ROLPA, March 11: Thabang of Rolpa has a special relationship with the former Maoist guerrillas and the armed insurgency. It was here, where the Maoist guerrilla prepared strategies, planned attacks, trained their armies, among others during the insurgency. Over the years, the security condition in the region deteriorated along with the destruction of infrastructure and loss of its human resources. It lost touch with the state, and the atmosphere became so much difficult that they had no choice but to support the cause, locals say.
“The armed conflict destroyed our entire development infrastructure and paralyzed our economic development over the decades,” said Purna KC, mayor of Rolpa Municipality. “Destruction of the infrastructure and displacement of youths and able human resources from the region pushed us years back in terms of development.”
The Maoist rebels entered mainstream politics in 2006. With the end of the armed conflict, the Maoist leaders vowed to transform the nation while entering politics. Thabang rejoiced. Its residents thought that these leaders would prioritize the development of their land over the rest of the country. But nothing like that happened. Disappointed by the Maoist leaders and their inaction in helping Thabang to get back on its feet, its residents along with people from other parts of the district, even boycotted the elections. Responding to media queries for not participating in elections, some said that it was their way of protest and said that they felt of doing wrong in supporting the Maoist guerrillas cause back then.
However, the above sentiments are gradually changing as development activities are picking up the pace in Thabang. KC claims that locals are elated with the present pace of development activities in the area. “It is not just Thabang, the entire Rolpa is a different place now. Yes, change comes, though it takes time.”
Road networks, communication, power, internet, and several modern facilities have made their way to even remote villages of the district. Shahid Marg has connected Dang, Ghartigaun, and Thabang. This has facilitated the operation of small to big vehicles on the road round the clock.
“There are other smaller roads too. But Shahid Marg has turned to be our lifeline. When mobility is easy, development comes easy,” KC noted. “On the other hand, there is a perfect road from Bhalubang to Libang, the district headquarters.”
KC stated that roads are seen busy with good carriers transporting goods from one place to another, public buses transporting passengers from one place to another. Along with that more and more private vehicles are seen plying on Rolpa roads. All this has made Rolpa a happening place.
“Some years back, Rolpa was not like this. It was an isolated region where people had to walk for many days to reach from one place to another. Compared to that, with the development of the road network, it has become accessible for its residents and visitors.”
Most people in the district are familiar with mobile devices and the internet. Due to the availability of solar power, using those services has been made possible. Many families have their family members working in foreign countries and as such remittance has improved their financial condition, KC added.
“We did not have toilets earlier. People were either not aware or did not have the resources to care about sanitation, health, and hygiene issues. But now, we are learning their importance and gradually adopting them in our daily lives,” said KC.
Until before the local election, people in Rolpa would not trust the government. KC says most of them had taken part in the election half-heartedly. “But now people are happy as we are trying our best to meet their aspirations. There are still many more things to do, but we are determined,” said KC.
According to KC, the biggest need of Rolpa is generating employment opportunities. Until and unless employment opportunities are generated and locals are provided with means to earn a decent living at their home, development cannot come in a real sense, he said.
“In physical terms, yes the progress is remarkable. But if we talk about occupations and lifestyle, we have many miles to go. We have to strive to reach there now,” KC stated.
He also talked about retaining original structures of Rolpa while building new infrastructures. If new houses are built in modern style, the originality of Rolpa will disappear, we are aware of that, KC said.
Meanwhile, Barman Budha, a former lawmaker and local of Thabang stated that the local representatives have given a new life to the district. “Local election was a great thing. And it was good that people welcomed it. Now, there are local representatives with whom people share their grievances,” Budha said. “People’s movement and development in Rolpa have become noticeable. During the conflict, it was hard to believe that it would be so someday.”
According to him, the people of Rolpa are very much for peace. They don’t want any other conflicts in the country. “Since we saw the bloodshed very closely, we fear armed-conflicts. We wish the country to tread on the path of peace and development. For this, all dissatisfied groups should think wisely,” he said.
A local human rights activist Khem Budha also stressed on the need for peace and development to alleviate the living standard of the people while referring to the recent agreement between CK Raut and the government.
According to Khem, it is the high time for the local government of Rolpa and other parts of the country to concentrate on the development of agriculture, production, roads, education, and the health sectors. “These are development indicators and we should focus on developing them. Along with that, we should be wise and create a peaceful and happy society. That is the essence,” he said.