Most choosing voluntary retirement start living in highway-linked towns
GHORAHI (DANG), Sept 19: While a group of former People´s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel are in the selection process for integration into the national army, a large number of other ex-Maoist combatants and commanders, who opted for voluntary retirement, have started settling into family life.
Their place of preference for settling down, however, has not been their home districts. Instead, they have started settling mainly in towns located in the vicinity of the major highways which are also at the nearest points from their home districts.
Only a small number of those opting for voluntary retirement have returned to their home villages after receiving the money distributed by the government. Most of those returning to home villages are from the PLA rank and file.
The government has provided each combatant choosing voluntary retirement with Rs 500,000 to Rs 800,000, depending on their rank in the Maoist army.
Those preferring to settle in regional business hubs such as Mahendranagar, Dhangadi, Kohalpur, Dang, Butwal, Narayanghat and Bardibas said this was both their compulsion and because of their desire to seek a better life their families, mainly the children.
"Some of them have no choice because their houses have already become dilapidated while their arable lands have turned fallow in their absence during the decade-long underground period," said Shyam Kumar Budha Magar, a former PLA brigade commissar who is origionally from Rolpa district but currently lives in Ghorahi.
The former PLA commanders said there are mainly three reasons behind the former Maoist combatants choosing to stay in urban areas and not return to their home villages.
The first reason is they want to avoid awkward questions that ordinary people may pose about the promises they made during the insurgency period. "We had made lofty promises about transforming Nepali society into a classless, discrimination-free one and making all poor people happy," said Ram Lal Roka Magar, a former PLA division vice-commander. “But we do not have any answers.”
The next reason they give is there is no ´conducive environment´ for going back to the home village as their erstwhile juniors in the local party structure are now in leadership positions and they will have to work under them if they want to remain active in the party. Added to this, they will have to restart from zero in their personal lives whereas their colleagues are already better off in terms of money and social standing.
And the third reason is they want to enjoy the facilities that urban areas offer such as good schools for their children and better health and other facilities. "Urban areas are easier for us whether we take to business or politics," argued Deependra Kumar Gharti Magar, former brigade vice-commander.
According to Maoist leaders, former PLA from Seti and Mahakali Zones, who are mainly from the seventh division, are now living in Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar. Likewise, ex-combatants who hail from Bheri and Karnali and who were released from the 6th Division cantonment, have made Kohalpur their choice for settlement.
Ex-PLA who hail from Rapti and were cantoned in the fifth Division in Rolpa have chosen Ghorahi and Tulasipur as their new homes. Fourth Division former PLA hailing from Lumbini and Gandaki have started living in Butwal.
While a majority of combatants who chose voluntary retirement from the Third Division -- they were origionally mostly from Bagmati and Narayani -- have started living either in Narayanghat or in Kathmandu, almost all former PLA combatants hailing from Sagarmatha and Janakpur are living in Bardibas. They are mostly from the Second Division cantonment.
Those opting for voluntary retirement from the First Division Cantonment in Chulachuli have started living in Jhapa.