from Republica English Daily Newspaer
“Though the issues of rank, bridge course and other things are still not clear, we have decided to let the process move forward,” said Second Division Commander Suk Bahadur Roka Magar. “Those who want to take voluntary retirement or those unlikely to meet the criteria for integration will be allowed to take part in voluntary retirement. But we will wait for integration until the outstanding issues are resolved.”
The meeting held in presence of Chief of Maoist Integration Bureau Barshaman Pun, who is also the finance minister, late Monday evening took the decision, paving the way for implementing the integration calendar endorsed by the Special Committee last Wednesday.
Though the plan, which aims to start integration and close the cantonments by April 12, was to be effective from Sunday, the works on the field remained stalled due to the absence of the Maoist division commanders who are in the capital for the meeting. Besides, the commanders have not let the process move forward, demanding that the confusion over the rank, bridge course and other issues relating to the integration be settled first.
The meeting also took up the controversy surrounding the selection of combatants for integration and laid down criteria for recommending combatants for the Nepal Army, in its bid to douse growing frustration and tension in the cantonments over the selection.
The meeting took the decision in view of combatants’ allegations of nepotism and favoritism by division commanders while picking combatants for integration. “The combatants will be selected for integration on the basis of their interest and inclusiveness,” said Roka Magar.
He further said the meeting also took up the allegation that the commanders are going to recommend their preferred combatants for higher ranks in the Nepal Army. Roka Magar said the PLA will recommend combatants for higher ranks on the basis of seniority.
If there are many combatants of the same rank, the PLA will give priority to those who were promoted first. Similarly, the PLA will take decision on ranks of particular combatants on the basis of recruitment date if there are more aspiring candidates for higher ranks. Likewise, if there are more aspiring combatants recruited on the same date, the PLA will choose on the basis of seniority in age.
Roka Magar said division commanders will be sent for integration if they are given the rank of colonel and the PLA will recommend division vicecommanders for the rank of lieutenant colonel. If that happens, the PLA will recommend brigade commanders for the rank of major. Rank for other junior combatants will be determined as per this hierarchy, according to Roka Magar.
In the meantime, the meeting concluded that the number of Maoist combatants who will opt for integration may be less than the allocated quota of 6,500 if the whole process is forwarded without resolving the ambiguity over the rank, the bridge course and other issues related to integration, according to Roka Magar.