Here are points to be noted, Mr Prachanda. We know you are readying yourself for the next round of high level peace talks (Friday, July 21). Before that will you please read this news published in today’s Kathmandu Post? Artwork by Dewen via TKP
By Yuvraj Acharya
A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair, said Niccolo Machiavelli and warned his prince against seizing anyone’s property.
Maoist rebels take their lessons not from the Italian political philosopher but directly from the little red book of Mao Tse-Dong. They have captured the property of the “bourgeoisie” and chased them away from their villages to create a “safe” base for the revolution. Most of these “bourgeoisie” in the villages are however cadres of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) with whom they jointly launched a crusade against the king.
Capturing property was easy. But returning it, to honor the 12-point agreement signed with the SPA, has been a daunting task. As hundreds of party cadres and common citizens complain of continued capture of their property, the heat has been turned on against the Maoist leadership, pushing it on to the defensive.
The 5th point of the 12-point understanding signed between the rebels and SPA vows to ensure the safe and dignified return of party cadres and the return of seized property.
Land and other properties of more than half a dozen central committee members of the Nepali Congress including Binaya Dhoj Chand, Khum Bahadur Khadka, Ananda Dhungana, Kul Bahadur Gurung and Maheshwor Prasad Singh remain under the control of gun-toting rebel cadres. Interestingly, NC General Secretary Kul Bahadur Gurung’s property in Dnabari village of Ilam district was captured after the 12-point understanding was reached. “When my two sisters argued with the Maoists that seizure of property was against the spirit of the 12-point understanding and demanded that the property be returned, they threaten to kill them,” said Gurung. The RPP office has received complaints from over 150 cadres about their property being captured by rebels. Even the CPN-UML has not been spared. Politburo member Amrit Bohara is among the central leaders in the UML whose property has been seized by Maoists.
Gopal Pahadi, leader of the NC, doubts that the rebels will willingly return seized property. “They haven’t yet demonstrated the goodwill for that,” he said.
But the rebels finally seem to have realized the cost of such plunder for the party’s image in the long run. Only this week they agreed to form a joint committee with the parties at the central level and replicate this at the district level if necessary to address the issue. The rebels also returned a portion of the seized property belonging to Chand on Tuesday. Coincidently, Chand represents the NC in the joint committee.
Dina Nath Sharma, who represents his party in the joint committee, said that the problem would be gradually solved. But he argued that it was hyped up. “We have repeatedly requested the party cadres to go to the villages and reclaim their property.” He even charged that Chand was making speeches against his party instead of going to his village to reclaim his property.
Sharma said his party was committed to creating an atmosphere for the safe and dignified return of displaced people and restoration of their property.
However, he also said that the Maoist cadres should get justice. “Most of our leaders have also lost their private property. But no one is talking about compensation for them,” he complained. “About 1,000 of our cadres lost their lives after we signed the 12-point pact. Will the family members of the dead receive one million rupees like others did during the people’s movement?”
And this one:
Ceasefire fails to relieve displaced
By Madhav Ghimire in the Post
BIRATNAGAR- Tularam Khadka, 96, has been telling his nephew Ishwor about his “last wish” to return to his ancestral home in Sankhuwasabha once before he dies. Ishwor, who is also the Eastern region coordinator of the displaced coordination committee, says he is not only unable to fulfill his aged uncle’s “last wish”, but also helpless to fulfill the desires of hundreds of families displaced by Maoist conflict around the eastern districts.
“None of the agreements and understandings so far reached between Maoist leaders and seven parties’ has been implemented at the grassroots level,” says Ishwor. Ishwor’s ancestral property at Akhibhui, Sankhuwasabha, was seized by Maoists some five years ago. Only recently, he had sent his son Yogendra to the village to learn about the conditions there.
“We will rather go back to the jungle than return the properties. We don’t know what’s happening at the center but we are not going to give back the properties,” is what Maoist cadres in the villages have been saying, according to Ishwor.
The problem is not limited to the Khadka family alone. There are more than 10,000 displaced people scattered around eastern districts, who share similar grievances. Very few people have been able to return to their villages after the ceasefire.
“Even today Maoist cadres are the ones controlling the villages. Travel restrictions, land taxes, forced labor, that the rebels had imposed are still intact,” according to victims.
Also, the much-hyped “open padlock” program of the Maoists, to return the displaced people back to their villages, has proved to be a failure in the eastern districts.
More than 400 displaced families of Surungkhimti-6, Taplejung, who were “invited” by the Maoists by announcing their program, have not returned home so far. “What’s the use of returning if we are not getting our property back,” said Manmaya Rai one of the victims from Surungkhimti.
Meanwhile reports from Salyan saying, even after the Maoist’s agreed with the government to return land and property to displaced people, the rebels are yet to honor the accord here in the district. According to our correspondent Biplab Maharjan , some three dozen families from rural areas of Salyan, displaced due to Maoist excesses, are still in the district headquarters, Dang, and Nepalgunj, among other places.
“Since December I visited my house several times, but I returned fruitless as it is being used by the Maoists,” said Dhan Bahadur from Marmaparikada. The Maoists displaced him during 1997 and they are using his house and land since 2001. “I have frequently urged the Maoists to return my property, but to no avail,” he added.
Maoists padlocked the house of Bir Bahadur Dagi from Kavra Rambazaar after he joined the Nepal Police. Dagi a Maoist cadre had surrendered to local administration prior to joining the police, said his father-in-law Chandra Lal Paudel.
Likewise, the rebels are yet to return the land and property of Dor Bahadur Thapa, according to Paudel. Similarly, Hari Prashad Shrestha and Mahendra Shrestha of Tribeni VDC, all displaced some four years ago and staying in Dang, are yet to recover their property.
Following the government-Maoist agreement, most of the displaced people often visit their home villages but they return unsuccessful having no arrangement to stay and survive there.