Monday, January 7, 2008

Is Maoist Leadership Losing Control Over its Cadre?

Is Maoist Leadership Losing Control Over its Cadre?

Rajan Pokhrel

Is the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) gradually losing its control over its grass-root cadres and combatants?

CPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda admitted on Friday that cadres of the pro-Maoist Young Communist League have not given up their unruly activities. "It was reported that the YCL cadres have improved their conduct, but this is not true," Prachanda said while visiting Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital at Maharajgunj to meet pro-CPN-UML student leader Deepak Gautam who is fighting for his life after being severely beaten up by YCL cadres in Kavre. ANNFSU central member Gautam was injured in the YCL attack on Monday. Talking to the media, Prachanda reiterated his hackneyed statement that he had issued strong directives to Maoist cadres not to attack any body. While he was crowing, "They will follow the directives," YCL cadres were merrily beating up traders in Baitadi district the same evening. At least a dozen traders were injured by YCL cadres in Khodpe Bazaar of Baitadi. YCL went on a rampage after traders took to the streets protesting against its highhandedness. In Sankhuwasabha, a group of Maoist cadres led by a district committee member severely beat up police inspector Amrit Thapa on Saturday. "They charged me with snatching their posters," Thapa said adding that he never did so. On Tuesday, three pro-Nepali Congress students were injured in an attack by the YCL in Ramechhap district.

Two months ago, Maoist cadres thrashed a Swiss tourist Steve in Kaski in October for allegedly refusing to pay "tourist fee". Steve said: "I had read in the newspapers that Maoist chairman Prachanda had said that his party's policy forbade extortion" adding the Maoist cadres started hitting him with bamboo sticks on his head when he said he could not pay the fee. According to news reports the Maoists are still collecting donation from tourists in the area after setting up checkpoints at different places.

Maoist cadres abducted journalist Birendra Shah from Dhodiya Pipra bazaar of Umzam VDC of Bara district on October 5 and killed him the same day. His body was recovered on November 7. After a huge international and national outcry, the Maoists in a press conference in Kathmandu admitted that party cadres Kundan Foujdar and Ram Ekwal Sahani shot Shah after abducting him. The Maoist brass itself expressed commitment to bring the culprits to book within a month but the murderers are still at large. Maoist cadres abducted Kanchanpur-based journalist Prakash Thakuri from Bhansi Bazaar of Mahendranagar on July 7. His whereabouts is still unknown. Probe panels have already tabled their reports to the government saying Thakuri was abducted and is feared killed e by YCL cadres. The Maoist leadership has kept mum till date about the incident.

Another horrific incident was the abduction of a doctor and officials of the Biratnagar-based Nobel Medical College. Young Communist League (YCL) cadres kidnapped Dr Gyanendra Giri from Kathmandu and the officials and they were severely beaten up. Each time, the Maoist leadership refutes allegations, then admits these and vows not to let such acts be repeated.

The series of atrocities continued, with a group of Maoist cadres looting weapons from the Fikuri police post in Nuwakot district in the first week of August and revolting against their party to form their own Janbadi Yuva Samuh. Rajkumar Regmi 'Sandesh' said that they revolted against the party to protest unequal treatment by the leadership. CPN-UML cadres were attacked in Ramechhap last week while scores of other unruly activities by Maoist cadres were reported in 2007.

In 2007, newspapers publication houses and businesses were targeted by Maoist cadres though its leadership kept parroting that it has no policy of attacking media houses. A few months ago, 10 Maoist Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) men left the Sindhuli camp and joined the Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (Jwala Singh) in Siraha district. The incident raises the question what step will the 12,000 combatants who have been disqualified from the PLA take in future. Will they turn into to political cadres easily? Pro-Maoist Tharu leader Roshan Tharu quit the party and formed a front of Maoist dissidents. Some district cadres revolted against the Maoist leadership in Sindhuli. YCL chief Sagar has threatened to revolt if the party top brass ties up with "nationalist" royalists. There are cogent reasons behind these incidents: unequal treatment, immature schooling in political ideology, reluctance to give up arms and other rude habits, emergence of new armed groups, impunity, lack of security bodies' effectiveness and transitional phase, among others.
Most of the businessmen, common people, teachers, students and farmers among others who were contact for their opinion asked to remain anonymous due to fear of revenge, but the majority of them averred that the Maoist leadership was losing control of its cadres. A senior police officer said it was difficult to book guilty Maoist cadres. "If we arrest any accused Maoist cadre, hundreds of his comrades gherao our office demanding his unconditional release," he said.

Speaking at a programme in the capital on Saturday, CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said the Maoist cadres have not given up their 'looter attitude'. Nepal commented that the grass-root level cadres of Maoists were out of the leadership's control. Continuing unruly activities by the Maoist cadres were harmful for both the peace process and the constituent assembly elections, he added.


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