Nepal Moaist Movement

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http://www.saag.org/papers3/paper277.html, no date given

 

THE MAOISTS OF NEPAL: Three perspectives  

by B. Raman

"Ultimately, we will have to fight with the Indian army. That is the situation. Therefore, we have to take into account the Indian army.  When the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing.  But we are not afraid of the Indian Army."---Prachanda, leader of the Maoists of Nepal, in an interview to a Maoist journalist of Latin America

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The Maoists of Nepal see their armed struggle, based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, from three perspectives---the international, the Nepalese and the Indian.

While analysing the international situation, they admit that the proletarian movement all over the world has suffered a set-back, which, however, they consider as temporary, and that China, the birth place of Maoism, has been under the control of a counter-revolutionary group since the death of Mao.  They attribute the set-back suffered by the international proletarian movement to international revisionism, modern revisionism, revisionism in China and Russian revisionism.

They are, at the same time, confident that the world would see in the medium term a revival of revolutionary fervour.  According to them, the Shining Path guerillas of Peru sowed the seeds of this revival and, though they have suffered a set-back at the hands of the rightist opportunists, the spark of the revolutionary fire has since spread to Nepal and India from where it would set off a new prairie fire.

To quote Prachanda, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): "Objectively, there is a dialectical relationship between the People's War in Nepal and the whole international situation and movement.  And what we think, and I think, is that a new wave of revolution, world revolution is beginning, because imperialism is facing a great crisis.  Some people are saying that economically and culturally imperialism is in deeper crisis than before the Second World War.  There are so many symptoms of radical change that the people's movements are seeing around the world.  And from an economic, cultural and political basis, we see that a new wave of world revolution is beginning.  This is a fact.  We have to grasp this question because just like Mao said, there will be 50 to 100 years of great turmoil and great transformation.  From a practical point of view, the People's War in Nepal is contributing to making and accelerating this new wave of revolution.  And it is contributing to the organization of the international communist movement on a Maoist basis."

They attribute the success so far achieved by them in Nepal to the correct lessons drawn by them by studying the experiences of the Maoist movements in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Iran, Turkey and Peru.

Prachanda describes the influence of the international proletariat on their movement as follows: " In the whole process of this final preparation...there was consistent international involvement. First and foremost, there was the RIM Committee (Revolutionary Internationalist Movement).  There was important ideological and political exchange.  From the RIM Committee, we got the experience of the PCP (Communist Party of Peru), the two-line struggle there, and also the experience in Turkey, the experience in Iran, and the experience in the Philippines.  We learned from the experience in Bangladesh and from some experience in Sri Lanka.  And there was a South Asian conference that we participated in.  At the same time, we were also having direct and continuous debate with the Indian communists, mainly the People's War (PW) and Maoist Communist Center (MCC) groups.  And this helped in one way or another. It helped us to understand the whole process of People's War.

"Therefore, what I want to say here is that one of the specific things about our People's War, the initiation of our People's War, is that there was international involvement right from the beginning.  Right from the time of preparation, up to the time of initiation, and after the initiation, there was international involvement. Help, debate and discussion was there.  It was a big benefit for us.  It was a big help for the Nepalese masses. Theoretically we are clear, and every time we insist, that the Nepalese revolution is part of the world revolution and the Nepalese people's army is a detachment of the whole international proletarian army.  This is clear.  But during preparation for the initiation and after the initiation we came to understand this, not only in a theoretical sense, but came to see the practical implications of this proletarian internationalism, what practical role it played.  We made the point to the RIM Committee that when the People's War in Nepal faces setbacks, then it will not only be a question for the CPN (Maoist), but will directly be a question for the RIM as a whole.

"People's War, Maoist Communist Center and others in the revolutionary struggle in India have been involved in this process in one way or another.  We understood right from the beginning that we should try to involve more and more sections of revolutionary masses in the process of our initiation.  Therefore, beforehand, we made some investigation of Bihar in India. We went to Andhra Pradesh to look at the struggle there and we tried to understand the practical situation and practical problems of armed struggle."

