A provocative cover story in the January-February 2012 issue of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) -affiliated magazine Lalrakshak labeled three prominent Nepali citizens, Kul Chandra Gautam, Kanak Mani Dixit and Subodh Raj Pyakurel as “People’s Enemies”. These individuals wrote to the Prime Minister of Nepal, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, and advised heads of diplomatic missions and UN agencies in Kathmandu pointing out how this constituted a dangerous incitement to violence against them, as the allegations were made by a magazine affiliated with the Maoist Party that has a declared official policy, which it has never renounced, of physically eliminating (“bhautik karbahi ra safaya garne”) people who the Party has labeled as “People’s Enemies”.
Circumstantial evidence, including blatantly false public accusations by Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ against the present writer just prior to the publication of the provocative story in Lalrakshak, known as a pro-Prachanda magazine, indicates that this is part of an orchestrated effort to intimidate and silence a broad range of civil society actors, including journalists, lawyers and rights activists across the country. The general message conveyed reflects the well-known despotic perspective: “Those who are not with us are against us, and our enemies are the enemies of the people”.
The media and intellectuals of Nepal have been so desensitized by the frequent provocative, duplicitous and contradictory statements by the UCPN-Maoists that such statements are not always taken seriously, and many people are actually afraid to speak up. The media, for example, has not made a serious attempt to critically analyze the grave charges labeled against the three ‘People’s Enemies’.
The silence of Nepal’s intellectuals reminds one of a famous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen target groups:
First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
While there has been a studied silence among most Nepali civil society leaders, intellectuals and journalists on the Lalrakshak story, a number of Maoist or pro-Maoist journalists have vigorously defended its accusations as factual, and pro-Maoist blogs including www.lalrakshak.com are full of hateful and virulent diatribes denouncing the “people’s enemies” with all kinds of imaginary charges and calling for lynching them.
In the absence of stories countering these allegations with factual information, there is a risk that some people, especially ordinary Maoist cadres, might actually believe Lalrakshak’simaginary tales as true. While I would not wish to confer undue respectability by responding point by point to a magazine whose violent values are portrayed by the gun and grenades featured in its masthead, for the record, I flatly reject all allegations labeled against me by Lalrakshak in its cover story entitled: “These are People’s Enemies”.
No evidence whatsoever has been produced to back up any of the allegations by Lalrakshak in an article supposedly written after “investigation” by its Research Bureau (Khoj Bureau). On the contrary, most allegations are imaginary and fabricated pack of lies, simply intended to be sensational, and amounting to dangerous character assassination.
Here is a factual rebuttal of the allegations made against me, and the truth about them, which illustrates the fictitious and distorted nature of Lalrakshak’s reporting:
1.That Kul Chandra Gautam was known for hooligan attitude (mandaley prabritti) of Nepal Students’ Union during his student days: Gautam was never a member of NSU or any other student union in Nepal during his student days.
2.That Gautam was a lackey of America and was close to the CIA: As an international civil servant Gautam has had an impeccable reputation of being a scrupulously impartial and competent professional, which was the basis for his success in his UN career. In his student days in USA, Gautam was actually known for outspoken criticism of American policy in the Vietnam War and CIA’s efforts to topple the democratically-elected Marxist President Salvador Allende of Chile.
3.That Gautam aspired to become the head of UNMIN: The UN regulations normally do not allow the national of the same country to serve as head of mission as an international staff member in his/her home country. So it was out of question for Gautam to even contemplate this.
4.That Gautam sought to expel UNMIN from Nepal and foment a civil war: Gautam actually advocated for the establishment of UNMIN. His public speech to the World Affairs Council at the Himalaya Hotel in Kathmandu on 24 August 2004 “On the Possible Role of the United Nations in the Peace Process in Nepal” was one of the earliest statements articulating the rationale for UN’s support for peace in Nepal at a time when the royal regime and both of Nepal’s neighbours were opposed to any UN involvement. Gautam offered informal advice to UNMIN and even to the UN Secretary-General to make its role more effective, and was openly critical of UNMIN when some of its reports and actions seemed unbalanced and ill-informed. It would simply be counter-intuitive to imagine Gautam seeking to push the country towards civil war and military rule and the Maoists back to the jungle, by expelling UNMIN from Nepal, as alleged by Lalrakshak.
