KATHMANDU: Although the Nepali Army was blamed for Maoist fighters’ integration process failing to take off, it has now come to the fore that Maoists’ new conditions played a crucial role in stalling the process.
Sources confirmed that the Maoists have put forth fresh conditions demanding that PLA fighters’ latest academic qualifications and their ages based on their newly acquired citizenship cards, instead of UNMIN-verified dates of birth, be taken into consideration while integrating them into the army.
The Maoist side had put forth the demands at the meetings of a selection committee formed to determine the eligibility of the fighters. The six-member committee is headed by Acting Chair of Public Service Commission Kayo Devi Yami, who is elder sister of Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s wife Hisila Yami.
Maoists’ new demands contradict the decision taken by the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist fighters). The SC decision was taken based on UNMIN-verified data with flexibility on age and academic qualifications. A source said Yami herself played a vital role from behind the curtains to push for fresh demands, which have put committee members at odds, especially NA officers in the committee are said to be unhappy with fresh conditions. “We have written to the Ministry of Defence seeking clarity on the issue,” said the source.
The demands, however, are not new as such. The Maoists in the past had tried to impose these conditions but had later given up following reluctance from non-Maoist parties to oblige.
A total of 3,123 Maoist fighters are waiting to join the national army and most of them have acquired higher degrees and new citizenship cards, with ages less than they had told UNMIN officials during the verification five years ago.
If the Maoist demands are accepted, the fighters can snatch higher posts and longer service term in the army. Several fighters who held senior positions in the Maoist army had qualification up to SLC only when UNMIN carried out the verification.
NA Spokesperson Brig Gen Ramindra Chhetri confirmed that NA had written to MoD seeking clarity on some issues, including age and academic qualifications of to-be-integrated fighters. “We are waiting for a response from MoD,” Chhetri told THT.
Chhetri added that NA was ready with all the preparations and that integration would start, may be by next week, once NA got the response.
Balananda Sharma, Coordinator of the Secretariat under the Special Committee, however, suggested that the best way at this juncture was to follow the Special Committee decision. “If Maoists’ fresh demands are to be considered, there will be more obstacles in the integration process,” Sharma told THT.