|71 Former PLA commanders who have been selected for officer position in the Nepal Army pose for a group at Sainik Aswasiya Mahavidyalaya, Chitawan. photo curtsey: Sudeep Thakuri|
KATHMANDU, Oct 7: Former People´s Liberation Army (PLA) commanders, who have been selected as Nepal Army officers, are going on 45-day home leave before joining national army training.
They will receive their appointment letters and movement orders Sunday before leaving for home leave.
With their final selection, the six-year national debate among political parties on the integration of former Maoist combatants has finally been taken to a logical conclusion.
Though the political parties committed themselves in the Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2006 to complete the integration process in six months, it has taken six years.
In the final stage of integration, 75 former Maoist commanders applied for NA officer positions and 71 of them were selected. Of those failing to make officer positions, three have opted to apply for lower positions and one decided to take voluntary retirement. The other 1,388 former combatants were earlier selected for non-officer positions in the NA.
They have already left on 45-day home leave. The non-officer appointees have been instructed to join seven-months of training starting November 21. Those selected for officer ranks will be given 12-month training.
Peace and Reconstruction Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi and representatives of the special committee -Ram Sharan Mahat, Minendra Rijal and Gopal Singh Bohara -extended their greetings to the newly selected officers on Friday.
"I never thought during the People´s War period that one day I would be joining the NA as an officer," Himmat Baral Magar, 32, a former PLA brigade commander, told Republica over the phone, adding that he has taken it as part of the glorious history of the PLA.
"I feel proud joining the Nepal Army," said Magar, who had joined the PLA 14 years ago before passing his SLC. His brother Sudarshan had already joined underground politics, and his wife Kalpana, who was also a Maoist combatant, has opted for voluntary retirement.
Himmat has also published his battlefield memoirs, Samar Yatra [War journey], chronicling the achievements and losses for Nepal and the Nepali people and his own unforgettable experiences.
While joining their erstwhile foe, the former Maoists harbour some doubts as well. But they are hopeful that they would not get into trouble as NA personnel who fought the Maoists were individuals while the NA is a national institution.
"Yesterday we were enemy but it was the need of the times. Now, the situation has changed. NA officers and rank and file also have been saying that what is past is past, we should forget our bitter history and work together for a better future," said Ram Bahadur Lama, 34, former PLA brigade commander.
PLA had recommended its combatants of up to the rank of company vice-commander for appointment as NA officers. The former PLA were informed by their mother party UCPN (Maoist) that the highest positions in the NA they would be getting were one colonel and two lieutenant-colonels.
Of those selected, first division commander Yam Bahadur Adhikari had the highest rank in the PLA. There are also three division vice-commanders, including Padam Bahadur Lama, Birendra BM and Basudev Ghimire.
Similarly, four PLA brigade commanders have been selected as NA officers. Others who have been selected for officer rank are Maoist brigade vice-commanders, battalion commanders and vice-commanders and company commanders and vice-commanders.
The UCPN (Maoist) had cantoned 32,000 plus combatants. Later, 19,602 of them were verified by UNMIN and the rest were cosidered minors or late recruits. Of those verified, 9000 plus opted for integration and the rest chose voluntary retirement. Finally, 1,391 have been selected for rank and file intregration and 71 commanders have made it to officer positions in the national army.