Nepal: As the People’s Liberation Army is disbanded, what happens to the warriors?

 [Now, in the last stage of disbanding the Nepalese People’s Liberation Army–five years after the Maoist party abandoned the revolutionary armed struggle and fighters were placed in demilitarized camps–the majority of these people’s warriors have been enticed to accept cash payments for “retirement”, while a minority are being brought into the reactionary Nepali army on an individual, de-politicized basis.  And nearly none have accepted the option of “rehabilitation” (education, job training), as previously “rehabilitated” fighters are deeply critical of the program.  —  Frontlines ed.] ————————

More combatants likely to opt for voluntary retirement

KIRAN CHAPAGAIN, MYREPUBLICA.com

KATHMANDU, Nov 21: With categorization of around 2,000 combatants by Sunday, a few trends relating to the management of ex-Maoist fighters have emerged: majority of ex-Maoist combatants are likely to opt for voluntary retirement, around forty percent for integration and an insignificant number will go for rehabilitation packages.

“Altogether 1,941 combatants, including 1,577 males and 364 females, have been categorized by Sunday. A majority of the categorized combatants — close to 60 percent — have opted for voluntary retirement while around 40 percent have chosen integration,” said Balananda Sharma, coordinator of the secretariat under the Special Committee when asked about the general trend in the ongoing categorization process.

Preliminary data also shows that only a very nominal number of combatants are likely to opt for rehabilitation packages that include vocational training and education. Of the 497 combatants verified over the last two days in the Shaktikhor cantonment, only around 20 combatants have opted for rehabilitation package. Even these combatants have sought time for further consultations and are likely to review their decisions, said Sharma from Chitwan where he is leading a categorization team.

People involved in the verification say a very small number of combatants are opting for rehabilitation packages mainly because of the past experience of rehabilitation of disqualified combatants and lack of trust over implementation of the promised rehabilitation schemes.

“Everyone says they were not happy with the rehabilitation of the disqualified combatants by the UN,” said Sharma.

The UN had rehabilitated over 4,000 disqualified combatants, including child soldiers, in 2010. These combatants disqualified by the United Nations Mission in Nepal during the 2007 verification of the Maoist army have frequently expressed their dissatisfaction over their rehabilitation.

Further elaborating the reasons behind the utter lack of interest among the combatants for rehabilitation option, Sharma said, “We found the combatants casting doubts over effective implementation of the rehabilitation package by the government.”

The combatants are also disinterested in opting for the rehabilitation package as they would have to spend a minimum of one year in learning vocational skills before being eligible to claim rehabilitation package.

The categorization of the last two days also shows another trend rife among female combatants.  It shows that unmarried and young women have tended to choose integration while mother combatants have preferred voluntary retirement, according to Sharma.

Meanwhile, a team of Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Satya Pahadi, Maoist leaders Janardan Sharma, PLA Chief Nanda Kishor Pun and Secretary at the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction Dhurba Prasad Sharma visited different cantonments on Sunday to oversee the progress of categorization.

“We are visiting the cantonments to clarify confusions on integration and rehabilitation with PLA members,” said Sharma, a former Peace and Reconstruction Minister.

With the current pace of categorization, the seven teams of 210 surveyors is expected to complete categorization of over 19,000 Maoist combatants by November 28, five days later than the deadline agreed by the parties on November 1.

“The categorization will be completed by November 28 if everything goes smoothly,” said Sharma.

Initially, the Special Committee had planned to categorize around 300 combatants in each cantonment every day.

“This pace will gain momentum in the days ahead. We categorized more combatants today than we did on the first day,” said member of the secretariat under the Special Committee Dr Dipak Prakash Bhatta, who is leading a categorization team in Surkhet.

Published on 2011-11-21 00:00:09

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