From the Nepalese perspective, they attribute their initial concentration on Western Nepal like the Rolpa and Rukum districts and the success achieved by them in building up revolutionary bases there to the following reasons:

* It is a remote mountainous area with poor communications where the control of the Karhmandu-based Government is the weakest.  It is ideal terrain for a revolutionary movement.

* The influence of the Hindu religion is also the weakest in that area.  The strong Hindu influence in other areas of Nepal acts as an obstacle to the spread of the revolutionary fervour.

* In Western Nepal, the people mostly belong to the Mongolian ethnic groups, which are free from the upper caste chauvinism of the Hindu-dominant areas and the feudal influences of the Terai and other areas.  The people of Mongolian origin have generally been more receptive to Marxist ideas than people of non-Mongolian origin.  Moreover, historically, they have made very good fighters.

At the same time, the Maoists realised that if they focussed only on building their bases in West Nepal and did not start operating in other parts of Nepal simultaneously, the security forces would easily be able to encircle and crush them.  Therefore, while concentrating their initial efforts in the West, they simultaneously launched their armed struggle in other parts in order to force the police to disperse their strength all over the rural areas.

They see the success of their armed struggle as having to pass through the following three stages:

* The armed struggle against the Nepalese police, which they claim to have already defeated and de-moralised.  They claim to be confident that the Nepalese Police is no longer in a position to counter them effectively.

* The armed struggle against the Royal Nepal Army which, according to them, is yet to start because the Army, which is directly under the King's control, is fighting shy of a confrontation with the Maoists.  Its role till now has been confined to helping the police in defusing improvised explosive devices. It has not undertaken any search and destroy or other counter-insurgency techniques.  The Maoists do not want to take the initiative in attacking the army.  Instead, they would prefer that the army comes into the rural/interior areas to attack them so that they could confront and defeat it.

* The armed struggle against the Indian army.  The Maoists apprehend or even foresee that when they ultimately proclaim the establishment of a People's Republic of Nepal either in the areas presently under their control or in the whole of Nepal, if and when they capture Kathmandu, India might not be a silent spectator of their success and that its Army might intervene to crush the Maoists.  They proclaim themselves as confident of being able to take on the Indian Army, with the back-up support of the Maoists of India in general and of Bihar in particular.  At the same time, they have been discussing how to confront the Indian army if it intervenes to crush the Maoist revolution in Nepal.

Prachanda says:

* "We decided that we should initiate People's War from different parts of the country.  We should centralize in mainly three areas-East, Middle, West-and the capital.  Cities should also be another point, not for armed clashes, but for propaganda and such things.  And one other area where we should concentrate work is in India, because more than seven million Nepalese live in India.  Therefore India should be the other point where we should make efforts to resist the ruling classes. "

* "Ultimately, we will have to fight with the Indian army.  That is the situation.  Therefore, we have to take into account the Indian army.  When the Indian army comes in with thousands and thousands of soldiers, it will be a very big thing.  But we are not afraid of the Indian Army because, in one way, it will be a very good thing.  They will give us lots of guns. And lots of people will fight them.  This will be a national war.  And it will be a very big thing.  They will have many difficulties intervening.  It will not be so easy for them.  But if they stupidly dare...they will dare, they will be compelled.  They will do that stupidity.  We have to prepare for that.  And for that reason we are saying we will also need a particular international situation.  And for us this has to do mainly with India, Indian expansionism. When there is an unstable situation in India and a strong mass base there in support of People's War in Nepal and there are contradictions within the Indian ruling class-at that point we can seize, we can establish and declare that we have base areas, that we have a government." 

