Extortion in a federal state
Kantipur, 26 February
The Nepal Communist Party Maoist led by Netra Bikram Chand (Biplav) has been sending letters to all rural municipalities of Province 5, demanding 2% of their development budgets. The letters claim to spend the money to install ‘scientific socialism’ as an alternative to parliamentary democracy.
Many local level elected representatives are said to have already paid up, some from their personal coffers, others using their development budget. In a public hearing in Rupandehi recently, a municipality chief admitted to having paid Rs50,000 to the Maoists.
The Biplav faction has been asking for three different types of donations: 2% of the development budget, up to Rs500,000 lump sum from the salaries of elected representatives, and a tender worth Rs10 million.
Many local administrations in Gulmi have been extorted. After rising pressure, municipality chiefs have got local administration officers to pay off the Maoists.
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The party has also demanded 2% of the development budgets from six municipalities and two rural municipalities of Bardia. Party sources reveal that teachers and contractors have also been approached for donations.
Although the problem is rampant in Dang, officers there do not want to talk about it. Some are giving what is asked, while others are trying to bargain it down.
Mim Bahadur Gharti Magar of Rolpa municipality said the Maoists demanded a month’s salary from him, and half the infrastructure budgets from other local governments.
Businesses in Banke are also being extorted. Said one trader: “We got a letter demanding money, it is sad that we are facing extortion and threats once again.”
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