KATHMANDU, April 17: The number of the Maoist combatants opting for voluntary retirement is going up every day. With one more day remaining for the combatants to choose voluntary retirement, the number of the ex-Maoist fighters opting out of military life has reached 5,480.
According to Balananda Sharma, coordinator of the secretariat of the Special Committee, the integration number could come down to as low as 3,000 when the voluntary retirement process formally concludes in six cantonment on Tuesday.
He said the process is concluding only on Wednesday in the Kailali cantonment where 614 combatants chose voluntary retirement as of Monday. There are altogether 1,762 combatants in the cantonment.
"If the number of the combatants comes down to around 3,000, that will be reasonable. But the number will not come below 3,000," Sharma said.
Those who chose voluntary retirement left the cantonments with their paychecks, leaving behind 4,225 combatants in the cantonments.
In the meantime, commanders in Surkhet cantonment said they are in a dilemma over choosing between voluntary retirement and integration.
Our correspondent Kalendra Sejuwal quoting divisional commander Mahendra Bahadur Shahi of sixth division reported from Surkhet that majority of the commanders have made up their mind to choose voluntary retirement but they are still awaiting directive from the Maoist party. They have not filled voluntary retirement forms as of Monday.
"We had not joined the PLA just to have a job," Yet we will wait as long as it takes [to join the army] if rank harmonization is done in a dignified manner."
According to Shahi, around 45 commanders at the cantonment are in a wait-and-see mood.
Sixth division vice commander Padam Khadka said he has not yet decided between voluntary retirement and integration.
"If I get the post of major, I will choose integration. But If get a junior post then I will choose voluntary retirement," Khadka said.