Nepal: ‘Disqualified’ PLA combatants lay siege to UCPN-M headquarters

[Revolutionary soldiers of the now-disbanded–(mission not accomplished)– People’s Liberation Army, continue to loudly refuse to quietly go away and disappear. — Frontlines ed.]



Say they will stay put until party addresses their woes

KATHMANDU, 29 November 2012: Hundreds of ‘disqualified’ PLA fighters have been laying siege to Unified CPN-Maoist headquarters in Paris Danda, Koteshwor, since yesterday, demanding that the party address their concerns at the earliest. Security personnel in huge numbers have been deployed to avert any confrontation and damage to the party office.

The ‘disqualified’ fighters, who prefer to call themselves ‘unverified’, today claimed that they have taken the party headquarters under their control. Lenin Bista, who is leading the ‘disqualified’ fighters, said the combatants were ‘not verified in a proper way’ and that they were forced to leave cantonments with only bus fares in their pockets.

The move is the latest one in their series of protests the disqualified fighters have organised in the past. They said the party turned a blind eye to their plight and concerns despite their pressure campaigns several times.

UCPN-M Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai-led government, after several rounds of talks with them, had decided to allocate Rs 600 million in order to give Rs 2 lakh to each of the disqualified fighters. The move was challenged in the Supreme Court and the court in the first week of November issued a stay order, forcing the government to hold back.

Bista claimed that as many as 200 former combatants have been staying put outside the party headquarters while some 150 are on the office premises (inside the gate). The fighters had yesterday padlocked the party office but unlocked it at 3:00pm today following a mutual understanding with party leadership. “We have pitched tents outside the headquarters and surviving on beaten rice and dalmoth (a ready made snack made of golden gram or red lentils). This is the survival technique the party taught us during the time of war,” said Bista.

UCPN-M Spokesperson Agni Sapkota said the party has taken the disqualified fighters’ concerns seriously and that the leadership has told them to maintain calm. But the fighters said they didn’t believe their leaders’ words anymore. “We want their words to be translated into action. We will not leave the party headquarters until the leadership expresses its commitment in writing,” said Bista and added that they would launch stern protests in the Valley and throughout the country if the government kept on dilly-dallying. He warned that former fighters will otherwise make the leaders and ministers’ life difficult and that they would not mind vandalising government vehicles.

According to party sources, party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Bhattarai will hold a meeting with disqualified fighters tomorrow in a bid to get their concerns addressed.

Who are ‘unverified’ combatants

KATHMANDU: Following a peace deal in 2006, the then CPN-M came overground and as per the agreement, its PLA fighters, then said to be around 30,000 plus, were settled in cantonments across the country. A UN mission then conducted a verification in 2007 during which around 4,008 fighters were considered ‘ineligible’ on several grounds (some were found to be minors), and they were discharged from cantonments as ‘disqualified’. These disqualified fighters then left for home but later came up with several demands, including scrapping of the ‘disqualified’ tag put on their heads. In addition, they are demanding that either they be settled in government services or be given lump sum amount equal to what the fighters opting for voluntary retirement received, which amounts to around half a million rupees.

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