Ex-Maoist combatants doing business

Published On: November 21, 2018 03:30 AM NPT By: Nagendra Upadhyaya

SURKHET, Nov 21: In 1998, Ramesh Paudel of Lekbesi Municipality-1 joined the 'People's Liberation Army (PLA)' formed by the then Maoist rebels at the tender age of 16. He shed his blood and sweat for the PLA in many battles against the state security forces by risking his life. He spent eight important years of his life chanting the slogan of 'death or emancipation', though he is hugely disappointed by the current situation of the country.After signing a peace accord with the government on November 21, 2006, the Maoists kept their PLA at seven division offices and 28 brigade offices across the country. Paudel became the commander of the Jeet Smriti Brigade established in Kholtepani. He knew that he will not be able to bring socialism after the end of the conflict but he always wanted to serve the country by becoming a soldier. Unfortunately, his dream could not materialize.

"I demanded a high-level post for which my educational qualification was not enough and I was not ready to accept lower posts," said Paudel, adding, "So, by choosing voluntary retirement, I decided to do my own business." His commander during the Maoist war, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi, is currently the chief minister of Karnali Province. Many who used to work under Paudel are now working at the local units. But Paudel runs a motorcycle spare parts shop at Birendranagar-6.

Interestingly, his wife Lila Mahara was an assistant commander of the brigade. She, too, was not selected for the integration between the PLA and the national army. "We had together received Rs 1.9 million through voluntary retirement," said Paudel, adding, "We started this business with the money." Later, they bought a house in Biratnagar with the money earned from the business.

Takka Bahadur Shahi (Ajiban) of Sarkegad Rural Municipality-5 of Humla runs a mobile phone shop in Birendranagar. He joined the Maoist war in 2002, when he was a ninth grader, and chose voluntary retirement in 2012. "I actually wanted to become an army man but could not become one due to my low qualification. Hence, I opted for voluntary retirement and do business instead," he said.

He was a Maoist platoon commander during the insurgency. He received Rs 500,000 after voluntary retirement and started a mobile shop with the amount. "I have kept myself away from politics and instead focused on my business," said Shahi, adding, "I make Rs 40,000 to 50,000 from this business on a monthly basis."

Manju Dhamala of Surkhet, Dashrathpur, joined the Maoist guerrillas at the age of 15. Dhamala who participated in the insurgency with the aim of ending inequality is now operating a beauty parlor in Birendranagar. She went underground in 2001 and received a bullet injury in the leg in 2004.

After numerous surgeries, she was finally able to walk. After voluntary retirement from the sixth division of the then Maoists, she went to Kathmandu to take beautician training and later opened her own parlor. "I started this business and I am doing quite well now," said Dhamala. Now, she saves more than Rs 30,000 a month from the beauty parlor.

There are so many former Maoist combatants who have chosen foreign employment or started their own business for a living, while many are still involved in politics.

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