A remote and rural village in Jumla district in this file photo. Photo: Dhan Bahadur Budha/ Republica
One of the heartlands of the Maoist insurgency remains neglected though the former insurgents are in power
JUMLA, Feb 16: The then Maoist insurgents used to sing songs for Jumla and the locals back then. Songs like ~I'gau gau bata utha, basti basti baata utha' ~I(rise and get ready to change the face of the nation), a thrilling song by Raamesh, used to resonate in the villages and towns of this small district when the Maoists were waging a war against the government in the name of the people and the nation. The war that began in 1996 ended in 2006 with the insurgents and the government signing the comprehensive peace accord vowing to work for change together. Many things have changed since then and there are local governments in all seven provinces. Jumla, however, remains neglected, according to the people there.
"Even though it was used as a prime zone to build strategies for the Maoist insurgency and people here were emotionally driven, the Maoist leaders have completely neglected after rising to power," said a local of Jumla, Arjun Budha. "It shows that they have forgotten their connection with this place," he lamented.
After the peace process began, many people from Jumla left for the cities. While the process of quitting villages for better life never ended, hardly anyone went back to the place. Malithata, Ghademahadev, Raralihi, Kudari and Timsi VDCs where "the Maoists exploited the innocent people to garner support for their war" now come under Tila and Tatopani rural municipalities. And the locals state that development is snail-paced even after the arrival of the local government.
"Back then, the Maoist leaders would do anything to impress the innocent people. By hook or crook, they drew the people's support, but now the leaders hardly remember all that," said Budha. "Even now you can see many houses, the walls here that reflect the slogans and paintings of the war time. They call it glorious, but do they really mean it?" he questions.
The locals are particularly unhappy as there are no proper roads in the villages even today. They have no easy access to hospitals, schools, banks and other facilities. Drinking water continues to be one of the most crucial issues. "Most of the areas in Jumla are still considered very remote in terms of facilities. People are still dying as there are no doctors available on time. Medicines, even those which are given for free do not make their way in Jumla. We are quite neglected," Budha stated.
According to Budha, the situation is actually worse than the war time in terms of discipline. When the rebels governed the land, there was a ban on liquor. Similarly, there was no caste-based discrimination. Civic duties were imposed. "With the end of the war, all this ended. And now neither is there the fear of the government nor that of the rebels. You can find liquor at any shop and discipline is long-dead," Budha read.
As per the records, a total of 76 people died from Jumla alone during the war.