Maoist People’s War
How would one look back to 1996, the year when CPN (Maoist) (now fragmented into multiple splinter groups), launched insurgency against the state? The Maoist ‘People’s War’ started with a great promise of sweeping socio-economic transformation from Rolpa, with few hundred fighters, spread across the country. In less than ten years, they were wrecking violence across the country, taking lives of 17,000 people and causing enforced disappearance of hundreds of others. Since very little of those promises have been fulfilled, many Maoists as well as non-Maoists have started to question the rationale of the armed insurgency that stalled Nepal’s development process and stagnated its economy. Little has improved in the lives of the poor and working class in whose names Pushpa Kamal Dahal led the insurgency. A number of Maoist supporters and fighters today see the war as being used only as a tool by a few senior leaders to bag top posts and to become millionaire overnight. This perception is shared among general public as well. This must be the reason why when various Maoist factions commemorated 22nd anniversary of the insurgency on Sunday, there was little enthusiasm in the air.
The victims of Maoist insurgency marked it as the ‘Black Day’ to vent their frustration against the slow pace of transitional justice process. The Conflict Victims National Society staged an hour-long sit-in near the southern gate of Singha Durbar. Their concerns are genuine. Even after the war formally ended in 2006 along with signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the then rebel Maoists and the government with promise of setting up transitional justice bodies within six months of the accord, it took nine years to form the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission for the Investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP). After two years of TRC and CIEDP, little has been done to serve the justice to the victims’ families. The Maoist party itself is perceived to be reluctant to expedite transitional justice process.
Downsides aside, Maoist people’s war had set the stage for a federal democratic republic.
However, the lack of political will among key stakeholders of peace process to institutionalize these achievements and to lead the country to stability and economic prosperity have eroded their credibility. The genuine concerns of the poor and the downtrodden still remain unaddressed, giving space for radical factions led by Netra Bikram Chand and Mohan Baidya to push for yet another ‘revolution.’
Needless to say, this will be another disaster for the country. When political parties sell big hopes and do virtually nothing to materialize those hopes, people feel alienated and might take extreme measures to vent their frustrations. Maoist party has led the
government thrice after the peace process and Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the prime minister today. Thus as a leader of mainstream Maoist party and the PM, Dahal should waste no opportunity to work to institutionalize the changes his party ushered in and to provide justice to conflict victims. Unless he and his party is seen to work to make the real difference in lives of the common people and heal wounds inflicted by the war, there is real risk of Maoist insurgency being seen as complete waste and a betrayal.