Ex-combatants regret taking up arms for Maoist cause

November 21, 2018 08:05 AM Devendra Basnet


DANG, Nov 21: In 2001, Yogendra KC of Ramechhap joined the then Maoist insurrection with a strong determination to bring revolution and overthrow the state. He was a Maoist platoon commander and put his life on the line for the sake of so-called change.

Seventeen years later, KC is living a totally different life. He was seen at a busy crossroads in Ghorahi, Dang district on Tuesday. With him was a small vendor’s cart stacked with sweets.

“I set out to change the country but only ruined myself. Now, my mission is to reinvent myself as a sweets vendor.”

Although a platoon commander for the Maoists, KC was hesitant to talk about those days. He simply said, “I’d prefer not to recall.”

According to him, he joined the armed insurrection as he felt threatened by the state’s side that frequently accused him of being a Maoist. His motto became ‘death or freedom’ and he was caught up in many of the big engagements, including at Khara of Rukum.

“During one encounter in Dalsingh, which is on the border between Rukum and Rolpa, I nearly got killed. A difference of two seconds saved my life and I was hit by shrapnel in the leg. It still aches and gives me much trouble,” said KC. 

Only after the peace process did he realize that his big dreams for himself and the country were futile. The Maoist leaders agreed to get their former combatants integrated into the Nepal Army on basis of educational qualifications, and KC had little schooling.

“How reasonable was it to stipulate educational qualifications when the Maoists were the ones to prevent us from going to school? They said the education system was just government propaganda. The Maoists laid waste to our dreams after the peace process,” he said venting ire.

KC chose rehabilitation instead of a lowly position in the army. All he got for his sacrifices was a check for Rs 500,000. 

Khem Prasad Budhamagar of Thabang-3, Rolpa is also not happy. His heart is full of regret for taking up arms against the state. At the time, he was just 10. 

“We imagined a different world when we joined the Maoists. That decision has taken its toll. We are now struggling just to survive,” said Budhamagar. He was denied integration into the army because he was underage. 

These are representative cases. Many former Maoist combatants in Dang, Rukum and Rolpa are struggling just to get by. They expressed regret stating that what they fought for never materialized. Looking back, they said it was all hallow promises to get them to sacrifice their lives for their leaders’ personal gain.

 


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