Police in Nepal are searching sugarcane fields in the southeast for bodies after clashes between Maoists and the Madhesi People's Rights Forum left at least 27 dead. The clash in the town of Gaur, on the Indian border, was the deadliest this year. Gaur and neighboring Kalaiya were both placed under curfew. At least 58 have been killed since January in protests by Madhesi activists seeking more government jobs and parliament seats for their people, who live in the Terai region bordering India. In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she was "deeply shocked" by the killings, adding that they should not be allowed to derail the peace process.
Most of those killed were demobilized Maoist fighters, according to local Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Maoists blamed supporters of Nepal's King Gyanendra for stirring up trouble to halt the peace process, which will likely result in a diminution of his powers. The Madhesis said Maoists started the trouble by scheduling a meeting at the same venue where they had planned a rally. (Reuters, March 21)
There have got to be deeper issues behind this than access to a meeting venue, and we have warned for months that the Maoists were betraying their supposed commitment to the Madhesi cause—the kneejerk dogma-spouting of the annoying Maoist cheerleaders notwithstanding.
See our last post on Nepal.