Indefinite curfew in Simikot after party activists clash
NEPALGANJ, Jan 5: An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Simikot, district headquarters of Humla, following clashes between political parties over the filling of vacant posts at the Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project.
WUPAP, which has been running in 22 VDCs in Humla district for nine years, had announced vacancies for 15 various posts, and each political party was adamant on securing the lion´s share of posts for its own activists.
This resulted in unbridgeable differences among the parties and clashes between them ensued, forcing the district administration to impose a curfew at district headquarters.
According to Chief District Officer (CDO) Bijaya Narayan Manandhar, the district administration imposed an indefinite curfew at district headquarters from Saturday morning to stop the situation from further deteriorating.
A meeting of the District Security Committee on Saturday held after the clash between activists of the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress (NC) on Friday night, decided to impose an indefinite curfew in Wards No. 1 to 6.
CDO Manandhar also informed that 11 policemen were injured in stone pelting while controlling the clash among the political party activists. The injured police are undergoing treatment at the district hospital. Police have arrested 10 party activists - seven from NC and three belonging to UML, for their involvement in the clash.
Although Manandhar did not provide the names of those arrested, UML District Chairman Dal Rawal informed that Janak Sahi, Bijyan Bohora and Prakash Bohora from his party have been arrested. Similarly, NC Central Committee Member Jiban Sahi informed that NC activists Palu Rawat, Jiwan Bohora, Amar Budha, Saroj Rawat, Surya Lama, Ujir Bohara and Dharma Rawat have been arrested.
According to Mid-Western Regional Police spokesperson DSP Madhav Shrestha, 33 security personnel have been sent as reinforcement to Humla to bring the situation under control.
WUPAP had announced the vacancies for 15 social mobilizers and one senior mobilizer. It had also published the results of a written exam and interviews. However, the political parties protested, saying the results were biased and accusing the NC of lobbying to have only its candidate appointed.
The other political parties on December 25, 2012 decided to call in officials from the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation within 10 days to probe exam irregularities. They also decided to remove WUPAP from the district if the ministry did not send the officials.
Despite objections by the other parties, appointments were made to the vacant posts as per the results published. Following the appointments, political parties including CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist) staged protests, which in turned resulted in a clash with NC cadres.
In the clash, District Deputy In-charge of UCPN (Maoist) Birjang Shahi fractured his leg while UML District Secretariat Member Kal Bahadur Hamal received head injuries. Both of them are undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital in Kathmandu.
After the clash, the district has been polarized into two groups, with NC on one side and the rest of the parties on the other.
An all-party meeting held on February 3 had entrusted former minister Chhakka Bahadur Lama, NC Central Committee Member Jiban Shahi and Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal Central Member Birkha Bahadur Mahat to resolve the problem. Nevertheless, the problem further escalated, resulting in the vandalising of the houses of Lama, Shahi and UML District Chair Rawal. But the NC blamed the police for the vandalism.
UML District Chair Rawal said that the situation had worsened due to the high-handedness shown by the NC. Meanwhile, Shahi accused other political parties of ganging up to root out the NC through unlawful means.
CDO Manandhar stated that the political parties had dragged the exams, which were conducted in due fashion, into controversy as they wanted to enlist only their own activists for WUPAP. He also informed that efforts to resolve the problem through dialogue were underway.
WUPAP formerly used to operate jointly with the participation of local NGOs and the NGOs themselves were responsible for filling the vacancies. However, following the setting up of the Ministry of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, WUPAP came under the jurisdiction of the district development committee.