Verification Conundrum: Inside Story of Why Maoists Stopped the Process

After stalling the verification process for their combatants for weeks the Maoists have finally agreed to resume it, but when it will actually resume remains uncertain still.

By Ameet Dhakal
[There might be rift between the Badal-Kiran and Prachanda-Baburam factions in the Maoist Party].

The on again off again verification of Maoist combatants is only a prelude to a much complicated process that will test the resolve of the government, the Maoists, the Nepali Army and even the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) in the days to come.

Why the Maoists refused to start verification at the second cantonment site in Sindhuli offers a small window on this unfolding complexity.

Part of the problem is the Maoists’ own doing. They sent “many”- it’s still not clear exactly how many – non-combatants into the cantonments. There are a number of reasons why they did that. First, they wanted to keep a good many of their combatants, who are among the cream of their cadres, outside the cantonments, but at the same time they also wanted enough “combatants” inside. Large numbers inside the cantonments meant a stronger political message and more money.

But little did they think about the trouble they would land in during rigorous verification by the UN. Perhaps they had calculated that they would somehow get around it. That’s why they agreed to discharge any combatants born after May 25, 1988 (which makes them minors) or who joined the Maoist army after May 25, 2006 (the day the peace agreement was signed). Any combatant who registered in the first phase but failed to show up during second phase verification would also automatically disqualify.

When the UN completed the verification in the Ilam cantonments, 1,300 plus out of the 3,200 combatants were disqualified on the ground that they were either late recruits or minors or didn’t show up for the verification interview.

The Maoists received a jolt when the UN verification team said it would not accept any documentary evidence (such as school certificates and citizenship certificates since that’s not standard UN procedure) to ascertain the age of the combatants. Our reporters in the field tell us that a majority of these combatants carried citizenship certificates- many of them freshly obtained- as authoritative evidence of their age.

When the UN completed the verification in the Ilam cantonments, 1,300 plus out of the 3,200 combatants were disqualified on the ground that they were either late recruits or minors or didn’t show up for the verification interview.

The timing of this verification could not have been worse for the Maoist leadership. The party is holding a plenum in early August. “There is already a lot of internal dynamics going on in the Maoist party,” said a senior NC leader, referring to the supposed rift between the Badal-Kiran and Prachanda-Baburam factions. One argument is that Prachanda wanted to stall the verification process for the time being to firewall himself against potential criticism at the plenum. That’s why verification at Sindhuli is unlikely to begin (or at any rate be completed) until the plenum is over.

But Maoist second-in-command, Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai, dismissed the rift within the party theory as “nonsense” and argued that the party was concerned about more substantive issues than just the disqualified numbers. “Where are the issues of state security reform and the reform of the Nepali Army today?” he asked, adding, “It seems as if everyone has happily forgotten the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the promise to restructure the state.”

The Maoists are equally worried-and rightly so- about the future of both the combatants who qualify and those who fail to qualify during the verification process.

The tripartite arms management treaty signed by the UN, the government and the Maoists says that the disqualified combatants will be discharged “immediately”. But the Maoists and the government are yet to discuss about and agree on compensation for these disqualified combatants and their reintegration back into society. Understandably, the Maoists don’t want them to go back to society empty-handed just before the constituent assembly election. “We are cognizant of the political and social ramifications should these former combatants go back to society with feelings of strong resentment,” said the NC leader. Fortunately, this problem seems to have been resolved for the time being as, according to Dr Bhattarai, Prachanda and UNMIN chief Ian Martin agreed on Wednesday that the disqualified combatants will not be discharged before verification is completed in all the cantonments. “UNMIN has also agreed to revisit specific cases of disqualification,” said Bhattarai.

But what about the long term policy for discharge of disqualified combatants and integration of the qualified ones into the national army?

This is where the Maoists seem to be most concerned and least confident. “The army is still backing the king and is speaking against us publicly,” said Bhattarai.

The army is equally-unfortunately, even increasingly – distrustful of the Maoists. Talk to senior army officials and most of them are convinced that the Maoists don’t want the CA poll and would eventually betray the political parties.

Neither the army nor the Maoists have worked to address such misgivings about each other. “The government should try to reintegrate the Maoist combatants in society instead of integrating them into the national army,” said a senior Nepali Army general, preferring to remain unnamed. Perhaps this only indicates the enormous challenge that lies ahead in the verification and integration process.


