MonitorsPublished on Mar 02, 2009
Terai region continues to reel under strike and the security situation remains to be worrisome. For nearly a week, the Tharu community has been staging massive protests in several Terai districts following the government's decision to label them as Madhesis.
South Asia South Asia Weekly 61

< class="maroontitle">Terai  remains tense

Terai region continues to reel under strike and the security situation remains to be worrisome. For nearly a week, the Tharu community has been staging massive protests in several Terai districts following the government’s decision to label them as Madhesis.  The week-long protest has obstructed movement of traffic on the highways and several industries and educational institutions have shutdown due violence. The month-long strike was jointly called by the Tharuhat Joint Struggle Committee (TJSC), Tharu Welfare Council (TWC) and few other ethnic organisations. The Tharus were opposing the list of ethnic groups recently published by the government which listed them as a part of the Madhesi community to give them reservations in government jobs. The Tharu community, however, reacted angrily as they don’t want to be treated on par with the  Madhesi community. Though, the government called the agitating Tharus for talks, the latter remained adamant asking the government to first address their demands. The present agitation was aimed to create momentum for a greater 'Tharu autonomous province' in key Tharu strongholds.

< class="maroontitle">Operation Rebel Hunt

A massive operation named ‘Operation Rebel Hunt’ was launched to nab rebel  Bangladesh Rifle (BDR) soldiers who took part in the bloody mutiny  on February 25-26. The government ordered army and other security forces to undertake the hunting operation after the deadline for the BDR soldiers to surrender voluntarily got over on March 1. The operation achieved a major success as security forces arrested Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of BDR Syed Touhidul Alam on March 3. Alam is suspected to be one of the leaders of the BDR rebels responsible for the massacre. Besides Alam, the security forces have also arrested many of the mutineers and they were being interrogated to uncover the reasons behind the mutiny. The government has also decided to set up a special tribunal to try those who were involved in the mutiny and killing of army officers.

< class="maroontitle">Sanctuary for dissident writers

During a meeting with a Special Rapporteur on freedom of speech and expression Frank La Rue, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed declared that he want to transform Maldives into a safe heaven for the dissident writers, especially those from Myanmar. Nasheed’s recent declaration was a reflection of his own long stint as a political prisoner under the 30-yrs long dictatorial rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. ‘Anni’ as Nasheed is fondly called, was declared a “Political prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International during his exile from the Maldives for writing articles in Sangu magazine that were considered heretical by the then regime.                      
Sri Lanka
< class="maroontitle">Is India siding with the LTTE?

Barely days after India lend its unanimous support to the militarily-active approach of the Sri Lanka government against the LTTE, its foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee asked Mahinda Rajapaksa regime to take advantage of the ceasefire offer put forward by the LTTE. Sri Lanka was however, caught unawares by the statement issued by India. Its foreign secretary Palitha Kohona further cleared the air by issuing a statement in a popular Indian daily that they have not received any formal or informal communication from India on the subject. India’s support to the LTTE’s truce offer did not well receive in the Sri Lankan political circles. With India only a month away from the parliamentary elections where alliances matter, it is but natural for the moderate political parties to toe the line of the hardliners for electoral gains. But at the same time while formulating policy on Sri Lanka, it is imperative for India to keep aside any domestic political concerns that has the potential to act as a damper to the bilateral Indo-Sri Lanka relationship by pushing the island towards Pakistan and China.          

< class="maroontitle">Terrorists attack Sri Lankan Cricket team

A dozen terrorists ambushed the convoy carrying members of the Sri Lankan cricket team and other officials near Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore in the morning of March 3, 2009. The ensuing 25 minute fire-fight with police escorts left six policemen and one civilian dead and injured six players. Officials were quick to point fingers at al-Qaeda, India and even LTTE. However, after investigations, Interior Security chief Rehman Malik confirmed that both India and the LTTE were not the suspects. More than 250 suspects were arrested,including the brother of Muhammad Adil, the alleged mastermind of the attack. Adil, according to police, had received a phone call from one of the terrorists after the attack asking for future course of action. In Karachi, Maulvi Munir was arrested who later admitted to his role in the attack. Authorities also arrested three Nigerians and as many Uzbeks and Afghans from Karachi and Quetta, indicating a possible role of al-Qaeda.

< class="maroontitle">Contributors:

      • Anjali Sharma                  – Sri Lanka, Maldives
      • Joyeeta Bhattacharjee – Bangladesh
      • Paul Soren                       – Nepal, Bhutan
      • Kaustav Chakrabarti     – Pakistan


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