Baidya Maoists disrupt voter registration in districts
KATHMANDU, March 29: As the Election Commission (EC), which took full shape early this week, steps up efforts to prepare for Constituent Assembly (CA) polls in June, some fringe political parties led by the CPN-Maoist have turned more aggressive in obstructing the voter registration drive in several districts.
In some districts, cadres of the fringe parties, especially the CPN-Maoist, which has vowed to thwart the CA polls at all cost, have seized equipment and documents used in updating the voter lists. In other districts, CPN-Maoist cadres have warned of untoward incidents if the district election offices do not halt the voter registration work. The CPN-Maoist, led by Mohan Baidya, has claimed that they have interfered with the voter registration drive in two-thirds of the districts.
“We have disrupted the voter registration process in around 50 districts so far,” said Shree Ram Dhakal, central office secretary of the CPN-Maoist, adding, “We intend to disrupt the process throughout the country.” On Thursday, CPN-Maoist cadres vandalized the district election office in Baglung.
According to Tol Raj Upadhyaya, the district election officer, Maoist cadres, all of them masked and wielding iron rods, vandalized computers, photocopy machines, printers and telephone sets. “They just barged into our office and vandalized whatever they found,” said Upadhyaya, adding, “They were in no mood to discuss anything with any of us.” According to DSP Surendra Bahadur Gurung, chief of Baglung District Police Office, CPN-Maoist district in-charge Tek Bahadur KC and district secretary Gyamnath Gaire were briefly detained following the incident and later freed.
Ananta KC, Dil Bahadur Pariyar and Binod Thapa were among the CPN-Maoist cadres who vandalized the election office, said DSP Gurung. Earlier this week also, CPN-Maoist cadres had disrupted the voter registration in Baglung. In Chhatrebanjh VDC of Kavre district also, CPN-Maoist cadres disrupted the voter registration campaign on Thursday. They tried to snatch away a laptop used in updating the voter list.
When the election officials prevented the CPN-Maoist cadres from walking away with the laptop, a minor scuffle ensued. “What we did at Chhatrebanjh is part of our nationwide campaign to foil the CA polls,” said Dipak Devkota, CPN-Maoist district secretary. “We will disrupt the voter registration in other VDCs of Kavre also.” In Jambukandh VDC of Dailekh district, CPN-Maoist cadres organized protest programs to disrupt the voter registration.
Later on Thursday, an all-party meeting chaired by Chief District Officer Homnath Thapaliya decided to deploy 10 armed security personnel at each centre set up for listing the voters. “We have requested local leaders of the CPN-Maoist to organize their protests peacefully,” said Thapaliya. “If they become aggressive, we will deploy more security personnel.” Meanwhile, groups of CPN-Maoist cadres visited district election offices in Dadeldhura, Baitadi and Bajhang districts to warn the election officials to halt the voter registration right away. “They have warned us that they can do anything if we do not halt the registration,” said Bhakta Raj Joshi, district election officer of Dadeldhura.
The CPN-Maoist, a breakaway faction of the UCPN (Maoist), has vowed to disrupt the CA polls, dubbing the Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi-led interim election government as ´unconstitutional´ and ´engineered by foreign powers´. “The CA polls are impossible unless the CJ Regmi-led government is dissolved,” said CPN-Maoist office secretary Dhakal.
In the face of continuing disturbances by the CPN-Maoist, the EC is finding it challenging to update the voter list across the country, something that needs to be accomplished well before the CA polls. However, the government says it will leave no stone unturned to get the CA polls held either in June or by mid-November. Only on Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) decided to beef up security for the smooth functioning of the district election offices, following a series of attacks by CPN-Maoist cadres.
Election Commission officials harassed in several districts across country
MYAGDI/BAITADI: The Election Commission collected and updated voters’ registration in some districts, while CPN-M continued to disrupt the EC’s work in many districts today. In Baglung, four masked CPN-M activists vandalised the office of Election Officer Tolraj Upadhyaya today afternoon. “They entered my room and without saying a word began cutting the telephone wire and smashing the computer, printer and window panes,” said Upadhyaya. Interestingly, some security persons were outside the office when the vandalism occurred, sources said.
