe out the party swiftly, the public is rightly skeptical. It will be nigh impossible to stop the kind of hit-and-run attacks from Biplob that had become a signature of the decade-long Maoist insurgency of which he was an integral part. The fear his party has now generated is palpable too. Schools and colleges are already planning to shut down on the days of the protests, and businesses fear a new cycle of extortion.
Again, that the government is acting tough against a group that has adopted terror as its modus operandi is understandable. But if the CPN is ready to disarm, there should always be room for talks. With the government seemingly committed to a showdown, there will be no incentive for Biplob to give up violence.
There is no room for violence in a civilized society. But peaceful means of dispute resolution should be open for everyone, including Biplob. It is unfortunate that the prime minister has become hostage to partisan politics, trying to portray Biplob’s CPN as ‘pseudo-communists’, apparently in contrast to the ‘real’ ones in the government. Oli should instead be acting in the country’s interest.
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