KATHMANDU, Mar 11: PLA Battalion Commander Debu Budha Magar abandoned his family in Rolpa 10 years ago to join the Maoist insurgency, and subsequently became a commander in the PLA hierarchy by virtue of his valor.
After languishing in the cantonments for five years, SLC graduate Magar happily opted for integration into the Nepal Army (NA) during the categorization process after reckoning that he will get the plum post of major in the NA hierarchy.
Magar aka Jwala, however, has lately been in dilemma over whether he should seek a career in the military as there are only a limited number of senior positions available for the former rebels in the NA Directorate.
“I am in a watch-and-see mood. I won´t join NA if I don´t get a senior position,” says Magar, now 28
The hope of many commanders, who had passed SLC at the time of joining the PLA, to get senior NA positions has been dashed lately when the NA issued a statement after NA Chief Chhatraman Singh Gurung briefed Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai about the NA´s proposal on the directorate.
As per the NA briefing, there will be 279 officer level positions, including 72 majors for the PLA. The peace deal states that a combatant who had passed at least SLC at the time of joining the PLA and not crossed 24 at that time will be eligible for officer level positions.
There are altogether 125 division vice-commanders, brigade commanders and brigade vice-commanders, aspiring for the post of major in NA hierarchy.
Since all of them cannot get the position of major, the rest, along with battalion commanders and battalion vice-commanders, numbering over 400 altogether, will vie for the post of captain.
Similarly, all of them cannot be accommodated in the position of captain, the rest, along with the company commanders and company vice-commanders, numbering over 800, will have to compete for the post of lieutenants and second lieutenants.
And much to dismay of PLA commanders, the number of Junior Commission officers (Subedar and Jamdar) is also limited. Each of the Battalion comprising 722 personnel will have only 27 JCOs.
The PLA has not yet revealed how many commanders will meet the preliminary education, age and service criteria to qualify for senior positions, but the availability of limited positions for the PLA has put the commanders in a dilemma over whether they should join the NA.
"I will not join the NA if I am to hold a junior position," says Rajendra Pun, now 26, platoon commander at fifth division. He was a certificate level graduate at the time of joining the PLA in 2005.
Arun Budha Magar, a battalion commander from the third division, also says that he will not join the NA without getting a “reasonable” position.
The PLA general staff has directed all the divisions to make selections from among the 9,000-plus combatants who have applied for integration so as to make the number inclusive of gender, region, and ethnicity.
"We have taken into consideration fitness, age, education, and their interests while conducting the internal survey," says Post Bahadur Budha Magar, brigade vice-commander of the forth division.
Magar also said that the company commanders and combatants of higher rank will not join the NA if they are given junior positions.