Hero By Twisting History?

<br><STRONG>Yubaraj Ghimire</STRONG>

Jan. 15, 2012, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.-13 Jan. 13 -2012 (Poush 29,2068)<BR>

"When 73 Central Reserve Police Force Personnel were killed in Dantewada, there was a party in Jawaharlal Nehru University," claimed R S N Singh, a  retired officer of India's external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) , in a recent interview that he gave to Zee news. He was referring to an incident in which Indian Maoists, launching what they call a 'People’s War' to capture the state power, killed at least 73 CRPF Personnel in Dantewada area of Tribal dominated Chhattisgard state some two years ago. JNU is considered a citadel of the pro-left student activists. Our own Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, and some of the major political actors, left and not-so-left, are JNU alumni.

If Maoists celebrated the 'safaya' of their 'class enemies', that is understandable politically. But one only hopes that there was no one from the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) that is ostensibly democratising and humanising itself, in that celebration. Nepali Maoists, ever since they joined the peace process, have been claiming that they have no links with Indian 'revolutionaries'. Afterall, Nepali people have given them enough votes in the 2008 constituent assembly with the message that if Maoists preach and act like democratic parties, respecting life, liberty and dignity of human beings, follow the rule of law and pluralistic system of governance that people elect and reject out of their free will, they will have a place in the country's political spectrum.

But what will be an issue of debate--at least in Nepal for ever, and perhaps in India at some point of time later—is why the Maoists in India  with same modus operandi and style are so hated by the agency that RS N Singh belongs to, and why the same agency is so pally with Nepali Maoists? No doubt, the fundamental difference between Indian and Nepali Maoists is there: that the Nepali Maoists have faced the electorate. But forget about Baidhya, neither Prachanda, nor Bhattarai is keen to implement the peace process, or send off the combatants from the cantonments as agreed under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They still believe that to manipulate people's mandate in their favour, the party must have its own army. And it does not matter if they have the tag of voluntarily retired.

Prior to Bhattarai's visit to Delhi, Hormese Tharakkan, former Chief of RAW, stated in his write up that Bhattarai was the best bet for India, and that he was a 'Gandhian Marxist'. It's a matter of debate how much relevance Gandhi or Gandhism has in today's India, but comparing this Bhattarai with that Gandhi, is an act of profanity, to say the least. As Prime Minister, he followed a practice set by the government of India, and Baburam Bhattarai went to Rajghat to place wreaths on Gandh's samadhi. And he also scribbled something customarily  in honour of Gandhi as a matter of courtesy. But will Bhattarai have the guts to tell his friends--if what RAW's  Singh said in his interview is correct--that rejoicing the killing of 73 or for that matter even a single CRPF personnel was wrong and inhumane? As Prime Minister of Nepal, Bhattarai is determined to reward all those from his side involved in Human Rights violation cases, including murder, and grant them general amnesty. Gandhism believes in pardoning enemies, but does not seek amnesty for wrong doers on the self-side. Bhattarai was taken to Rajghat to pay homage to Gandhi mainly because he has been honoured and recognised by the state there as the 'Father of the Nation'. Three months after he paid homage to India's 'Father of the Nation', his cabinet has indulged in an act dishonouring Nepal's 'Father of the Nation', late King Tribhuvan. There is no dearth of communists in India who call Gandhi a British stooge. They had called the Gandhi-led movement and the resultant independence of India a 'fake' (Yeh Azadi Jhuttha hai).

Bhattarai is indulging in a sinister campaign to distort history, and impose a view on posterity, that he was the biggest hero Nepal ever produced. That Prithvi Narayan Shah was nobody, that Drabya Shah was nobody, and that King Tribhuvan was nobody. And that  all time all powerful Bhattarai showed them --long after they were dead and gone--their place. Tribhuvan may or may not be defined as a martyr.But not too distant history--1951--bears testimony that King Tribhuvan risked his life and throne, and took the asylum first in Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and then in Delhi, and he chose to be a no-body for three months he was there. He returned in February that year back as the King after the movement launched by the Nepali Congress with full understanding with and in co-operation of King Tribhuvan culminated in the end of Rana oligarchy paving the way for establishment of multi-party democracy.

The political map that followed was no doubt not a cherished one, but one great thing that happened post 1951 was Nepal's evolution as a sovereign and independent nation with remarkable presence in the international comity, something that is on a shaky wicket today. Nor is democracy firmly established.

Corruption is at its peak, and accountability in politics and governance is almost nil. Yes, Bhattarai is a beneficiary despite all his track records. India is firmly behind him. US Ambassador DeLisi is a strong lobbyist for him. European Union may have raised feeble voices against his plan to grant a general amnesty to everyone involved in human rights violation during the years of insurgency. But beginning with Nepali Congress and the UML, Bhattarai is now being seen increasingly as a power-hungry politician no better in any way than any average Prime Minister in the past.

Nepal is atop a live volcano as people feel cheated and are angry, and definitely not helpless. They have learned a great lesson that democracy is not something that will take deep roots just because pro-democracy forces from across the world issue A plus grade to some leaders or parties that democracy is safe under their leadership. Democracy is all about whether people feel empowered, whether the rulers are at all accountable to them in practice in any way, and whether their life and dignity are safe. The grade that Nepalese will award to the Bhattarai government would be very different than what outsiders will be awarding to him.

And coming back to JNU incident--celebration of the killing of 73 people--all aspiring as well as practicing democracies in the world have to first agree on the definition of terrorism, and also decide if at all there is something called 'good terrorism', and home and outside. After that any government elected through a democratic process can be effectively made accountable for any deprivation and socio-economic disparity that may invite violent retaliation from the deprived or disadvantaged group.

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