Saturday, February 4, 2012

Combatants-turned-YCL rue their lot

KATHMANDU, Feb 4: Narendra Kumar Bhul, 25, a member of the Young Communist League (YCL), shares his apartment in Bhaktapur with four colleagues and knocks on the doors of party leaders to make ends meet.

Former company vice-commander of the People´s Liberation Army (PLA) Seventh Division and a promising party cadre, Bhul was asked to exit his cantonment to join the party´s Young Communist League, all in the cause of revolution.

Bhul, who is from Accham district and had joined the PLA when he was still a teenager, now says his hopes and aspirations were naive.

While his colleagues who remained back in the cantonments are now returning home with hefty checks for voluntary retirement, Bhul feels left in the lurch.

"I have to turn to friends for two square meals a day. I don´t know what to do and how I´ll eke out a living," he says.

If Bhul had not left his cantonment, he would have gotten Rs 600,000 as a voluntary retirement package, or he could have opted for integration or rehabilitation.

Bhul is not the only former Maoist combatant to be deprived of state benefits for having joined the YCL.

Just before sending their combatants into the cantonments in 2007, the Maoists had picked out the promising ones and directed them to work for the YCL with a view to fomenting an urban insurrection for state capture.

Initially, they received Rs 1,000 every month out of the salaries of the cantoned combatants, and they were assured of treatment on par with the PLA. But things changed fast. The party, faced with the realities of open politics, soon left them to fend for themselves.

While the "combatants" in the cantonements, many of whom had never been PLA personnel, are now heading home with cash payments, the real combatants who went through the ordeals of war and saw the worst battles are left cursing their fate.

"This is like the proverb ´Kam garne Kalu makai khane Bhalu´ [Kalu does the hard work but Bhalu reaps the fruits], said Shyam Kumar Budha Magar, a member of the YCL central committee.

Not that party leaders have not raised their voices for the YCL. At a recent meeting with Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, PLA commanders demanded that their concerns be addressed.

At the last central committee meeting, party leader Barshman Pun had raised the YCL issue and demanded that the party provide a relief package to those who fought in the war for at least two years.

Last December, the party radical faction had put forth a memorandum to the leadership demanding rehabilitation of YCL members.

"Unfortunately, the YCL has been brought to a state of dissolution. We are very sad over the difficulties faced by the PLA and YCL," the memorandum stated.

Dahal´s document presented at the last central committee meeting promised to do something for YCL members, but the latter are not sure what he has in mind. 


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