CHITWAN, Jan 22: Amid a special program on Saturday, People´s Liberation Army (PLA) fighters and their cantoned arms will be formally handed over to the Special Committee on Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants. The fighters have been languishing around seven cantonments and 21 satellite camps for about four years.
The handover ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. onwards at the Shaktikhor-based No 2 Division of the PLA.
The ceremony will be observed by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Home Minister Bhim Rawal, Peace Minister Rakam Chemjong, Army chief Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, Inspector General of Armed Police Force Sanat Basnet, distinguished guests from the diplomatic community and human rights activists.
PLA fighters have erected welcome arches from Tandi in Chitwan to the Shaktikhor cantonment, and PLA flags have been hoisted on one side of the arches and national flags on the other. The cantonment football ground, where the formal ceremony will he held, can accommodate some 300 people.
Govind Prasad Kusum and Dhruba Sharma, secretaries at the Home and Peace Ministries, have been working on the final preparations for the event. All Special Committee members excluding Maoist representatives have already arrived for the ceremony.
PLA fighters have been making special preparations for a parade and march-past.
“The program will formally start after PLA fighters converge on the grounds and welcome the guests,” said Khim Bahadur Budhathoki, a Maoist combatant.
Cantonment spokesperson Janak Bista said PLA fighters will leave no stone unturned to demonstrate their trust in the government, just as with the Nepal Army.
Meanwhile, security in Chitwan district has been tightened, in view of the arrival of distinguished guests from various sectors.
Currently, 19,600 Maoist combatants are living in 28 cantonments across the country.
The program will begin following welcoming remarks from Special Committee and Maoist standing committee member Barsa Man Pun. After that PLA chief Nanda Kishor Pun will apprise the fighters of the importance of the program.
The national anthem will be played followed by Dahal handing over the PLA flag to the prime minister. The national flag will be hoisted in place of the PLA flag. After that PM Nepal will address the function. On the occasion, PM Nepal will shed light on how the command and control of the fighters will be exercised from now onwards.
Also, Dahal will authenticate the PLA handover by signing the minutes.