KATHMANDU, April 19: The Maoist ex-combatants qualified for officer-level positions in the Nepal Army (NA) hierarchy have threatened to opt for voluntary retirement if they are awarded positions in the NA directorate as per the recommendations of the PLA leadership.
“We no longer have any revolutionary ideals. We are joining the army for jobs. So why should we be deprived of senior positions? Is it not injustice?" said a junior commander from the fifth division.
As per the tacit understanding between the parties, the PLA leadership will recommend positions for the ex-combatants in the NA directorate.
The combatants told Republica that they would return home with their voluntary retirement paychecks if the provision of making recommendations is not scrapped.
This will be yet another blow to the Maoist party that has been witnessing an ever-decreasing number of combatants opting to join NA.
As of Wednesday, of the 9705 combatants, 6413 have opted for voluntary retirement dashing the hope of the party that after hard-bargaining had made other parties agree to integrate up to 6,500 combatants.
There are many combatants who have passed grade 12 in the last few years and are physically fit. They have lately been more assertive that the NA should take into account individual qualifications and not violate the spirit of free competitions while determining their ranks.
Battalion commander Debu Budha Magar from Hattikhor said there must be competitions at least among those who are in the same ranks in PLA.
"We have demanded that the commanders not make recommendations. No one will be hurt if the combatants are awarded positions on the basis of competition," he said, adding that he would opt for voluntary retirement if there is no merit-based selection.
But senior commanders argued that they have made recommendations based on prior work experiences of the PLA personnel. "Those who worked as administrative personnel have been recommended for junior positions and those in the infantry for senior positions," said a senior commander requesting anonymity.
But Buda Magar dismisses such an argument.
"It is not our fault. We worked where our seniors deputed us," he said, adding that he is ready to compete with anyone.
But second division commander Suk Bahadur Roka Magar said the PLA leadership is making recommendations based on the criteria set by the last general staff meeting.
"Everybody can fight for senior positions after the bridge course is over," he said.
But the combatants are not convinced as there will be separate bridge courses for cadet and non-cadet positions. “Once we are part of NA, we will naturally qualify for senior positions. We should be given a chance to fight for the position of second lieutenant," said a combatant from the fifth division who is currently an undergraduate student in Dang.
Many combatants and junior commanders feel nepotism and favoritism ruled while the commanders prepared the list for senior positions in NA. If the juniors who possess qualifications for the senior positions opt for voluntary retirement, the integration number will decline further.
from Republica English Daily Newspaper