June 9, 2010
It was bound to happen. Sooner or later, one of the numerous underground organizations in Nepal would try its luck with a car bomb. By Iraqi-Afghani standards, the detonation’s impact was minimal. Four people were injured, no one was killed and peripheral damage was light. But the desired results—capturing headlines – worked like a dream.
A previously unknown outfit calling itself Swatantra Nepal Dal (Free Nepal Party) -- based in Sindhuli district in southeast Nepal -- claimed responsibility an hour after the blast. In the statement emailed to the media, it said that it was launching punitive action against Nepal’s major parties, their respective leaders and “their lackey lawmakers” for their failure to promulgate the long-awaited new constitution by the May 28 deadline. Swatantra Nepal Dal also promised that more attacks could be expected.
The explosion occurred in the Vasundhara area of Kathmandu around 7:15 am. Minutes before, merchants (just opening up their shops) and pedestrians noticed smoke coming out of a white Maruti car parked in front of a private hospital. The police were notified and, just as they converged on the scene, two blasts decimated the vehicle and shattered nearby houses’ windows. Soon after, an army bomb disposal team found and deactivated a third bomb that had failed to detonate.
Several men have already been arrested purportedly involved with the car bomb, but the far more important question is: How can Nepal’s government arrest the mounting frustration of the Nepali people?
In the spring of 2008, the Constituent Assembly was given two years to write a constitution. Instead, the major parties fought like dogs to hang on to personal power – what was best for the nation be damned. The CA’s performance – Maoists, UMLs and Congress alike -- was breathtakingly abysmal.
When the May 28 deadline arrived, the parties cobbled together a last-minute 3-point agreement so that they could grant themselves an additional year to pen the constitution. Leaders of all the major parties hailed the extension as a feat to be proud of – a means of averting chaos in Nepal, which, to a certain extent is true. But what was really new about the 3-Point agreement? What was in that had not already been addressed in the previous 12-point, 40-point and 6-point agreements? And who could guarantee that the same ineffectual lawmakers who had failed to write a constitution in the previous two years could now write a constitution in one year? As long as a true leader fails to emerge, what will make the upcoming year any different than the previous two?
This is what is on the minds of the Nepali people today.
Upping the ante in terrorism by introducing car bombs into Nepal’s teetering democratic experiment is merely the most recent evidence of Nepal’s citizens’ disenfranchisement. As long as the interminable and shameless standoff between leading parties continues, the underground appetite to destroy the status quo can only be expected to intensify.