When the government took measures to crack down on the violent activities of the outfit led by Netra Bikram Chand in March this year, it was the right response given the circumstances of the time. Chand had let his cadres loose. They were bombing infrastructures, extorting money from private schools and colleges, businesspersons, officials and representatives at local levels, even threatening them of life and planting bombs in main streets of cities. Something had to be done about it. The government rightly took measures to arrest cadres involved in violence. Since, hundreds of Chand’s cadres have been arrested and jailed. To some extent, this strategy has worked. Not as many cases of violence are reported as before March. Apparently, this has exerted the pressure on Chand outfit to come to negotiating table for the strength of the underground outfit is also diminishing.
Yet, the fact remains that the government has not been able to completely contain the underground outfit through force. Thus, the time has come for both the government and Chand to sit for talks. The government has to focus more on talks than force. Apparently, this realization has dawned on some of the leaders of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). According to our report, the government has been quietly reaching out to Chand to find solutions through dialogue. We have maintained that the government should always keep the door of talks open. We reiterate this stand now as well.
That said, Chand outfit should also realize that people in Nepal have never stood in favor of violence. As things stand, Chand has failed to secure public support for the cause they claim to be fighting for. The government has been calling the underground outfit for talks. But each time, the underground outfit has rejected the call questioning the sincerity of the government to find amicable solution. Chand has maintained that his outfit will sit for talks only if the government lifts the ban on its political activities and releases its cadres from jails. But what is the guarantee that it would? Thus sincerity for talks should be demonstrated by the Chand outfit as much as by the government. Both sides need to agree to resolve their issues through the current constitutional framework. Not long ago, the political parties, including the members associated with Chand’s outfit at the moment, set the precedent that every issue—as long as they are political in nature—can be settled through the peaceful means. The decade-long insurgency which resulted in several thousand deaths and many disappearances and displacements is the testament to the fact that no movement can be successful through violent means. The vision of peace enshrined in the constitution cannot be achieved if Chand-led outfit continues with violence and if the government also seeks to eliminate his underground outfit only through force. Chand outfit needs to realize this more than the government but the government too should start doing a serious homework for result-oriented talks with him. There is no better time for this than now.