KATHMANDU, DEC 23 – In a disclosure that is bound to send shockwaves, half-a-dozen Indian nationals are among the 19,602 Maoist combatants verified by UNMIN in 2007, according to UNMIN’s database provided to the government.
The issue came to light during the regrouping process carried out at the seven main cantonment sites last month. A Maoist commander acknowledged that six Indian nationals were among those in the PLA ranks and four of them visited the Third Division Cantonment in Shaktikhor, Chitwan. Three of them are said to have opted for voluntary retirement and one for integration.
Special Committee Secretariat Coordinator Balananda Sharma was leading the survey team that conducted the regrouping process at the cantonment site. “We did not process their survey forms after they could not prove they were Nepali citizens. We wanted to avoid controversy, hence we asked them to come again with substantial proof of Nepali citizenship, said a source at the Special Committee Secretariat. Sharma has briefed Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and special committee members from the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, among others, on the issue.
A Special Committee member said one such combatant told surveyors that he had entered Nepal as an ice-cream seller, but was captured by the Maoists and was drafted into the Maoist army.
In UNMIN’s database seen by the Post, the permanent address of one such combatant—Panalal Kumar Chaudhary—has been recorded as Motihari in Bihar in India.
“We have kept around a dozen forms on hold because the information they provided did not match with UNMIN’s record,” Sharma told the Post.
Recalling the participation of Nepali politicians in India’s independence movement, some other combatants have argued that their affiliation in the “People’s War” should not be looked in a negative way.
PLA commanders, however, are mounting pressure on the government, saying that such combatants should be awarded the package offered by the Special Committee. “During the Beni attack, one youth from Darjeeling who was our supporter became a martyr,” said
commander of the Second Division Suk Bahadur Rokka. “There are six Indian nationals who are in the PLA. They have expressed solidarity with the Nepali revolution, hence they should be given the voluntary retirement package,” he added. Rokka clarified that the combatants with Indian nationalities are not affiliated to any Indian communist party.PHANINDRA DAHALfrom ekantipur