KATHMANDU, April 9: Uncertainty over the combatants´ ranks in the Nepal Army (NA) hierarchy after integration has thrown the PLA cantonments into a state of confusion.
Tension ran high in the PLA First Division in Ilam and Second Division in Sindhuli Sunday afternoon after combatants spontaneously gathered and began chanting slogans against "nepotism and favoritism" in the selection of commanders for senior NA positions.
"We don´t know what future holds for us. We are being kept in the dark about our positions in the NA after integration," said a commander from the First Division in Ilam, requesting anonymity. The PLA personnel who are qualified for senior positions exceed the number of available positions in the NA directorate, and some commanders suspect that the PLA leadership might have recommended their near and dear ones for senior positions.
The Special Committee had decided to bring the combatants under the NA by April 12, but the new development is likely to delay the government plan.
Most of the combatants who are currently in the cantonments for integration are from the party establishment as those from the party radical camp led by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya have already opted for voluntary retirement.
Talking to Republica, some junior commanders said they are being tagged as "radicals" for demanding transparency while determining their ranks in the directorate.
Low ranking commanders from the fifth division said they had been forced to opt for integration during the categorization process and accused the PLA leadership of not giving them the choice of voluntary retirement now. "They have already selected personnel for specific positions in the NA and are not even giving us the choice of voluntary retirement," said a junior commanders from the fourth division.
In the fourth, second and first division, senior PLA commanders had made public the names of those to be integrated or offered voluntary retirement. Those not satisfied with the selection had torn the name-list pasted on the walls in the cantonments.
Many junior commanders say they will not join NA if they are to get lower positions and also if the leadership recommends the names for NA positions violating the current PLA hierarchy.
"We suspect that the leadership is letting nepotism and favoritism rule while making recommendations for positions in the NA," said a junior commander.
When asked about the concerns of the junior commanders, Brigade Vice-commander Posta Bahadur Budha Magar said, "Those who are not satisfied have also requested in writing for review. We will see what we can do."