"You may visit the cantonments to begin your work, but don´t blame us if our comrades don´t participate in the process," sources quoted commanders as telling the Special Committee secretariat members, who are supposed to reach the cantonements on Tuesday leading 91 staffers to begin the much-awaited voluntary retirment of the 7000-plus combatants.
The PLA commanders have been demanding that the government clarify the confusion surrounding the rank harmonization and education level; arrange retirement package for the combatants as per their current ranks, give special package for the physically disabled and the disqualified; and hand over letters of appreciation to the combatants for their contribution to the "People´s War".
Talking to Republica, PLA commanders said they were not consulted while taking the "abrupt decision" to send the PLA members home, and that they will not be responsible if the combatants defy the process.
"It will be better if you ask the prime minister how he implements his decision. We were not involved in the decision- making process, but have been ordered to be ready to send the combatants home. So, we should not be held responsible if the process fails, "said PLA second division commander Suk Bahadur Roka Magar.
After the PLA faction led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya put forward a 10-point demand to the party leadership, the commanders from the party establishment also made similar demands.
The commanders have also objected to the decision to send home those opting for voluntary retirement without taking the process of integration simultaneously.
Suk Bahadur Rokka Magar from Dudhauli cantonments claimed that the combatants are not in a mood to participate in the process until various issues related to integration are settled.
PLA commanders unhappy with ´abrupt decision´
In their meeting with the party leadership on Sunday, PLA commanders vented their ire against the "abrupt decision" to release the combatants opting for voluntary retirement without first addressing their concerns.
When party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal formally informed them of the decision for the first time, complete silence prevailed in the room for a few minutes.
"We have already taken the decision [about the voluntary retirement]. Please give your opinion about the decision," a commander quoted Dahal as saying during a meeting at Dahal´s residence.
After a silence of about five minutes, the commanders hurled series of questions at the leadership.
"Why did you instruct us to halt the process in the first place? And why are you asking us to resume it now even though none of the party´s demands and concerns have been met?" a commander quoted Suk Bahadur Roka Magar, division commander of the Second Division, as asking the party leadership.
According to him, apart from Dahal, Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, Vice-chairman Baburam Bhattarai (who is also the prime minister and head of the Special Committee) and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa were present at the meeting. It was the first time that Thapa, who was nominated head of the PLA after the Dhobighat accord's party Central Committee meeting, had participated in a meeting with the PLA.
After Roka Magar, it was Tej Bahadur Oli from the Fourth Division who raised the questions. "Will you levy tax on the money to be received as retirement package, provide appreciation letters to the combatants and settle the rank harmonization disputes?" a participant quoted Oli as saying.
Bhattarai responded that the money received by combatants in retirement package would not be taxed. He also said that negotiations over rank harmonization are going on and the combatants would be given appreciation letters after some time.
The commanders seemed convinced that they did not have other options but to obey the party directives. They avoided getting into details due to the environment of mistrust.
|from Republica English Daily news paper|