CHITWAN, Sept 20: Suka Bahadur Damai, took leave of cantonment life after the first phase of classification of the former Maoist rebel force and adopted a new life.
Damai spent the money received as the first installment of rehabilitation packages to manage households and started new job as a forest guard at Setidevi Community Forest in Mangalpur VDC to eke out the living.
At a time when his colleagues are waiting for next installments of rehabilitation packages to start new life, Damai has already spent two years in his new jobs.
“I joined the Maoist army for the sake of the country and I have no regrets. A man has to perform various roles as demanded by time and situations in life,” said Damai.
Damai also said the five years in cantonment away from his family were the hardest days of his life. “Although we did not have to struggle for livelihood in the cantonment, I am still affected by the psychological tension that was in the camp,” he said.
He also said that due to the aloof life in the cantonments many of his colleagues took to the illegal acts such as wood smuggling.
The Chairman of Setidevi Community Forest, Deepak Adhikari, who provided Damai with the job, is of the opinion that the communities have to provide whatever help possible to the ex-rebels to help them reintegrate into the society. Many combatants like Damai has followed the journey of peace to get themselves back into the society.
Former combatant Tej Bahadur Dong also started to look for the new job from the day he left the cantonment. He has started a small business with the hopes of providing a brighter future for his two sons. At the beginning , he was not able to decide what to do for the living, however later with the help from the community he is gradually adapting to the social life.
Except for some combatants who received driving training while in the camp, most of the former Maoist army are devoid of any particular skills. According to Nabin BC, former Maoist combatants are facing hard times adapting to the new life as they lack skills for any job. “While in the Maoist army they only learnt how to make bombs and use arms and ammunition. This skill has no place in the community now,” said BC.
Similarly another former combatant Hari Bahadur Basnet said that the life in the community would have been easier if there was skill enhancement training. After first and second phase of classification of the Maoist combatants, over 14 thousand have returned to civilian life. Lately, after the classification of the Maoist army to be integrated in the Nepali army, over 7 thousand more combatants are in the process to join the civic life in the society.