Most ex-PLA could retake arms: StudyNearly two-thirds of former Maoist combatants, now living as civilians, say that they could retake arms if their plight continued to be overlooked.
Nearly two-thirds of former Maoist combatants, now living as civilians, say that they could retake arms if their plight continued to be overlooked.
In a grim finding of a research that perhaps is indicative of a failed reintegration process, over 75 percent of the respondents said they could retake arms if they were forced. The research was conducted by Berhof Foundation and The University of York in 2014-15.
Over 19,000 verified ex-combatants either took voluntary retirement or opted for integration at the end of 2012. As many as 1,420 former Maoist fighters were integrated into the Nepal Army on July 5, 2013 as per a deal between the UCPN (Maoist) and the government.
Former ‘People’s Liberation Army’ members have struggled to live a normal live after transitioning back to society. With few vocational or livelihood skills, most combatants reportedly live on the brink of poverty. The ex-PLA members have moved to urban areas, including Kathmandu and other parts of the country where other ex-combatants also live. Of them, around 40 percent said that small business is a source of their livelihood, 17 percent get support from a spouse working abroad while 10 percent claim to have no source of livelihood.
Former combatants of the then CPN Maoist have been frustrated by the indifference of the party leadership to their plight. They say that they been left in the lurch.
A total of 95 percent of the respondents prioritised economic need, followed by 37 percent education, 14 percent medical treatment and stigma nine percent. The research used qualitative method, interviewing 241 former combatants from catchment areas of seven cantonment divisions, while additional 100 others in focused group discussion. The interviews were also conducted by ex-PLA.
The frustration among the PLA is the result of what they received on demobilisation at the end. “We never fought for the money,” said Prem Bayak, a former combatant, who leads the Ex-PLA National Network. “We had fought for social justice, which we still support but it hurts deeply when we are labelled as ayogya [disqualified].”
To make the situation worse, the state has not been able to define whether they are victims or perpetrators. “If you cherish the change, you should know that it was possible because of us,” said Lenin Bista, chair of the Discharged People’s Liberation Army, Nepal. “We urge the state to acknowledge our contribution, not to treat us as criminals.”