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical studies, Chennai. E-Mail: corde@vsnl.com )

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Why socialism in the third world.  They are the only group that represents the peasants.  The democratic parties representing the industrialist and merchant in their legislation do many things that antagonize the peasants and workers.  Only socialist parties are willing to redistribute power and wealth. 

 

Yahoo News, 5/27/6

Meet the Rebels

A personal encounter with Nepal's Maoist rebels is a 'show' of force in more ways than one.

By Kevin Sites, Thu May 18, 7:29 PM ET

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CHAINPUR, Nepal - They are just flashes of green as we drive past them: members of the Royal Nepalese Army in their jungle camouflage, out for their morning run.  "Those are the ones we are fighting," says one of the men in our spotless gold Land Cruiser. The others laugh. 

It's 6:30 a.m. and my translator, Dinesh Wagle, and I are riding with an official in the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), his assistant and a couple of cadres. We have an appointment, a promise really, to see soldiers from the party's People's Liberation Army, a force estimated to be 20,000 strong, which has waged a 10-year war against the royal government of Nepal.

It's a war in which there have been numerous human rights abuses on both sides, a war that has taken the lives of as many as 13,000 people.  But now there is a cease-fire, in the aftermath of the pro-democracy "people's movement" in which nearly two dozen Nepalis were killed and hundreds wounded in clashes with the police while protesting the rule of King Gyanendra.  The Maoists have joined a seven-party alliance in the hopes, they say, of permanently curtailing the powers of the king and creating a multi-party democracy.  That has made this meeting a difficult one to arrange. The Maoists have been active partners in the alliance and want to flex their political muscle now, not their military might.

We negotiated with Sharad Singh-Bhandari, the party's Western Region Secretary, for two days before we finally received a call in the evening saying to be ready at 6 a.m. the next morning.  We drive for an hour and a half, then stop in a small village where Singh-Bhandari meets his military counterpart, the 7th Division Commander, a man in a long-sleeved white T-shirt who goes by the party name of "Prajjwal." Both Singh-Bhandari and Prajjwal are just 30 years old.  Dinesh and I sit in a tiny shack by the side of the road, eating spicy noodles and sipping tea while the two go off to make contact with their commanders in the field. The noodle shop plays an upbeat and catchy revolutionary song on a boom box. There are lots of other young men milling around carrying backpacks.

"They're Maoists," one shopkeeper tells us. "They've come in from the field and are heading home for a while."  After an hour, the two return and we get into the Land Cruiser again and drive another half-hour. We stop at another village where we're swarmed by school children wearing light blue shirts. The sight of a tall Westerner with cameras slung over his shoulders intrigues them. I snap their pictures and show them the digital display on the back. They giggle uncontrollably.  We're ushered into yet another roadside restaurant, where we sip more tea and wait. After another half-hour we get back into the vehicle, this time backtracking a bit until we meet a motorcycle rider. We follow him off the main road and onto a dirt path leading to the edge of the tree line at the base of the nearby foothills. We park in a large grassy opening on the grounds of a rural elementary school in the village of Chainpur.  Within minutes of our arrival, young men and women, many of them teenagers, begin pouring out of the woods from several different directions.   Some are in light green camouflage and strung with dark-blue magazine pouches. Others are in T-shirts and jeans with bandannas tied around their heads. They carry a mix of aging, British-designed Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles and World War II era, top-loading Bren light machine guns. But many don't have any weapons at all.

Their commander, who calls himself Sagat, is 33. He wears thick glasses and a cap emblazoned with the communist red star. He says the soldiers are members of the Lokesh Memorial Brigade, which is normally about 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers, but is currently only a fourth that size. Many of them have rotated home for a few weeks off during the current cease-fire.  "We haven't been engaged in any military activities," he says, "but we've been busy publicizing the policy of the party."  He says the women fighters are as good as the men, and that so many have joined the Maoists because they see an opportunity to fight for their rights as women.  

