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Archive for March 6th, 2010

Nepal: An In-Depth Look at Army Integration Controversy

Posted by n3wday on March 6, 2010

This article was published on Himal Southasian.

View from the cantonment

March 2010

By: Kiyoko Ogura

The talk drags on in Kathmandu about integration, rehabilitation and the future of the Maoist combatants.

The main cantonment housing the combatants of the Fifth Division of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is built along a ridgeline in Dahabang, in Nepal’s Rolpa District, a longtime Maoist stronghold. The first week of February saw a ceremony in Rolpa as the last of nearly 3000 minors and other ‘disqualified’ combatants were finally discharged from the cantonments, which observers hailed as a major victory.

Yet even as these individuals now look to figure out how to re-integrate back into Nepali society, life for the 19,000-odd other combatants in the cantonments continues at its slow pace. As the ceremony was taking place in the Dahabang cantonment, for instance, other combatants were busy constructing a two-storey building to be used as a residence by their commanders. Indeed, since 21 November 2006, when Nepal’s former Maoist guerrillas began their stay in the seven main and 21 satellite cantonments set up in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), one of the cadres’ main jobs has been to construct their own living spaces. For most, there has been little else to do but wait – a process that now looks set to continue, as discussion over the combatants’ futures remains mired in political infighting in Kathmandu.

Company Commander Panchama Roka Magar (aka ‘Shrijana’) says she takes part in the construction activities when she is not involved in military and political training or sentry duty. Her official responsibility is to distribute foodstuffs to the more than 150 comrades in her cantonment – significant duties, which have made her camp life unusually busy and, to a certain extent, satisfying for the past few years. Yet coming after the end of the decade-long war, Shrijana’s life too has been turned upside-down.

Originally from northern Rolpa, she is now 33 years old, and says that she has been involved in the insurgency since the Maoists began their ‘people’s war’ in February 1996. Her husband, who was also a Maoist fighter, was killed in a military action against a police station in Takasera of Rukum District in 2000, ten months after they got married. Three years later, she formally joined the PLA and participated in several major actions, including the massive raid on an army base in Beni, the capital of central Myagdi District. Now, her only family member is her 10-year-old daughter Nisana, who goes to a public school close to the cantonment during the daytime and stays with her mother at night.

Shrijana, like the thousands of other former Maoist combatants, is wondering what she will do once the cantonments are, eventually, shut down. Due to the conflict, she, like many other cadres, never had a chance to engage in proper study. As such, Shrijana says that the only hope that she has for her future is to work in the national army – a due that she feels she now deserves. It is a future for which she says she is willing, again, to fight. “I want to work for the country,” she said. “We have been staying in cantonments for more than three years, expecting that we will be integrated into the national army. If we are not, another war may start.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Nepal Background, Nepal News | 3 Comments »

PLA Commander Denies Allegation that Many of Its Combatants are Missing

Posted by n3wday on March 6, 2010

This article was published on Nepal News.

PLA chief rubbishes govt suspicion; claims only 50-55 PLA combatants absent from cantonments

Maoist People’s Liberation Army chief Nanda Kishore Pun ‘Pasang’ has refuted government claims that large number of UN verified PLA combatants have left the cantonments, claiming that only a fraction of them have done so.

Speaking to a local radio station on Friday, Pun said that only around 50 to 55 of the verified combatants have lefts the camps. He said some of the combatants left the cantonments because they had met with accidents while some left because of personal reasons and few have died.

Pun also said that they have been regularly briefing the government about the situation of combatants and their numbers through UNMIN. The remark from the senior PLA chief comes at a time when the government has been asking UNMIN to provide the actual number and other latest details about PLA combatants, suspecting that many of the 19,000 plus combatants are absent from the cantonments.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Thursday, UNMIN chief Karin Landgren expressed willingness to provide the “latest information” on the PLA combatants to the government, but reportedly turned down the request to provide the actual number of the combatants living in the cantonments, saying that it was beyond the mandate of her office.

Posted in Nepal News | Leave a Comment »

Nepal Police Attack Maoists to Return Land to Local Owner

Posted by Ka Frank on March 6, 2010

This article appeared in the Himalayan Times on March 4, 2010.

11 hurt as Maoists clash with cops over land grab

BIRENDRANAGAR: At least nine police personnel and two UCPN-Maoist cadres were injured in a scuffle when police tried to evict the Maoists from the property of a local landowner at Sauraha in Bacheli VDC, Chitwan on Thursday.

Maoist district in-charge Amar Birahi was injured in the clash.

The Maoist cadres put up flags and signboard after seizing a local landowner’s land to convert it into a martyrs’ garden. The police resorted to a baton charge to disperse the Maoist cadres. 

The Maoists have disrupted Narayanghat-Hetauda road section following the incident.

Posted in Nepal News | Leave a Comment »