KATHMANDU, Feb 8: Tension runs high in all the seven main cantonments following incidents of fighting between combatants opting for integration and voluntary retirement and their commanders over the money in the PLA fund worth millions of rupees, sources said on Tuesday.
Fighting between combatants and commanders have been reported in the cantonments in Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Surkhet after the retiring combatants demanded that their commanders return their money deposited in the PLA fund while the commanders refused, said sources at the secretariat for the Special Committee on condition of anonymity.
Voluntary retirement of the Maoist combatants is in progress since last Friday.
The PLA combatants said they used to contribute Rs 1,000 each month from their allowance to the fund maintained by the commanders in each cantonment.
The situation in other cantonments has also turned ugly with the commanders refusing to return the combatants´ money.
Security has been beefed up in each cantonment with deployment of Armed Police Force in support of the Nepal Police personnel deployed for security in the cantonments.
The strength of security personnel has been increased from 25 to 100 in each of the cantonments for security of the officials involved in the voluntary retirement process, combatants and arms containers, according to sources.
Police personnel who were earlier kept outside the cantonments have been called in for security from Tuesday while internal security for arms containers has also been beefed up following the incident in Surkhet where former disqualified combatants tried to seize arms from the containers on Sunday.
In the Chitwan-based Shaktikhor cantonment, retiring combatants sparred with their commanders Monday night and Tuesday morning after the latter refused to return their money.
As the situation turned tense, all the retiring combatants left the cantonments on Wednesday. They were supposed to leave the cantonments by February 12 after attending a farewell function to be organized by the UCPN (M) on February 11, a source said. Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai were scheduled to attend the function.
In the cantonment-based in Nawalparasi, Divisional Commander Tej Bahadur Oli, who is also a member of the secretariat for the Special Committee, has been hiding following threats from the retiring combatants, said an official deployed at the cantonment.
The situation in the cantonment in Surkhet continued to remain tense since the Sunday´s vandalism. The retiring combatants have demanded that the commanders return their money while former disqualified combatants, with support from YCL, continue to threaten to disrupt the process, said a source at the cantonment.
Peace and Reconstruction Minister Satya Pahadi on Monday opted not to visit the Surkhet cantonment for security reasons though her team comprising Peace and Reconstruction Secretary Dhruba Prasad Sharma visited the cantonment to inspect the Sunday´s vandalism. Pahadi stayed back at a police post in Chhinchu, Surkhet while the team visited the cantonment.
The situation also remains tense in Dahaban cantonment in Rolpa, said a source there. YCL has threatened to disrupt the ongoing voluntary retirement process from Wednesday while former disqualified combatants and YCL have jointly warned of disturbing the process in the cantonment in Chulachuli, Ilam.
Tension has also been reported in the cantonment in Kailali.
The cantonment in Sindhuli is relatively calm.
from republica English daily newspape