On 31 August 2004, the Islamist Army of Ansar-al-Sunna reportedly killed twelve Nepalese, who were taken as hostages in Iraq on 20 August. Following the brutal killings, massive riots occurred in Nepal against the Muslims, predominantly carried out by Pashupati Sena Nepal and the workers of Hindu Volunteers Association. This was widely condemned by the Nepali Media. Samaya (9 September 2004), said that even though the leading Muslim organisations in Nepal had already condemned the killings, the Pashupati Sena (off shoot of India's Shiv Sena) and the workers of Hindu Volunteers Association (another off shoot of India's Rastriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) were chanting aggressive slogans against Nepali Muslims.
Nepal (12 September) in its editorial said, "While 12 Nepalis were being held hostage by terrorists, the best that our ministers could do was pray and appeal through a television network like Al-Jazeera for their release. The government made no effort to seek diplomatic helps from Egypt, Jordan or even Iran. Even if it had used the help of the United Nations or ICRC, the innocent Nepalis would have had a slight chance of survival." It indicted the Deuba Government for its incompetence and inefficiency. Further, it said that the plans to spread anarchy and terror in the city and exploit and mislead the public was facilitated by the absence of a active security operation.
Deuba's visit to Delhi
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba paid a visit to India from 8-12 September. In Deshantar (5 September), Foreign Minister of State Prakash Sharan Mahat said that it was Prime Minster Deuba's goodwill visit to Delhi to encourage friendly relations between the two countries, where two countries had not been made any high level visits for quite some time. Apart from the existing cooperation in different sectors, India and Nepal would talk on bilateral issues and benefits including extradition and the legal assistance treaty, on water resources sector, surface transport etc. Mahat said, "though the Indian government has tried to curtail cross-border smuggling of arms and arrest of Maoist leaders several times, it did not stop the cooperation between the extremist groups. These will include in the talks."
Rajdhani Daily (8 September) in its editorial wrote: "Armed rebellion has become a common problem for Nepal and India now. Some of the problems are so grave that their resolution is not possible without the liberal, open cooperation and goodwill of India...But the way the prime minister is going to New Delhi Ã¢â‚¬â€œ without any homework and in a non-transparent way Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has raised questions whether his visit would be successful." In Nepal Samacharpatra, Dhruba Hari Adhikary said, "Premier Deuba has neither a constitutional standing nor a strong political basis or grip (in the country). If the premier accepts any Indian proposal in New Delhi, the ultimate responsibility for it will fall upon the King."
The Himal Khabarpatrika, a fortnightly magazine, quoted unnamed government sources as saying that the main agenda of the Prime Minister's Delhi visit is to persuade India to involve the United Nations in peace process with the Maoist rebels. It added, "If he can do that, Deuba can also garner additional political and economic support and cooperation from the Western countries. It will also limit the King's option to hire and fire a prime minister as per his wish." However, it cautioned that at a time when there is no functioning parliament, entering into agreements with India on issues like extradition treaty, Upper Koshi, Upper Karnali and laying down of petroleum pipeline are likely to become permanent issues of political and legal controversies. It further opines, "If Deuba succeeds in giving a way out to the Maoist insurgency, it will be a political victory for him. But there is a possibility or risk that the King, palace or the Maoists could ignore or sideline Deuba after he succeeds in persuading India."
In Deshantar (19 September), the former foreign minister, Ram Sharan Mahat, indicted Deuba's visit to Delhi immediately after the 1 September communal riots, when the law and order situation in Nepal was at its worst, and said the visit has revealed the weaknesses of the country and the government. He alleged that the New Delhi visit was a ploy to divert the people's attention and the joint communiquÃƒÂ© announced in India was unproductive and demanded that the Government make public the talks about the security of the two countries.