Sunday, March 4, 2012

Former PLA commanders plan national gathering

KATHMANDU, March 4: Maoist ex-combatants, who opted for voluntary retirement, are planning to hold a national gathering, seeking active roles in the party organization.

Retired PLA commanders say they are compelled to hold the conclave as pressure tactic since the party brass has remained silent over their future political life under the changed circumstances.

"We are also in need of a forum to articulate ourselves, and our concerns. We have almost lost hope with the party and the state. So we are taking the initiative to organize ourselves," said Ram Lal Roka Magar, former vice-commander at the fifth division. A meeting of the former commanders in Nawalparasi last week had decided to hold such a gathering.
Roka Magar said they are yet to work out the details and formally fix the date and venue for the gathering, but there is almost consensus that it will be held in the third week of March in Dang.

A sizeable section of the 7,000-plus ex-combatants, who opted for voluntary retirement package and were released from the cantonments, want to join active politics and are seeking roles in the party.

The former rebels say they were assured by their leaders before quitting the cantonments that they would be accommodated in the committees of their respective districts, but the leadership embroiled in intra-party factionalism has failed to honor the promise.

Former commander Dipendra Kumar Gharti Magar said they will invite Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, and General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa to address the gathering.

The former combatants now openly accuse the party leaders of exploiting them for “personal aggrandizement” and ill-treating the former after their “vested interests” were fulfilled.

"The party leadership turned a blind eye to our situation by not adjusting us in the party organization. How can the party leadership abandon people who devoted themselves for the causes of the party?" said Gharti Magar.

The former commanders say they are not sure about their future strategy, but add that the gathering will deliberate the issue at length and decide how to go about it.

The PLA general staff meeting had recently decided to form an organization of the ex-combatants, like those of the Nepal Police or the Nepal Army, but the party has not yet taken any such initiative, and it is not clear if that would satisfy the former commanders.

Former division vice commanders Roka Magar, Udaya Bahadur Chalaune, Nep Bahadur Kuwar Magar and Durga Prasad Chaudhari and dozens of brigade commanders and brigade vice-commanders have actively been voicing the concerns of the ex combatants.
from Republica English Daily Newspaper

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