Combatants' Farewell: Voilence as party 'demands' fighters' cash
Dozens of combatants complain commanders snatched cheques, ID cards
NAWALPARASI/, FEB 06 - With the Maoist party allegedly trying to pocket about half the money given to combatants opting for voluntary retirement , the process of bidding farewell to the former Maoist fighters has faced a new hurdle.
Dozens of retiring Maoist combatants on Sunday complained that their commanders snatched away pay cheques and identity cards. In Surkhet, commanders snatched away account payee cheques of some 26 combatants of the Jharana Smriti Brigade, Section Vice-Commander Man Bahadur Chand told the Post.
Things turned violent at the fourth division in Nawalparasi after the commanders forced the fighters to deposit 40 percent of the money. Witnesses said a bruised fighter was seen staggering outside the camp after a brawl. Commander Ranadip allegedly beat up some four combatants inside the camp after they refused to follow the "order".
Each of the 7,365 combatants is collecting cheques worth Rs 250,000 to Rs 400,000 as part of the first instalment.
"We risked our lives for the party's sake and now the party is doing injustice to us," said combatant Dhan Bahadur Rana from Arunkhola, Nawalparasi. "The amount we are paid is peanuts. We are shocked that the party is trying to take it from us."
Section Vice-Commander Chand of Surkhet said the party demanded he deposit Rs 200,000 and take home the rest, a mere Rs 50,000.
Following scuffle in different cantonments, some combatants lodged informal complaints with members of the Special Committee Secretariat.
However, with the commanders rubbishing the allegations, Secretariat members have asked the combatants to write a formal application so that the government can look into the matter.
"Some combatants have sought our help, saying that their party is trying to take away the money from them. We have told them that the issue can only be looked into if an official complaint is lodged," said Secretariat Coordinator Balananda Sharma. Sharma said the fighters are collecting account payee cheques, which means money cannot be withdrawn from the bank without the consent of the combatant concerned.
Fourth Division Commander Tej Prsasad Oli said the charges are baseless. "We are not threatening any fighter, but the disqualified ones have been threatening us while demanding some relief package," he said.
Some fighters, however, also said the party was charging a certain amount of the package money only from those who remained absent at the cantonments for a long time and recruited after the peace process began in 2006.
The issue has so far not been conveyed to Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, as there is not a single official complaint, Sharma said.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties have taken serious exception to the reported incidents of commanders seizing the cheques. They have demanded the PM clarify the matter.
In a three-party meeting at Singhadurbar on Sunday, leaders from the Nepali Congress said they were 'informed' of the Maoist party's attempt to capture pay cheques and identity cards of retiring fighters. The party said the developments in the cantonments were 'fishy.'
"We are hearing of a lot of such complains from combatants. We have demanded the prime minister hold a meeting of the special committee to dig out the truth," said NC leader and Special Committee member Dr Ram Sharan Mahat. In response, Bhattarai said he was unaware of such things happening. He, however, committed to look into the matter.
Posted on: 2012-02-06 01:00