Within the group I see a girl who looks to be only in her early teens. She is tiny and looks innocent, but carries a compact machine gun over her shoulder.  She calls herself Janaki and says that she is 16 years old. She has been with the rebels for one year. When I ask her why she joined she gives a robotic response repeated by many of the other rebels. 

"Because I couldn't tolerate the oppression of my people any longer," she says.

"Are you ever afraid?" I ask her.

"No, I'm not afraid," she replies, in a soft voice.

But when I press her on the issue, she can no longer even find that soft voice. She just stares ahead, unsure, certainly uncomfortable with the attention we are focusing on her. She can find no other words.

Another rebel who says his name is Rajeev Thapa looks almost as young, but says he's 19 years old. He wears a sleeveless blue T-shirt and is slight, but has the bearing of someone sure of himself and his weapon. He says he's also been with the Maoists for a year, and that he joined to liberate the country.

"I heard too many stories about people being beaten, raped and killed by the army," he says. "So I had to do something."

At this point, it's beginning to dawn on me that this entire group of rebels is here for no other purpose than as a show for myself and Dinesh, who is a journalist for Kantipur, Nepal's largest newspaper.

I've encountered these situations before, covering both regular armies and insurgents, but each time it makes me uncomfortable.  I had asked for this meeting and there is a need, I know, to put a face on these rebels, to show them as something other than just a name to which acts, both bad and good, are attributed. And they are, after all, a key factor in the future outcome of Nepal's nascent democratic movement.  But I had thought, perhaps naively, that we might see them in their natural environment in the bush, rather than this grassy schoolyard. I want to see them doing whatever rebels do during a cease-fire: cleaning their weapons, reading "Das Kapital," playing football, flirting with the female comrades.

I am glad to see them with my own eyes, to know they are real. But to see them assembled solely for our cameras makes it somehow less authentic, despite the cold metal of their weapons, the very real smell of their campfires and the palpable intensity of their purpose.  They gather under a larger tree and begin a series of awkward drills, specifically so that I may see them in action. Commander Sagat looks at a cheat sheet written in pen on his hand, then barks orders to the rebels.   With each command, they hop to attention, then either stand, kneel or sit, pointing their weapons, or their hands, in the direction of an imaginary enemy. As a precise drilling unit, they're the equivalent of the Grateful Dead — not exactly tight. Their movements are hesitant and awkward, but determined.

Regardless, the 7th Division Commander, Prajjwal, says his forces have consistently defeated the Royal Nepalese Army and the Armed Police Force. He says, however, that his biggest concern has been American-trained Nepalese Ranger battalions that are better-equipped and more motivated than the others. He says fours years ago, during a battle in the Rolpa region, his forces captured three U.S. Army advisers during fighting there, but released them because, he says, the People's Liberation Army's fight isn't with America. His statement couldn't be independently verified, although the U.S. government has sent military aid and advisers to the Royal Nepalese Army.

"I was in the first line in an attack to capture an FM radio station in Tansen," she says. "It was guarded by an army barracks and one of the soldiers threw a grenade at me. I could see it coming and I moved back but pieces of shrapnel still hit my leg."

Sapana says four or five other rebels were also injured, but they made it back to their lines and were able to get treatment. She pulls up her fatigues and shows me the scar on her shin.

Another rebel, 29-year-old Bishan Dhami, says he's been with the Maoists four years and has seen combat nearly a dozen times.

I ask him if he's tired of the war. His answer is an immediate "no."

"Not until we defeat the monarchists, which we have labeled terrorists," he says.

That's a label associated with the Maoists as well. The U.S. State Department includes the Maoists on its "Country Reports on Terrorism" list, because, it says, of the rebels' policies of attacks on civilians, land confiscation and extortion.

At the end of the "drilling," the rebels make an exit as inconspicuous as their entrance, proceeding, weapons in hand, in single-file lines back into the woods. They'll wait there, say their commanders, until they're needed — either as a show of force, or, if peace talks fail, to actually fight again.

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