5.That Gautam was lobbying to become Ambassador to USA where he could also serve the CIA: Gautam never expressed any wish, nor ever lobbied with anyone for any such appointment. In fact, Gautam has consistently declined to serve in any full-time, official, paid government job even when he was approached by various political leaders. Wishing to serve the CIA is a cheap and calculated slander.
6.That Gautam tried to form an anti-Maoist alliance involving the diplomatic community: Members of the diplomatic community make their own judgments based on their assessment of the host country’s situation; what they believe to be in their own national interest and the values they subscribe to; and their wish to promote good relationship with Nepal. They do not operate in a conspiratorial manner as the Maoists and some other Nepalis imagine. It would be foolish for Gautam or any intelligent person to imagine or attempt to manipulate the diplomatic community into any parochial alliances.
7.That Gautam influenced the Supreme Court verdict on non-extension of the CA beyond May 2012: Gautam had no contacts or dealings with any justices of the Supreme Court, or with anyone else who deals with such matters, nor has he made any statements on this subject.
8.That NC leaders intend to install Gautam as Chair of a Constitution Drafting Committee: The speculation by Lalrakshak that Nepali Congress Party leaders Ram Chandra Poudel and Sushil Koirala secretly propose to make Gautam Chair of a new Committee to draft the Constitution, after the expiry of the term of the current CA, is a plain, fictitious story. It has never been discussed by anyone with Gautam, and he has no interest, nor expertise in such task.
9.That “Gautam and the Gang” conspired with some Nepal Army Generals; and tried to create misunderstanding between the NA and Maoist PLA: Gautam never met with any group of Generals, including those who were not promoted during Prachanda’s Government as charged by Lalrakshak. Nor did he seek to provoke or create misunderstanding between the Nepal Army and the Maoists by exaggerating the dangers of integration of Maoist combatants into NA as alleged. Gautam’s views on the subject of “integration and rehabilitation” of ex-Maoist combatants is a matter of public record and published articles. Far from misleading and creating misunderstanding, he came up with many constructive proposals which were initially acknowledged, even by the Maoists, as containing “win-win” propositions in the best interest of Nepal.
10.That Gautam was part of a “conspiratorial” meeting to “split and destroy” the Maoists: Gautam debunked this false allegation that he was part of a “conspiratorial” meeting against the Maoists at Maitighar/Babarmahal Revisited in his op-eds in the Nagarik and Republica dailies on 1 February 2012. He found it shocking and unethical that UCPN-Chairman Prachanda repeated this allegation even after learning first-hand from leaders who apparently were there that Gautam did not attend any such meeting.
11.That Gautam has been advocating against Presidential system of government: An article in the same issue of Lalrakshak by a pro-Maoist journalist Shubhashanker Kandel claims that a former UN official (UN-ka purba talukdar) stood up against the Presidential system of government, citing not his but the views of others, and thus implying “guilt by association”. Nowhere in Gautam’s extensive written or verbal communication is there any evidence of him taking any such position, as he clarified in his op-ed pieces. But taking such position, or in favour of any other democratic alternatives, is a perfectly honourable and democratic right of all citizens.
12.That Gautam was part of the core group of “elite aristocrats” who masterminded the May 2010 civic rally against the Maoist-organized “indefinite strike”: Like tens of thousands of other citizens, Gautam did participate in that huge civic rally, but he was not its architect or designer. Unlike the Maoist portrayal of that rally as a dark episode led by the sukila-mukila privileged elites, it will go down in the history of Nepal as a major turning point of true “people power” that saved Nepal from a dangerous descent towards authoritarianism. It should be recalled that the “indefinite strike” for which the Maoists bussed in tens of thousands of supporters from the countryside and brought Kathmandu to a standstill for 6 days, was meant to be the urban insurrection that would lead to their ‘state capture’. Instead, it became a spectacular failure because of widespread public resentment and the spontaneous civic rally in which some 100,000-plus people from different walks of life turned up in Basantpur Square which showed that not only did the people of Kathmandu resist the attempted insurrection passively, but were prepared to dare the Maoists actively – but peacefully. Joining in that genuinely popular and patriotic civic rally was one of the proudest moments of my life.