Friday, February 10, 2012

Retiring combatants worried about future

ITAHARI, Feb 10: As he prepares to lead a civilian life after voluntary retirement, former Maoist combatant Shyam Rai of Panchthar is now deep in anxiety over what the future holds in store for him.

“We have hurt many people while fighting as a Maoist combatant.” he said. Though much has changed in the lives of the combatants since they were cantoned in the camps after UNMIN verification, the fear that that they would remain ostracized in the society continues to haunt them.

Rai, who is living in a satellite cantonment in Tandi under the first divisional headquarters of the Maoist army, said he is planning to live a humble life without getting involved in politics if villagers accept him back. Rai is on medication for head injuries he sustained in a bomb attack during the war.

“Sometime I lose consciousness due to the pain in my eyes,” he said.

Rai said he decided to join the Maoist army under pressure but that he now felt proud to have contributed to peace and the new constitution in the country. “Politicians should do everything possible to conclude the peace and constitution drafting process. Else, our posterity will never forgive them,” he complained.

Another combatant in Tandi satellite camp, Tulasa Adhikari, is also preparing herself for a civilian life after receiving a check worth Rs 250,000. She recounted her horrible experience of war with security personnel in various places including in Ghodetar of Bhojpur, Surunga of Jhapa and Ilam. “It will take sometime for us to get rehabilitated in the society,” she said.

Adhikari joined Maoist army when she was a 10th grader. “I was a brilliant student then. I decided to join the Maoist army out of anger against established authority,” she said.

Adhikari got married to Brigade Vice-commander Dipendra Bhandari at Tandi satellite camp and has a 15-month-old son. Bhandari, however, has chosen to be a part of the national army.

Most combatants opting for voluntary retirement are worried over their rehabilitation in society. “Parents had great expectations from us. But now we are forced to return home with a meager Rs 250, 000,” said JB Sherma of Taplejung. “We joined the Maoist war putting our life at risk. We are not happy to leave cantonment this way.”
Sherma said he belongs to a very poor family.

Another combatant Rupan Rai of Panchthar said dirty politics had changed their life for the worse. “We fought for the country and the people. But now we are forced to return home. We will change our decision if the parties fail to conclude the peace process.

Altogether 721 Maoist combatants opted for voluntary retirement from the Maoist first divisional headquarter in Chulachuli and its satellite cantonments.

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