INDEPENDENT NEWS

Nepal: The Maoists Weapons and Combatants

Published: Fri 2 Mar 2007 09:45 AM
The Maoists Weapons and Combatants
By Rajat KC
The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) submitted its report to the Government of Nepal and the Nepal Communist Party (Maoists) after completion of registration of the Maoists combatant and weapons. As per the peace agreement now the Maoists are eligible to join the interim government any time in near future. As per the democratic norms no any political parties can keep armed combatant as their own private army. At present the Government of Nepal is maintaining two armies - the National Army and the army of a particular political party who have joined mainstream. My effort in this article will be focused on analyzing whether this registration will ensure proper management of the rebel force and their arms on the path to resolving the crisis and bringing lasting peace in Nepal?
The Maoists rebels are supposed to be confined inside the cantonment by this time in accordance with the peace agreement as Nepal Army are also restricted to their normal duties and limiting themselves within their barracks. But in the reality bulk of the rebel cadres are staying outside the cantonments. Large numbers of the Maoist guerillas are unaccounted who are working on the cover of body guards of their dozens of leaders with fully equipped arms and ammunition. Everyone knows that most of the newly appointed Maoist Parliamentarians are from the guerilla background. There is a report that these parliamentarians attend meetings in Parliament by carrying weapons and they are escorted by their armed body guards. The present Home Minister of Nepal is so liberal to Maoists that the later are free to do any exercise even if it is against the norms of rules of law or will of people of Nepal. The minister claims that he is a hero of Nepal for brokering the peace deal with Maoists on latter's terms and conditions and virtually surrendering to Maoists.
Most of the leaders of Youth Communist League (YCL) are guerillas, who are working as pressure groups of the Maoist throughout the country. They are working in the same area where they used to terrorize the people in the past. These YCL are those who are either not registered in cantonment sites or those who are underage who are not eligible to register.
The Maoists are still using their combatants in intimidation, extortion, torture, killing and kidnapping as they used to do same in the past. At the same time the Maoists combatants are confronting with Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) and Madhesi People Rights Forum (MPRF) cadres in the Terai region in the day to day life.
In Kathmandu every hotel, disco, casino and pub or key business houses are seized by the Maoists by forcefully employing their guerillas as security guard, bouncer and other workers. Such allegations are confirmed because the Maoists have formed their unions in almost all such places. The Maoists has sent several their combatants abroad as manpower worker to work in Middle East and South East Asia to generate funds for their organization.
In the background of above mentioned activities of the Maoists one can easily understand that where actually the Maoist combatants are living. It is interesting that the UNMIN has registered 30,852 combatants from different cantonments from 7 different locations. If that many numbers of rebels are inside the cantonment who are all these guerillas working outside doing various illegal activities? Are the combatants registered by the UNMIN are real one who fought the so called people's war or they are recruited after the declaration of cease-fire? Most of them are claiming that they are 18 years old at the time of registration; is that mean they were below 18 when they were initially recruited during the period they fought war? In that context, is the UNMIN officially validating or legitimizing child soldiers as combatants? One of the Maoists leader claimed that (CP Gajurel in JNU New Delhi) they just had 10,000 combatants till the time they fought war but they have now over 35000 which are newly recruited. There are reports that the Maoists are still continuing recruitment in some parts of Nepal as Militia and giving assurances that they will ultimately be inducted in National Army.
Almost every day since April this year there are reports and news that the Maoist are kidnapping children's from the school to recruit in their People's Liberation Army (PLA). There are allegations from international agencies that more then 500 children are still working as combatant within the PLA in Nepal. It is known to all that more than two third registered cadres are not original combatants; they are newly recruited after the peace agreement was signed.
The UNMIN do not have any first hand information of the actual number of Maoists combatants and weapons. They have no choice but to believe whatever the Maoist presented them. For instance the Maoist Supremo notoriously said recently that "river swept our arms away where as others were burnt down". The UNMIN itself is not sure that all weapons are accounted and all combatants are cantoned? It gives impression that the UNMIN is just legitimizing newly recruited cadres as combatants and crummy weapons as main fighting weapons.
The Nepal Army claims that the Maoists have not even shown all the weapons which they have looted from the security forces. On top of that they have imported several weapons such as AK-14 rifle from outside of Nepal which are also not accounted for.
The UNMIN has mentioned that the Maoist recruited on post April periods will not be included in the cantonment but in reality they could not stop them by doing so. It is very sad to say that even those cadres who are cantoned are also coming out of cantonments so often whenever they need to be used elsewhere as and when required for their party's programs.
It gives clear picture that most of the Maoist guerillas are working outside the cantonments and their sophisticated weapons are not registered. How can one be sure that these Maoists will not use their weapons in the future? The prime concern of the peace loving people in Nepal is that the weapons handed over to UNMIN will not be used against own people in the future. But, the modality of arms management is so weak that the people can not get assurances of Maoists not using their arms in future.
Almost 15000 people have lost their life in bloody war. On top of that there are uncountable loss of physical infrastructure and economic sectors due to this meaningless war. As we know that the ultimate aim of the Maoist is to declare Nepal a Maoist (communist) state. They could have achieved their desired objective through the ballet instead of bullet. Besides that they have not officially announced abandonment of their Strategy of "Prachanda Path", which is solely designed to declare Nepal as totalitarian one party (communist) regime. As a matter of fact it is obvious that whatever they are staging now is just a drama; they are fully committed to achieve their end result by all means.
If we want to see Nepal as a peaceful democratic country, first and foremost essential prerequisite is to remove fears of the arms and weapons from the society. Realizing the present facts, the peace in Nepal is very far away and there is no room to be optimistic. Nevertheless, peace in Nepal is achievable if all actors become serious and honest. The UNMIN is officially involved to resolve the crisis. The biggest responsibility and accountability lies on the shoulders of the Mr. Ian Martin, head of the UNMIN and his team. I am sure they have understood that the fractured and incomplete management of arms and combatants will not pave the way to establish peaceful environment which is one of the basis to hold free and fair election of constituent assembly. Bottom line is that - there is no need to hurry; what we need is every thing must be done step by step in best possible way for long lasting peace in Nepal.
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(Rajat KC is freelancer and can be contacted by email rajatkc @ gmail.com)

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