KATHMANDU, Aug 11: The government appears to be on the offensive against the outlawed Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) led by Netra Bikram Chand, as police continue to arrest key members of the outfit instead of gearing up initiatives for talks.
Minister for Information and Communication Gokul Banskota, who is also the government's spokesman, said at a recent press meet that the government would give the Chand group red carpet treatment if it was sincere about talks.
A cabinet meeting on July 13 forwarded a report prepared by the Som Prasad Pandey-led talks team to the Home Ministry for implementation. The Pandey team was tasked with studying the demands of several dissident groups and suggesting ways to bring them into mainstream politics.
The decision to forward the report to the Home Ministry was taken as indicative of the government's inclination toward talks.
But there has been no let-up in the arrest of key members of the Chand outfit.
Police arrested Khem Thapaliya, head of the outfit's cultural wing Akhil Nepal Janasanskritik Mahasangh, in Kathmandu on Saturday. A special team of Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force (APF) nabbed him when he came out of a meeting of the Progressive Writers' Association at Bagbazar.
A few weeks ago, police arrested the outfit's politburo member Maila Lama, who is also its Kathmandu Valley bureau in-charge. Next, they arrested its Kathmandu district in-charge Dhirendryaa Upadhayay Bhrikuti.
On Tuesday, police arrested the outfit's central committee members Uma Gurung, Dambar BK and Mandhwaj Gurung from Gaushala.
Sources said the government, sensing that the outlawed group was into a strategy of consolidating its force, intensified the arrests to hollow it out organizationally.
Meanwhile, some senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) including Janardan Sharma and Lekhraj Bhatta have publicly criticized the government for getting aggressive towards the outfit instead of taking serious initiatives for talks .
The outlawed group demoted some of its pro-talks leaders, accusing them of causing further losses to the organization. They were also accused of leaking vital information to the government side.
The authorities had arrested 1,305 Chand cadres before they outlawed the outfit in mid-March. After that, police arrested 609 other members of the group.
According to records at police headquarters, cases have been filed against 1,313 of those arrested, and 513 have been released. Over 110 others were sent to jail.
Among the arrested, over 150 are of leadership level, including one standing committee member, one department chief, two politburo members, 10 central committee members, seven bureau chiefs, seven chiefs of sister organizations, 17 bureau members and 46 district in-charges and secretaries.
In recent months, the Chand outfit has carried out various violent activities. It set off explosions in 150 places across the country. Seven people have been killed in the explosions carried out by outfit members. Of them six were the members themselves while one was a member of the general public.
Other six outfit members have been killed by police . Likewise, one policeman was killed in an attack by outfit members in Bhojpur.
Police have confiscated 24 pieces of weaponry from the Chand outfit.