Revolution in South Asia

An Internationalist Info Project

Nepal: Dang massacre of Maoist supporters

Posted by Mike E on May 2, 2008

14 April 2008. A World to Win News Service. On the evening of 7 April, the Nepali press initially reported that Maoist members of the Young Communist league (YCL) ambushed Nepali Congress Party candidate Khum Bahadur Khadka in the city of Dang, surrounding his car and opening fire. Seven YCLers were killed and 25 wounded. According to the Kathmandu Post, Khadka “somehow dodged bullets”, and one media report described a “15 minute long exchange of fire” between the two sides. A “government source” told the Kathmandu Postthat “police fired over 80 rounds as Maoist cadres fired at them indiscriminately.”

Dang is located in the southwest of Nepal, a historic hotspot during the years of the people’s war. It is the city closest to the historic base areas of Rolpa and Rukum. Emotions were running particularly high in the election campaign, as the area was the scene of repeated intense clashes between the Maoist guerrillas and Royal Nepal Army in 2003. The city itself was the last outpost of the old state before reaching the liberated area, and was a concentration point for military special forces, secret police and foreign intelligence.

The news reports of these killings took place in the midst of a storm of denunciations of the Maoists for violence, even though the Maoists were the party that suffered the most deaths by far during the course of the election campaign (seven Maoists and one UML member were killed before the Dang massacre), mainly at the hands of the police. Nepal’s newspapers waged a relentless campaign to associate the Maoists with violence against peaceful democratic candidates, portraying them as little more than thugs and gangsters – creating public opinion to justify police action against them. The Kathmandu Post headlined its front page only four days before the election, “Young Communist League rampage unrelenting” and “Maoists lead in attacks on rival parties”.

The media didn’t talk about the gangsters who were guarding the candidates and protecting the election process throughout the country – the Nepal police forces, who, under the leadership of Congress Party and UML-led governments, had year after year racked up one of the worst human rights records in the world, according to international human rights groups like Amnesty International. More, they had carried out their bloody crimes in defence of a social system that has condemned the great majority of the people of Nepal to a life of endless toil, poverty and hunger.

Nor was anything said about what the YCL represented: youth who had been active fighters or supporters of the war for liberation that rocked Nepal for ten years, who had been pioneers in fighting for women’s liberation – the ranks of the Maoists were about the only place where young men and women could breathe free of the stultifying atmosphere of arranged marriages and patriarchal authority that smothered them. They were fierce fighters against every type of discrimination. For instance, when YCLers meet for the first time, they ask only each other’s first names. In Nepalese, the last name is often indicative of caste, and they don’t want to be influenced by that.

But the press accounts of the killings in Dang just didn’t fit the facts. If a 15-minute firefight occurred, why were the Maoists the only dead and wounded, and not a single policemen or the Nepali Congress activist? Also conveniently ignored by these accounts was the fact that the police never even claimed to have found any weapons on the dead and wounded Maoists.
After the investigation reports came to light, even Jimmy Carter had to label the killings “assassinations” of the Maoist youth.

Investigation results revealed that at about 8 pm on the road near Lamahi, a group of 40 or 50 YCL members intercepted a group of Nepal Congress youth who had come in from the cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. One account says that they were engaging in one of the long-established practices of the Congress Party (the main ruling party, close to India’s Congress Party), paying people to vote for them – only this time they had tried to pay off some Maoist supporters, who promptly turned them in. A few days earlier a candidate from another right-wing party (RJP) had been similarly apprehended by the YCL while handing out bribes. He had the enormous sum in Nepal of 40,000 rupees ($6,500 U. S. dollars) in cash on him. The night of 7 April the YCL apprehended the 33 Nepali Congress youth and tried to turn them over to the police, as they had done on several other occasions. The Congress Party candidate Khadka seems to have come to their rescue, accompanied by a large contingent of plainclothes police, and the police once again decided to release the Congress youth. This led to protests by the Maoist youth, and the police promptly opened fire on them. Not a single policeman or Congress activist was treated for any injuries. One eyewitness, Keshav Pandey, told the Himalayan newspaper that there was no exchange of fire, and that the police had “opened fire indiscriminately.”

The comrades who sacrificed their lives in this cold-blooded massacre are Min Bahadur Pun, Labaru Chaudhary, Jiulal Chaudary, Purnajung Sen, Chet Bahadur Budhathoki, Sital Chaudary and Prakash GM

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