|Prabina Gole Namuna (photo: Nabin Bibhas)|
KATHMANDU, Nov 13: Neither the ordeals of jungle life nor the well-trained state soldiers could discourage them. As the members of the Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA), they were at the forefront of successive battles and fought the state forces bravely for the sake of a utopia the party promised.
But they matter less as the peace process strides forward, and it is especially true of over 1,000 PLA amputees who have been left to fend for themselves at this juncture.
“Others can take up a job, get involved in politics and even begin a new life. But I have nowhere to go and no scope for job,” says Lal Bahadur Oli, 30, from the Fifth Division, who lost vision after he got injured during the battle of Bhalubang in October 2003. He lost his vision altogether due to torture meted out to him while being held in police detention in Taulihawa later in the year.
Oli, like other disabled combatants, could not make it to senior positions in the PLA hierarchy, and will get only Rs 500,000 in rehabilitation. The peace deal doesn’t make alternative arrangements for those who have been incapacitated by serious injuries and cannot work for survival.
“Without any regular source of income, I will soon be rendered penniless,” he says.
Oli, who hails from the hill district of Salyan, was taken to the border town of Tulsipur in India for treatment after being injured in the battle, but he was arrested by the Indian authorities and handed over to the Nepal Police. According to him, the police in Taulihawa gave electric shock to his eyes, making him permanently blind.
|Bhakta Raj Thapa Magar Apil (photo: Nabin Bibhas)|
Prabina Gole Namuna, from the Third Division, is more angered than frustrated. “It is absurd that the leaders who cannot take care of their own cadres promise to change the face of Nepal,” says amputee Namuna, 22, who was severely injured when the army showered bullets from chopper at the party’s rally in Thokarpa, Sindhupalchowk, in March 2005.
Namuna, who hails from Lalitpur and joined the PLA at 13, survived but lost her left hand. She says the PLA was taught that all were equal, but she is surprised at the rehabilitation package in which the commanders are getting much more than the ordinary combatants and at the party leadership’s apathy toward the injured, and the kin of the ‘martyrs’ and the disappeared.
“Now I realize the war was only for power and position,” she says.
Bhaktaraj Thapa Magar, aka Apil, of the Third Division, is now convinced that the dreams of the revolution will never materialize.
|Lal Bahadur Oli Suresh (photo: Nabin Bibhas)|
The peace deal also remains silent on the plight of the disabled combatants who lost the most during the war, but suddenly find themselves left to fend for themselves. “Not all what the commanders say is true, not all what the leaders say is true, and not all is well. A day may come soon when they have to regret for what they are doing,” says Magar.