Vowing to take action against the vandals, Chief District Officer Mahadev Panth said,”We have already mobilsed a police team to search for the miscreants and beefed up security at the election office to prevent any further attack.” Likewise, CPN-M activists today obstructed voters’ registration in Gajari and Deulek VDCs of Baitadi. They seized documents from EC officials in Patan, Baitadi, and prevented them from taking photographs to update voters’ registration.
Maoist cadres also seized election related documents at Sirseni VDC of Gulmi to obstruct the EC’s drive. In Jhapa, however, voter registration was carried out amidst tight security in urban areas, while Federal Democratic National Forum affiliated to Federal Limbuwan State Council and CPN-Maoist cadres obstructed the registration process in several rural areas. Damak started collecting and updating voters’ name list from wards 1 to 8 from today after security officials blocked FLSC and CPN-M activists from entering the municipality office, according to EC staffer Narayan Dhakal.
FLSC Secretariat member Premdwip Thamsuhang, however, vowed to continue obstructing the EC’s work. Elsewhere, in Jhora Tole of Triyuga municipality, the EC’s campaign resumed after a brief scuffle between police and CPN-Maoist cadres when the latter tried to seize a laptop from EC officials.
The district EC office said it had prepared voters’ identity cards of about 1,500 persons despite the obstruction. Similarly, CPN-M cadres obstructed voters’ registration in Beni Manipur, Nawalparasi and Sunsari today. According to CPN-M district in-charge Ashok Lamsal, they were forced to obstruct the EC’s drive after it didn’t give a hoot to their request to not carry on with the task of updating. The EC’s drive was also obstructed for some time at Chhatrebanjh Dapcha VDC of Kavre today.
Maoist leaders in Makwanpur released‚ bandh withdrawn
HETAUDA: District Police Office, Makawanpur, released two district level leaders of the CPN-Maoist, today. Rabindra Deula and Krishnaraj Koirala arrested on the charge of disrupting the collection of voters’ list on Thursday were released, said Gupta Bahadur Shrestha, Deputy Superintendent of Police at the District Police Office.
Police arrested them from Hetauda Municipality Ward No. 8 in connection with their involvement in disrupting the collection of voters’ list and vandalizing equipments. The CPN-Maoist District Committee, Makawanpur, called back the district banda programme following the release of its two leaders, said CPN-Maoist District Secretary Indra Bahadur Pariyar.
The party had announced the bandh demanding that the arrested leaders be released. Meanwhile in Chitwan, police arrested two persons in connection with their involvement in disrupting collection of voters’ list with photographs on Thursday. Roshan Gurung and Saroj Tamang were arrested on the charge of disrupting collection of voters’ list and snatching away the documents by stopping the teams assigned for collection of voters’ list, said Dipak Kumar Thapa, Chief of the Chitwan District Police Office.
We won’t allow election: Dev Gurung
POKHARA, March 28: CPN-Maoist Secretary Dev Gurung said on Thursday that his party wouldn´t allow conduct of polls until the four major political parties scrap their deal on forming an election government under the leadership of chief justice. “It is for certain that election is not possible in the existing situation.
One can conduct polls only at the cost of bloodbath,” said Gurung. “No one should dare to conduct polls in the current situation.” Gurung said his party is ready to hold talks with the four major political forces. Stating that they were ready for talks, he also accused the major parties of shutting the doors for talks.
He also said that his party would obstruct election process. Gurung accused leaders from the four political forces of working under instructions from foreign powers instead of taking consent of small political parties. “When we talk to the president and leaders from four political forces, they admit that it was their compulsion to form CJ-led government. In fact, it is not their compulsion but they took the decision because they couldn´t resist pressure from foreign elements,” he claimed.