KATHMANDU, July 7: The integration process has stalled merely two days after it began following controversy over the age of Maoist combatants aspiring to join the Nepal Army.
A divisional commander said they would not allow the process to move ahead until the issue of their age is resolved. The controversy surfaced after the army recruitment committees disqualified a significant number of “overage and underage” ex-Maoist combatants.
"The process has temporarily been stalled. We have drawn the government´s attention in this regard," said NA Spokesperson Ramindra Chhetri.
According to a divisional commander, they decided to stall the process after the army´s selection committee disqualified even those combatants registered by United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) as 18-year olds.
“The army disqualified them saying they were not 18-year old when they joined the PLA," said the divisional commander, on condition of anonymity.
Besides, many combatants have two dates of birth -- with their UNMIN given identity having one date of birth and citizenship having another.
According to coordinator of the secretariat of the Special Committee Balananda Sharma, the age dispute surfaced as many of the combatants took citizenship certificates after UNMIN verification.
This problem first surfaced during the first and second phase of categorization of Maoist combatants in last Nomveber and April respectively.The secretariat had then issued separate identity cards to them mentioning both the ages to help the categorization process move ahead smoothly.
However, Chhetri said the selection committee has been carrying out its work as per the seven-point agreement and the government´s directive.
But the division commander told Republica, "We want the government to resolve the issue before taking the process ahead."
Combatants dancing at Shaktikhor cantonment. (Photo: Chandni Hamal)
Combatants stage protest at Shaktikhor cantonment. (Photo: Chandni Hamal)