Violence in Terai as former Maoists begin fresh 'war'
Fresh violence erupted in Nepal's volatile Terai plains as a band of former Maoist rebels said they were ending their truce and beginning a new "war".
The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (Jwala), a splinter group led by former Maoist Jwala Singh, said it was calling off its "unilateral ceasefire" and resuming violence from Saturday as the government had not heeded its conditions for coming to dialogue.
The Morcha was formed by Maoist leaders from the plains who broke away from the parent organisation under Jay Krishna Goit, a rebel leader senior to Maoist supremo Prachanda. It began an armed insurrection in the plains along the pattern of the Maoists' decade-old "people's war".
Morcha leaders say they were exploited by the Maoists who have done nothing to address the plight of plains people, who remain excluded from the government, Army and judiciary.
Jwala Singh, a former lieutenant of Goit, broke away from the Morcha and formed his own faction that includes former rebels armed with Maoist weapons.
Soon after the declaration of their truce, the Jwala Singh group tried to ambush a Maoist group in Rautahat district in southern Nepal on Saturday.
Motorcycle-borne followers of Singh attacked a band of Maoists in Bellary forest, wounding two cadres and triggering a fight, media reports said on Sunday.
The incident has created fresh panic in the plains that are already reeling under an indefinite closure called by another ethnic group that began on Tuesday.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum has called the protest to demand the formation of an autonomous Madhes state in the plains for Terai people.
While the Forum supporters are focusing on keeping shops and markets, educational institutions, highways and trading points closed, Singh's men on the other hand have been indulging in abductions, murder of political activists and extortion.
Earlier, Singh had said he was ready to begin negotiations with the government. The government had in turn pledged to lift all warrants for the arrest of his men wanted for crimes.
In Kathmandu, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said both the breaking of the truce and the continuation of the closure was "unfortunate" and "regrettable".
"Both groups should start talks and place their demands at the talks table," he said. "The government is ready to listen to them."
After a decade-old communist insurgency that killed over 13,000 people, Nepal heaved a sigh of relief when the Maoists signed a peace pact with the government last year.
However, the relief was short-lived with the Maoist example inspiring over a dozen organisations to start separate protest movements.
Some of the new movements are armed and even the non-armed ones have been snowballing into arson and violence.
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