| Madhesi activists remove the word Nepal from a Nepal Telecom office signboard in Birgunj, 300 km south of Kathmandu, on Monday. (Reuters)
Kathmandu , Jan. 29: Two former ministers during King Gyanendra’s authoritarian rule were arrested in Kathmandu today on suspicion of inciting violence in the Terai region of southern Nepal.
Kamal Thapa, who was the home minister, was arrested from his residence in Kathmandu today, a senior home ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
Former minister for forests and soil conservation Salim Miya Ansari was also arrested today. Their arrests has been linked to the violence in the Terai region which has claimed eleven lives.
The Madhesis, who are the Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai region, say their community has faced discrimination from “hill-dominated” politicians. They say government policies keeps them out of security agencies and highest level of politics.
Thapa’s arrest took place hours after home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula claimed that there were reports of “infiltration by pro-king elements” in the Terai region. Strong action will be taken against such elements, he said.
Earlier today, industry minister Hridesh Tripathi resigned from the cabinet in a major setback for the coalition government led by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.
Tripathi, who belongs to the Terai region and represents the Nepal Sadbhawana Party in the government, sent his resignation letter to Koirala saying that the cabinet had neglected the problems of the Madhesis.
Tripathi’s resignation comes a day after his party threatened to pull out of the government as it had failed to quell the violence in some Terai districts including Janakpur, Birgunj, Kalaiya and Gaur. These districts remained under curfew today.
After Tripathi’s resignation, top leaders of the Seven- Party Alliance and the Maoists met at Koirala’s residence and decided to find a solution to the crisis. They agreed to meet again tomorrow morning to finalise a special Terai package.