KATHMANDU, Jan 5: The government from Friday started distributing new ID cards to the former Maoist combatants who were disqualified during UNMIN verifications. The new ID cards identify the disqualified combatants as "UNMIN discharged".
The former PLA have been staging sit-in protest at the party headquarters at Parisdanda since 27 November with 8-point demand, which includes removal of the "disqualified" tag. There are about 300 combatants including many women who have camped outside the party headquarters.
Those not present in Kathmandu will be provided with the ID cards at the headquarters of their respective districts.
In their eight-point demand, they have demanded that they should be provided package similar to the forrmer combatants who opted voluntary retirement, compensation for the families of the former combatants who committed suicide out of humiliation at being termed disqualified, and free education and treatment for the injured, among other things.
An ex-combatant with his card. (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
"We have been betrayed both by the party and the government. So to press our demands we will announce new nationwide protests soon," said Sagar Limbu, the "in-charge" of discharged former combatants. He also informed that they will leave Parisdanda on Saturday because women and children are falling sick due to biting cold. Among them, a female former combatant from Pyuthan who was injured in the course of a torch rally recently is undergoing treatment at Kantipur Hospital. The government has said it will pay for the treatment.
Altogether 4,008 former PLA combatants were discharged by UNMIN from cantonments either has underage or late recruits.
Also last year they had organized sit-in protest at Parisdanda and the party had sent them home by providing them transport fare. This time also the party has said they would be provided bus fares ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1500.
"But this is not enough and many of the comrades are adamant to leave without the demands fulfilled, but we have no alternative than to return home," said Limbu.
Ex-Maoist combatants with their ID cards. (Photo: Bhashwor Ojha)
Due to the sit-in protest by the former combatants, UCPN (Maoist) has not been able to hold several meetings at Parisdanda. About three meetings have been held elsewhere since the protest began. The former combatants said chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai have not visited Parisdanda to address their demands.
At times they even chant strong slogans against Dahal and Bhattarai. There is heavy presence of security forces to prevent the former combatants from entering the party office.