With one officer candidate, ex-combatants in Rolpa feel betrayed
DAHABAN (ROLPA), Sept 9: "It is only the sacrifice of my desires and dreams that I am going to join the Nepal Army to fulfill requests of my comrades and Rolpali people," said Phabindra Acharya a.k.a. Kshitiz, 31, standing in front of the Dahaban PLA cantonment.
Acharya, former PLA Battalion Vice commander of the Fifth Division, Rolpa, is the only former combatant who could join the Nepal Army (NA) at the officer level from Rolpa, the bastion of the Maoist "People´s War".
As most of the senior commanders have opted for volunteery retirement, Acharya is the only senior combatant who could get the highest rank of Leutenant from Rolpa.
Acharya decided to join the NA due to the request from his fellow comrades as they do not want to leave Rolpa without any representation at the officer level.
"Even I had made up my mind that I would not join the NA," said Acharya, "I was not for recruitment in the name of integration."
The 10-year long "People´s War" was led and commanded by the Rolpali commanders – Nanda Kishor Pun, Barsh Man Pun, Netra Bikram Chand, Shuk Bahadur Roka Magar, Ram Lal Roka Magar and others. Their contribution was crucial in making a major impact during the insurgency.
Unfortunately, at the end of the peace process, only one officer will be in the Nepal Army from Rolpa.
"It is very sad that only one of us would become an officer in the NA," said Acharya. "People from Rolpa virtually led the war and many Rolpalis got killed and injured, but they will be ones who are going to suffer in the name of integration."
Saying that the party and the government should have created an environment for their proper representation, Acharya now felt that the party and its leaders had gone against the people of Rolpa and its core cadres.
Only two Rolpalis - Acharya and another battalion commander Ras Bahadur Budha Magar - had opted to join the NA at officer level but the latter later backed out and instead went for voluntary retirement.
"I did not see any future in the NA for me," said Budha Magar. "I will get into politics instead."
During the war, the party leaders told us not to take the bourgeois education, said Acharya. "Thus, we have no certificate of education."
"The party and leaders agreed to go for integration on the basis of a certificate," said, Acharya giving the reason for less number of combatants who could qualify for officers in the NA.
Phabindra Acharya (L) and Ras Bahadur Budha Magar.
Another reason for many commanders opting out from integration process is that many of them are either injured during the war, or had reservation on the seven-point deal reached between the parties as they believe that the current process was a mere recruitment than integration in a dignified manner.
"If the party had kept these sensitive issues in mind and had corrected such technical problems, many of our comrades who had sound education would not have opted for voluntary retirement," said Tej Bahadur Oli, Fourth Division Commander. "And many of them felt that this is just a recruitment process, not an integration process."