KATHMANDU: With pressure mounting to end integration stalemate, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has begun consulting colleagues from the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants), members of its Secretariat and Nepali Army officials to find a way to begin the process to integrate UCPN-Maoist former fighters into the Nepali Army.
Sources say the PM, who heads the Special Committee, is likely to call the panel’s meeting before leaving for Iran to attend 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit being on August 29.
The process to integrate 3,123 combatants into the Nepali Army was stalled on July 6, with ex-PLA terming the selection process a recruitment drive for the army. They have been demanding to recognise their age on citizen certificates and the academic degrees they procured since 2007.
It is learnt that the PM has realised that not consulting the Special Committee and its Secretariat to commence the selection work earlier was a mistake and is seriously considering to involve the Secretariat while selecting combatants. He met Special Committee Secretariat Coordinator Balanand Sharma and sought his advice to address combatants’ concerns about age and education.
Sharma told the PM that the age dispute could be resolved by considering only those combatants who turned 18 in May 2007 (UNMIN’s verification date). He also suggested that “respectable” integration could mean taking height, weight and chest measurements and medical test behind closed doors.
Sharma said he had suggested to the PM to conclude all residue tasks of integration, including selection and handing over the second instalment of the allowances to the combatants who took voluntary retirement, before Dashain.
PM Bhattarai, on the other hand, is mulling over amending the Army Regulations or issuing a special decree to form a Directorate General in the NA to integrate the ex-PLA. But SC member from NC, Ram Sharan Mahat, has warned the PM against doing so.