Far-west leaders fear communal conflict

KATHMANDU: Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba, his party colleague Ramesh Lekhak and CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal, who have been supporting the campaign for undivided far-west, today drew the attention of the chiefs of three major political parties – UCPN-M, CPN-UML, NC — as well as Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai towards the problems being faced by the residents of the far-west due to crippling strike. After meeting the prominent leaders of the major parties at Singha Durbar, Rawal said the situation in far-west was deteriorating because of ongoing general strike, and if not addressed soon, it could lead to communal conflict between the two communities (Tharus and Pahadis) that have lived in complete harmony for ages. “Major political parties and the government should earnestly talk to the agitators and address their demands, but there has not been any sincere effort towards that,” Rawal said. “The government used to talks with agitators just after two-three days of strike, but it has not talked to the agitators of the far-west even after 17 days of strike.” Undivided far-west campaigners held talks with the government representatives yesterday. They were told that their message would be conveyed to the prominent leaders of the political parties, as their demands were related to most contentious issues of federalism. “We did not get any response from the political leaders or the prime minister,” Rawal said in response to a question. PM’s Political Adviser Devendra Paudel said the government was sincere to hold talks with the agitators but the problem could be resolved only through consensus. “We respect the sentiment of the region but if we stick to old structure of 75 districts and 14 zones, we cannot achieve federalism,” he said. “Do the residents of far-west mean that the old structure should not be changed?” He said the government may hold second round of talks with the agitators tomorrow. Asked what the response of the prominent leaders was, Lekhak said, “The UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal did not accept the demand for undivided far-west.”HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

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