KATHMANDU, June 27: With the Nepal Army set to start the integration process from next Sunday, the former People´s Liberation Army (PLA) has also geared up for the much-awaited integration of its members into the Nepal Army (NA).
According sources, the former Maoist army has started preparing a list of combatants to be recommended for senior ranks in the national army. PLA´ s former chief Nanda Kishor Pun himself is leading the homework and has prepared the list to be submitted to the general staff of the PLA.
Pun has proposed the name of division commander Yam Bahadur Adhikari for the post of colonel, the single highest post to be given to the Maoist combatants, sources told Republica. Also known as Pratiksha in the PLA, 39-year old Adhikari was recently the division commander of the First Division of the PLA stationed at Chulachuli. Ilam.
As per the understanding reached among the major political parties on April 15, the combatants will get one colonel and two lieutenant colonels in the army. Pun has recommended the names of division vice-commander Padam Bahadur Tamang aka Sanjeeb, 35, and Fourth Division vice-commander Basu Dev Ghimire aka Pawel, 24, for the post of lieutenant colonel.
Besides Adhikari, division commanders Dhan Bahadur Maski Magar, Suk Bahadur Roka Magar, Santa Kumar Darai, Tamang and Ghimire were in the race for the post of colonel in the national army.
The same source informed that Pun is presenting his proposal to this effect in a general staff meeting of the PLA to be held in presence of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai is expected to endorse the proposal of Pun.
In an all-party meeting on April 15, Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had floated the name of Division Commander Dhan Bahadur Maski Magar, who is among his trusted men in the PLA and currently leads PLA´s Third Division based in Shaktikhor, Chitwan, to lead the PLA men opting for integration.
But since he is just 35-year old, the NC and UML leaders had opposed his name. Chairman Dahal had then floated the name of Santu Darai, PLA´s Seventh Division based in Kailali, to the post of colonel. Darai, 45, once led Chairman Dahal´s security team and is the senior most division commanders in the PLA.
As there was debate over who should lead the PLA in the integration, Dahal has been delaying a decision on this issue, reportedly promising each of the commander separately that they would lead the PLA in the integration.
A proficient in certificate level, Adhikari came to limelight during the conflict time after he lead a day-time attack on army personnel at Krishna Bhir, Prithivi Highway in Dhading, his home district, in November 2004. He lost his wife during the insurgency. His elder brother is a NA man. Adhikari started his political career while he was a student at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campur, Kathmandu. He has also experience of having working in a hotel for a short period.
Similarly, Tamang hails from Kavre and is a senior commander and first general staff member of the PLA. A SLC graduate, Tamang lost his younger brother in the insurgency. His wife is also a PLA member. She was jailed for a long time during the conflict time.
Likewise, Ghimire, who come from Pyuthan, and is currently doing his master´s. He is one of the few combatants with highest academic background. His youngest brother and brother-in-law are in PLA and his elder brother and eldest brother-in-law killed in the war.
The former PLA chief prepared the list despite different options on who should lead the PAL in the integration discussed in the party in the past, according to PLA sources.
Amidst mounting pressure on the Maoist leadership in the past, the Maoist party had discussed three options on who should be recommended in senior ranks in the army during the integration.
In the first option, Maski was supposed to lead the PLA in the integration while Division Commanders Suk Bahadur Roka Magar and Yam Bahadur Adhikari should be recommended to the post of lieutenant colonels.
Similarly, the second option was: Santa Kumar Darai should lead the PLA in the integration while Darai and Adhikari should be recommended for the post of lieutenant colonel.
Likewise, under the third option, Division Commander Suk Bahadur Roka Magar was supposed to lead the PLA in the integration, while Tamang and Ghimire were to be recommended for the rank of lieutenant colonel.
"The position on what the party had told has now changed," said a dissatisfied commander preferring anonymity, "We now realize why Baidya [Mohan Baidya] formed a new party."