Within a month of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visiting Nepal and seeking the security of Indian investments and Indian employees in the troubled republic, a mob Sunday broke into the site office of Indian infrastructure major GMR in a remote district, attacked the people inside and torched the office.
The attack and arson occurred in the GMR site office in remote Dailekh district in western Nepal.
A consortium of GMR Energy Limited, GMR Infrastructure Limited and Italian-Thai Development Project Company won a contract from the government of Nepal to develop the 300 MW Upper Karnali hydropower project running through two remote districts, Dailakeh and Accham.
Despite winning the contract after an international bidding, GMR has been at the receiving end of the Maoists and other minor Left parties that have been opposing giving the project to the Indian company.
Though the mob did not identify themselves as Maoists, the attack is suspected to be the handiwork of the former guerrilla party as it comes after a meeting last week with the Maoist in-charge of energy, Lilamani Pokhrel.
Pokhrel had warned the Indian company that it would not be allowed to proceed unless it met an array of demands like providing free electricity and giving jobs to locals. The Maoist leader also accused GMR of having snagged the contract unfairly by virtue of being an Indian company.
Ironically, the contract was awarded at a time the Maoists themselves were part of the coalition government.
The attackers also beat up the security guard and set on the Indian engineers inside the camp who had to flee and take shelter in an army camp.
Last week, Maoists forcibly stopped the sale of Honda products in Nepal.
The new attack on GMR comes even after Nepal's Deputy Prime Minister Bharat Mohan Adhikari promised Krishna last month that the government would ensure the security of Indian companies in Nepal.
However, with the Maoists being the dominant party in the ruling alliance and Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal heavily dependent on them to continue in power, the former rebels have been allowed to run amok.
Last month, a Maoist trade unionist even gave death threats to a top Maoist leader, exposing the three-way rift in the party.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)