POST B BASNET/KIRAN PUN
With the backing of a large section from the party establishment, PLA commanders from the radical faction have lately raised their voices against the party decision to retain 50 percent of the total amount meant for those who were absent from the cantonments but turned up for the sizeable voluntary retirement packages.
“It’s a great injustice to them. They should get in full the promised amount,” said Ram Lal Roka Magar, vice-commander from the Fifth Division, who belongs to the radical faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya.
According to him, a team of commanders is arriving in Kathmandu in a couple of days to take up the issue with party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, military in-charge Ram Bahadur Thapa and PLA chief Nanda Kishor Pun, among others.
It may be recalled that a PLA general staff meeting chaired by Dahal had decided to retain 50 percent of the total amount to be given for voluntary retirement to absent personnel who turned up during the combatant categorization process.
The third point of a circular issued by the party after the general staff meeting states: “We should call back the absent personnel, except those involved in criminal activities, and give them 50 percent of the amount promised in the package.”
Sources say junior commanders close to Dahal and Bhattarai have thrown their weight behind the financial issues raised by commanders from the Baidya faction.
“This is not an issue of any one faction. Nobody can snatch away the rights of the PLA personnel,” said Udaya Bahadur Chalaune, vice-commander from the Fourth Division.
Party insiders say over 3,000 personnel who were absent from the cantonments for the last few years came back for the lucrative packages.
Even those who were in the Gulf, Malaysia and other countries for employment had returned to the cantonments.
Where are our identity cards,
The commanders have not yet distributed among PLA personnel the identity cards issued by surveyors under the Special Committee. This has created consternation among the PLA rank and file who have become suspicious of the commanders’ intentions.
“They perhaps want a certain percentage of our money for various causes. But this will be unacceptable for us,” said a PLA combatant from the Third Division.
He said the PLA personnel asked the commanders for their identity cards but to no avail. “We have rules here. It’s none of your concern,” he quoted a commander as telling them.
Special Committee member Minendra Rijal said that the identity cards were handed over to the commanders to be distributed among their personnel as soon as possible. “I heard about it from you. It seems they still want to maintain a hold on the personnel in an unethical manner,” said Rijal.
It may be recalled that the Baidya faction commanders have also vociferously demanded the return of money belonging to the personnel and kept with the party as ‘deposit’. Similarly, they have backed the demand of PLA personnel in the security details for senior leaders to give them the money meant for their rations.