Civil servants quit en masse in Nepal
Civil servants in Kathmandu are quitting en masse in protest against the growing insecurity in the Terai plains.
As Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's government began a battle for survival in parliament on Monday, civil servants began quitting en masse in protest against the growing insecurity in the Terai plains.
A total of 99 secretaries resigned from village development committees (VDCs) - municipal bodies - in Sarlahi district in southern Nepal, saying they felt unsafe working in villages.
Harikant Lal Karna, president of the VDC Secretaries' Rights Protection Committee, told the media that over a dozen armed groups active in the plains had demanded Nepali Rs 5 million from them.
Armed groups have killed at least seven municipal officials in the Terai plains this year.
It triggered an exodus of government employees from the plains. Though the government promised to beef up security and the Terai situation was discussed by the cabinet last week, officials say they are still as vulnerable as ever.
Less than a fortnight ago, over 400 civil servants had quit en masse in Saptari district in the Terai. However, they were persuaded to return to work after the home ministry promised to give them greater security.
A third district in the plains has also been affected with civil servants as well as teachers stopping work from Monday.
All government offices and schools in Siraha district would remain closed for 11 days from Monday in the first phase of the protests to force the government to provide them better security.
Civil servants in Siraha have warned they would resign en masse if the government ignored their plight.
Recently, three government officials were killed in Siraha. In addition, several were abducted and released only after their families paid the ransom demanded.
The angry officials are demanding that the government reimburse the money they paid.
Earlier this year, after the murder of an engineer, the World Bank warned the Nepal government that it would stop its projects if the government failed to protect its employees.
The embattled prime minister faces a severe challenge from the new alliance of Maoists and communists.
The Maoist demand for the immediate abolition of Nepal's 238-year-old monarchy and a new election system received a boost in the recent special session of parliament when the rebels won over the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the second largest party in Koirala's ruling coalition.
Now, as the third session of the house starts, the Maoists and UML are clamouring for the two demands to be implemented, saying it is obligatory for the government since the special session passed them with a simple majority.