-  Tuesday 11 August 2020

India flays UN for secretly meeting Nepal armed groups in Bihar

 -  IANS

Nov 08 2007 - India has lodged a strong protest with various UN agencies in Nepal over a clandestine meeting between UN officials and Nepali armed groups on Indian soil.

In September, UN officials held a secret meeting with a faction of former Maoists in Muzaffarpur in India's Bihar state without giving prior information to the Indian authorities.

The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha, a group of former Maoists, is on the terrorist list of the US and according to Nepal's top human rights agency -- the National Human Rights Commission -- its two factions are responsible for killing at least 19 people in the Terai plains between November and July.

In a stiffly worded objection, India told various UN agencies active in Nepal, including the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) headed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special representative Ian Martin that it had taken note of the meeting.

Expressing strong objection to the meeting, India has told the UN agencies that it was not within their mandate and to ensure that such action was not repeated. The red faced UN sought to gloss over the meeting and the subsequent objection.

Martin issued a press statement saying UN humanitarian officials had held a meeting with the leadership of an armed group to 'try ensure that emergency food relief and other assistance could be delivered in the wake of the flooding in the Terai earlier this year' without coming under attacks.

'Their discussion was confined to humanitarian, not political issues,' Martin said.

Martin indicated that his office, which was mandated to manage the arms and combatants of the Nepal Army and the Maoists' People's Liberation Army, as well as observe the constituent assembly election, was willing to assume more responsibilities.

It is interested in helping the implementation of the peace process and the agreements signed between the government and various groups, including the Maoists, and has a role in Nepal's security sector, including improving public security on one hand and overseeing a merger between the Maoist and Nepal armies.

However, with the UNMIN's current mandate expiring on Jan 22, it remains to be seen how Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's government will react.

Though Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan last month indicated that the government wanted UNMIN to continue its work, it remains to be seen if its scope will be widened.

According to media reports, others besides India have expressed concern at what they consider the UN exceeding its brief in Nepal.

According to reports in the Nepali media, the Chinese ambassador to Nepal met the prime minister to indicate his concern.

Ironically, the Maoists, who in the past insisted on the UN overseeing the peace process and forced the reluctant government to concede, are now getting increasingly critical of the world body.

The Janadisha daily, the rebels' mouthpiece, voiced the rebel concern in a front-page report Wednesday. Ignoring Martin's denials, it said the UN was indicating it could deploy UN peacekeepers in Nepal.

'There is widespread criticism that the UN is exceeding its mandate and UNMIN and its chief Martin are inciting ethnic groups and armed groups fomenting uprisings in the Terai,' the daily said.

Source : IANS

Other articles by reporter IANS

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