Death toll in Maoist-MPRF clash reaches 27
BY SHIVA PURI
RAUTAHAT, March 22 - Death toll in Wednesday's clashes between the cadres of Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) and Maoist-aligned Madhesi Mukti Morcha (MRMM), has reachd 27.
The clashes had erupted at Rice Mills area in Gaur, the district headquarters of Rautahat, Wednesday afternoon.
Most of those killed are said to be Maoists but the report is yet to be confirmed independently.
Maoist lawmaker Prabhu Shah claimed that 12 of the dead have already been identified as Maoist cadres.
The clash ensued after both the sides pushed to hold their mass meets at the open ground of a Rice Mill in Gaur this afternoon.
MPRF had been publicizing their mass meet at the said venue for the last two weeks while Maoists also campaigned to organize their mass meet at the same ground for the last couple of days.
Both sides prepared their stages at a distance of about 100 meters from each other on the ground. The clash took a nasty turn after MPRF cadres wrecked a stage constructed by Maoists for the program while the latter's rally was arriving at the venue. Shortly after the incident, both sides reportedly exchanged fire.
Seven among the dead have been identified as Sanju Khatun, Prabha (both women), Pramod Yadav, Sanjog, Arjun, Ram Biswas and Laffa.
Eleven bodies were found at Hajmuniya VDC at 8 pm while one more corpse was located at Mudbalwa VDC, said Superintendent of Police, Ram Kumar Khanal. Security personnel suspected that the bodies could be of those who were earlier captured by MPRF men.
At least 30 Maoists and five MPRF men were injured during the incident, according to police. The condition of 15 of them is said to be critical. They were rushed to Bharatpur for treatment.
Khanal admitted that police could not prevent the clash despite beefed up security in the area. "We presumed they may target and vandalize government offices," he said, adding, "What happened was not anticipated."
Security forces had requested leaders from both sides to refrain from violence while informing UN bodies about the possibility of violence in advance, according to police.
Following the 13-hour curfew, local administration today imposed a daytime curfew in Gaur Municipality till 3 pm.Link