5 responses to “Verification Conundrum: Inside Story of Why Maoists Stopped the Process”

  1. hope Avatar

    As far as the idea of “integrating” maoist army into Nepal army I strongly oppose. As the latter is national army without any political affiliation and aspiration( as we take king as obselete power).On the other hand Maoists guerillas were indoctrinated to certain principle and without any proper educational background these two are just like two banks of river . And rightly said , there should not be any effort to merge them forcefully without taking the Army into consideration. If there is some concerns and doubts, seems there are plenty, they should refrain from this odd marriage. As there are huge differences of opinion and even SPAs are not confident enough with the maoists how can an Army personnnel would take them as an ally?? Maoists have not shown anything which would prove their commitment and responsibility towards Nepali people and Nepali nation. People still take them as an criminal outfit with combatants ready to wage war against a country and it’s people once it’s demands are not met or once their vicious agenda fulfills. In these circumstances accomodate maoists into Army would be a suicidal step with dire consequences. When Army get’s into a conflict of their own it will work as a catalyst for the seperatists movement going on in various parts of the country.The current lawlessnes would quadruple if the only body which has yet to involve itself in the conflict directly be dragged in by SPAMs in the name of integration!!

  2. sad&depressed Avatar

    these is no inside story. the maoist tried once more to undermine everyone and everything else. prachanda is an ignorant politicain without any concrete vision of the future. its quite clear that nothing is planned among the maoist. they are acting on impuse and depending of fear to carry out their maddness, with myopic vision. if you want to count the hardcore combatents count members of YCL. everyone knows who they are. nothing has really changed in nepal. just by changing the names, songs etc nothing concrete is being changed. change how you thing. and be more aware of the maoist ppl.

  3. Kirat Avatar

    Great article!

    I guess the two pressing issues are

    a. What to do with the disqualified combatants.

    b. What to do with the qualified combatants.

    The disqualified combatants must be thoroughly rehabilitated before they re-enter society. They must be given some sort of economic opportunity to look after themselves too.

    Re.; the qualified combatants. Integrating them within the present RNA set up (let’s get real the state Army is still pro-king than neutral or pro democratic govt.) is looking extremely unlikely and impractical. Can it be done? Yes, but only if the RNA is willing to take the trouble for the good of the nation. The Maoist combatants would have to be thoroughly re-trained and re-oriented for a successful integration into the RNA. Is the RNA willing to take the trouble and be sincere in it’s efforts? Highly unlikely.

    So what are the other alternatives that the Maoist leadership and combatants would be willing to accept. Dunno-but maybe there is an amicable compromise.

    But one thing is clear. Until the above two issues are dealt with properly expect more trouble to brew and flare.

    By the way Bhattarai asks a pertinent question : What reform has taken place within the RNA to make it a professional unit loyal to the democratic govt. (when we get one) as opposed to a Royal Army full of Royal relatives and loyal to the palace?

  4. Dewaz Avatar

    … Maoist cannot join the RNA.. Not yet .. but i dont think that is the main problem .. the problem greater than that is maoist combats that have started to have doubt of their leaders .. They are starting to come out of their camps.. I am not just talking about the ones revolting in Terai .. But others .. like the ones interviewed in Kantipur Television who say .. they will about 1000 combats leaving the camps and start new revolt .. and control YCL also they said..

    Note: All YCL are not combats.. a quarter of them maybe ..

  5. Bhudai Pundit Avatar
    Bhudai Pundit

    Blah Blah Blah the same old story coming out of the Maoist camps – pathetic excuses and empty rethoric. It’s like Prachanda saying all the weapons were washed away in the river. Do they think anyone acutally believes a word they say?

    “The disqualified combatants must be thoroughly rehabilitated before they re-enter society. They must be given some sort of economic opportunity to look after themselves too.”

    The problem is that even if the government spends money to teach these people skills what are they going to do with it? The state of the economy is bleak and unemployment is rampant. If anything these folks will be spurred even more by Maoist ideology.

    About the qualified combatants being integrated into the NA. It is possible provided there is strong political backing and support for such a feat. If the political leadership is strong they should have the power to make the NA bend over backwards. It’s not just about the NA unwilling to work for the nation. It’s a sensitive issue and it needs to be taken care cautiously. I think the NA is currently demoralized and on its knee. It sure would be a good time for the political leaders to assert themslves and get conformation on the NA’s loyalty.

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