It had been suspected all along. And now comes the confirmation: The Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has been shamelessly drawing salaries and ration allowances in the names of combatants who had deserted the cantonments long ago. As of November 28, with just 1,094 combatants (out of the total 19,602) left to be surveyed, only 15,747 combatants have taken part in the survey. That means at least 2,764 combatants are missing, and the number is likely to touch 3,000 by the time the survey is completed. However, till last month the Maoist party was drawing monthly salaries of Rs 6,500 and average daily ration allowances of Rs 92, depending upon the location of the cantonment, in the names of each of the 19,525 combatants. This also means that the Maoist party illegally raked in about 27 million rupees every month from state coffers and lied about it to the government and to the Nepali people.
But this is hardly the whole story. The actual number of PLA deserters could be much higher. Reports from various cantonments suggest that hundreds of PLA deserters were allowed to come back to the cantonments to receive retirement packages of at least Rs 500,000 after signing a bond that the party would take half the money. The 3,000 or so combatants who have not showed up for interviews are thought to be those who have already left the country for employment abroad. This is nothing less than blatant loot of the public exchequer, a crime that deserves urgent investigation and severe punishment. And the scions of top Maoist leaders, who had once registered themselves in the cantonments but were living comfortably in Kathmandu and elsewhere, also turned up at the cantonments just to take part in the survey and returned immediately. Some of them are found to have received double salaries—from the cantonments and as assistants to their powerful moms and dads.
This indicates a continuation of the thinking among Maoists that it’s okay to siphon off money and other resources through whatever means possible to keep their massive and sometimes monstrous organization functioning. The Maoist party hardly bothers about what is morally right or wrong, or what is socially acceptable. It’s, therefore, no surprise that neither the Maoist party or its leaders sense the need to explain to the public why they were drawing salaries in the names of deserters and bleeding the state coffers. That the Maoist party doesn’t feel answerable over this issue, however, doesn’t mean that we should stop asking questions or stop pressing them for accountability. It’s after all tax-payers’ money that has been misappropriated and the Maoist party must be held to account for every rupee that they drew illegally from the state. We ask Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to publicly explain why their party illegally drew that money and how it was spent. We also wish to draw the attention of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to the need for starting investigations immediately. from Editorial republica