Revolution in South Asia

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Archive for September 9th, 2008

Nepal: The lost battles of Khara and Pili

Posted by Mike E on September 9, 2008



This article is by a retired British general. An article like this may well contain disinformation and it may be intended to play on existing contradictions within the current political seen. For those reasons and more, reposting it here is (obviously we hope) not an endorsement of its analysis or its factual claims.

At the same time this widely circulated piece discusses matters that are of interest to our readers — including crucial current political issues about the relations and relative strength of the revolutionary People’s Liberation Army and the governments National Army. There are other accounts and analyses of these events — and we urge you to post links to those links here.

This article originally appeared in Himal South Asian magazine.

By: Sam Cowan

Despite the importance of the clashes at Khara and Pili in turning the trends of Nepal’s decade-long war, both sides have worked to bury the memory of these battles.     

The 10 years of the Maoist conflict in Nepal, 1996-2006, cost just over 13,000 lives. About 8000 were killed by the security forces. Many of those who died were civilians, and some thousands were extra-judicially executed or ‘disappeared’ – again, the great majority by the security forces. An unquantifiable number of combatants were killed in battles and genuine encounters between the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) and the armed wing of the Maoists, the ‘People’s Liberation Army’ (PLA). About 350 of these individuals were killed in two battles that took place in 2005: at Khara, on 7 April, and at Pili four months later, on 7 August. The battles are notable for their significant political consequences, as well as for the fact that the two commanders-in-chief were personally involved in the instigation of deeply flawed plans that led to humiliating disaster and significant loss of life. Both sides, therefore, have a continuing strong vested interest in drawing a veil over what happened during these battles, and why.

This analysis is based mainly on a study of readily available Maoist-produced videos, which cover both battles; and, in the case of Pili, by personal research that confirms and amplifies what is seen and heard on the videos. Tularam Pandey, a journalist with the Kathmandu Post, visited the Pili camp six days after the battle, and his reported accounts also tie in very closely with those from other sources.

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