KATHMANDU, Nov 29: After leading a life of uncertainty and shortages at the cantonments since 2007, personnel of the Maoist People´s Liberation Army (PLA) are finally heaving a sigh of relief, with most of them opting for either integration or voluntary retirement.
But a few Maoist fighters are luckier than others. The sons and daughters of top Maoist echelons, who have been registered as combatants but are living a comfortable life with their parents in Kathmandu, have gone back to the cantonments, and will enjoy the same packages.
"It is not that we are enjoying the comforts of city life. We are working with our parents as their staff," said Femash Pun, son of PLA chief Nanda Kishor Pun. He is registered as company commander at the Fifth Division in Rolpa.
As per the Agreement on Management of the Monitoring of the Arms and Armies, only certain number combatants could go on leave for a certain period of time only
Others among these lucky combatants are Rahul Mahara and Nirmal Mahara, both sons of standing committee member Krishna Bahadur Mahara, and Prabha Bogati, daughter of Secretary Posta Bahadur Bogati.
The wives of some Maoist leaders who have been staying with their spouses in Kathmandu have also been entitled to the packages. Among them are Laxmi Poudel, wife of Janardan Sharma, and Yogmaya Banjade, who was recently divorced from Maoist leader Top Bahadur Rayamajhi.
In fact, the party has also formally deployed the wives of Maoist leaders as the latter´s staff.
Interestingly, these leaders from the Dahal faction of the party, who have issued a decree to the combatants to opt for integration, have not prevented their own sons and daughters from enjoying the lucrative voluntary retirement packages.
But the sons and daughters deny that the party has issued any formal decree or that they have been advised by their parents to choose voluntary packages.
"It is not that I was advised by my parents to seek voluntary retirement. I have been practicing journalism and still continue in the profession," said Prabha, company vice-commander from the Fifth Division at Rolpa. Bogati, 23, works as a reporter for Kathmandu-based Himalayan Television.
Laxmi, wife of Janardan Sharma, argued that she was interested in joining the NA, but added that she was not in sound health. "My age also doesn´t allow me to join the NA," says Laxmi, 45, who is a company commander from the Third Division at Shaktikhor.
Similarly, Rahul, son of Krishna Bahadur Mahara, stated that he has opted for voluntary retirement as he wants to build his career in politics, not in the army. "I am more interested in politics that anything else," said Rahul, who is a platoon commander.
Interestingly, Rahul was a protagonist in the Nepali movie Kishan. His elder brother Nirmal is brigade vice-commander in the Fifth Division.
The Maoist establishment faction issued a fiat to PLA personnel to opt for integration to counter the party radical faction that has asked them to choose voluntary retirement.