Divided Diaspora: Prachanda’s past haunts his upcoming Australia visit

By Ram Khatry, Sydney
19 June 2016

Prachanda’s upcoming trip Down Under is being projected as a unifying factor for the Australian Nepali community but the former guerilla leader is already causing a rift in the diaspora. While some are busy locking in his itinerary, many are questioning NRNA’s reported dinner programme in his honour. More fanatically-opposed are demanding his past with questionable human rights records be not forgotten.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal
Prachanda, former prime minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal

The former Nepali prime minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, arrives in Melbourne on June 23 and flies to Sydney on June 24. The highlight of his visit will be his participation in the third general convention of Nepali People’s Progressive Forum. The Forum is said to be affiliated to Mr Dahal’s party, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).

Bhupal SitoulaBhupal Sitoula, the secretary of the NSW chapter of the Non Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), said whereas everyone is entitled to their democratic right to have an opinion about the communist leader’s Australia visit, he personally is opposed to the way few within the National Coordination Council of the NRNA unilaterally decided to throw the dinner programme in his ‘honour’.

Mr Sitoula said the NRNA Australia has over six thousand members across the continent. The national leadership should have asked these members before deciding to host an official dinner for the former prime minister. “All I am saying is we should have emailed our members and let them know that we are hosting the dinner. We should have known what they have to say in this regard,” he rued.

When asked about the rumour that certain members within the NRNA are fiercely opposed to NRNA hosting Mr Dahal because of his insurgency-filled past, the Sydney-based education consultant said he had no comments on hearsay but agreed that some members are indeed opposed to his visit. He further added that majority of NSW SCC members are unhappy with the way the dinner programme has been organised, some even threatening to resign from their positions. The decision was made by the NRN Australia’s president and spokesperson, he said. If this is not the case then they should clarify through a press statement, Mr Sitoula demanded.

Gyanendra RegmiGyanendra Regmi, NRNA Australia’s spokesperson, however, said that the matter is ”still under discussion in NCC”. They are in the process of discussing the matter within NCC Excom, he pointed out.

This, Mr Sitoula says, is a problem because there has already been news published about the dinner programme.

Mr Regmi said that he could not comment anything on informal communication within his organisation unless a final decision has been made. “I will come to you tomorrow afternoon with the outcome of discussion,” Mr Regmi told southasia.com.au.

Muktinath Adhikari
Victim Muktinath Adhikari

As the former rebel leader packs his bags for Australia, some Australian Nepali have raised funds towards a trust established in the name of a head master who was brutally murdered by his cadres during the decade-long insurgency. A group of Nepali expatriates from the district of Lamjung in Nepal have already collected a few thousand dollars, a website said yesterday.

Muktinath Adhikari was the head master of a high school in the remote district. He was snatched from his school as he was taking class and paraded in front of his students. He was then tied to a tree with his own muffler and butchered.

Although the exact number of victims are still disputed, the civil war between the then Royal Nepal Army and the Maoist rebels cost in excess of sixteen thousand lives. Both sides were alleged to have committed blatant human rights violations including forced disappearances.

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