Impact of the Maoist Insurgency on the Nepalese Society
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1. The Nepalese people had a positive, but to a large extent unrealistic, expectation with the new political establishment of 1990, which had installed a democratic system of governance in the country. This form of governance was unable to meet the people's expectations. Midterm parliamentary elections of November, 1994 resulted in a hung parliament that further led to a power-centric rivalry between various political parties. Maoists, a radical fraction of the Nepalese communist movement, whose ultimate goal was to establish a communist republic through armed struggle, found the prevailing environment most appropriate for triggering a long awaited armed struggle. The Maoists started an armed insurgency amidst political instability from the remote hills of mid Western region, and finally emerged as a threat to Nepal's democracy. The Nepalese government, in its various capacities, fought the Maoist insurgency. The government was able to contain a growing insurgency, but had not been able to achieve the desired political end state within the existing constitutional framework.
2. Nepal endured the Maoist insurgency for more than a decade and this truly posed a formidable threat to national security. The government failed to anticipate and diagnose the problem properly in the first place and a frequently changing government could not effectively employ the instruments of national power by devising a coherent and coordinated national strategy. Ultimately, the government relied on security/military measures without formulating a viable and broader political and socio-economic strategy. The government's response to the Maoist challenge in general was reactive, inconsistent, and far from effective. The extreme friction and division within the ruling circles prevented the state from articulating a clear, consistent and convincing response during the most critical phase of democratic transition. The conflict resolution and long-term stability in Nepal is still uncertain, yet the conflict settlement process has started after more than a decade long conflict. Had there been a better understanding of the insurgency from the beginning, conflict would have been less costly.
3.Emergence of Nepal Communist Party (Maoist).Understanding the birth of the Nepal Communist Party (Maoist), relates back to the conquest of Kathmandu valley in 1769 by a king from Gorkha, a small principality in central Nepal. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Shah dynasty of Gorkha through conquest, marriage and diplomacy had succeeded in annexing the small principalities and forming the country that is today known as Nepal. Towards the end of the unification campaign in the early nineteenth century, the King's power waned and control of the state slid into the hands of the military families. Competition for the control of the state led to bloody struggle between different military families. From the mid nineteenth century onwards, the state machinery became the preserve of one family - the Ranas.
4. With its aim to overthrow the Rana rule, the Nepali National Congress (NC) was formed in 1946 in Banaras by fusing the Akhil Bharatiya Nepal Rashtriya Congress, the Nepali Sangh and the Gorkha Congress. Pushpa Lal Shrestha who served as the office secretary for Nepali National Congress was dissatisfied with the NC's policies for a non-violent struggle. He quit the party and started working on setting up a communist party. He translated and published Marx's Communist Manifesto which was released on 15 September 1949, the date that is considered the founding day of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN). Although political parties were legally prohibited during this time, Nepali students in India had been exposed to Marxist views and many were even affiliated to CPI (Communist Party of India). At the time of the 1950 uprising, the CPN was in the early stages of party formation. Although it enunciated its ideology of class struggle and armed revolution, the party was not explicit about its objectives nor was it clear about its role in the 1950 movement in which NC had professed overthrowing the Rana regime and establishing democracy with constitutional monarchy. Therefore, NC dominated the 1950 revolution and CPN began expanding its support base and exercising its strength only after 1950.
5. Ideological and personality clashes among the leaders began eroding the organizational unity of the CPN during the decades of 1960s and 1970s. The party divided into three branches: the moderates, the extremists and the radicals. In 1974 the ‘central nucleus' split into the CPN led by Mohan Bikram and Nirmal Lama and the CPN led by Man Mohan Adhikari. The communist party led by Adhikari joined with smaller groups and formed the CPN (ML) in 1978. By 1991 the CPN (ML) joined hands with Pushpa Lal's CPN (Marxist) to form the CPN (Unified Marxist Leninist) a nomenclature that is retained to this day. At the time of the 1990 movement, the CPN (UML) was the largest Communist organization in the country.
6. While the Communist party led by Man Mohan Adhikari was consolidating with smaller groups and expanding its base, the other CPN was experiencing numerous break offs. In May of 1979, King Birendra announced a national referendum. Disputes arose between the two leaders of this party regarding the referendum. Mohan Bikram Singh was unwilling to participate in a referendum called by the King while Nirmal Lama, general secretary, accepted the referendum and faced opposition within his party. As a result, he was forced to resign from his post. Ultimately, Mohan Bikram Singh and Nirmal Lama parted ways. Singh formed his own party the CPN (Masal) in 1983. In 1985, Masal fragmented into Mashal and Masal. Mashal, led by Mohan Baidya, was subsequently replaced by Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, who would later be known as the Maoist supremo. The subsequent development and emergence of the Maoist party is shown in Appendix “A”.
7.Background of Maoist Insurgency in Nepal.The start of armed insurgency was not only the result of an opportunistic response to the emerging political instability after 1990 but also the product of a rational and deliberate calculation. Some form of radical elements of the leftist movement in Nepal has always believed in armed insurgency. The root of the communist movement in Nepal goes back to the birth of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) in 1949. The CPN had secured four seats out of 104 in the first ever parliamentary election conducted in 1959. The CPN was split on the question of supporting a royal takeover in December 1960. Towards the latter half of the 1970s, the communist movement in Nepal had also developed its radical factions which were influenced by the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Naxalites movement of India. Following in the footsteps of Naxlites, CPN (Marxist-Leninist) carried out killings of local land owners in eastern Jhapa district of Nepal during the late 1970s, also known as Jhapa Uprising. This uprising was immediately suppressed by the then Panchyat government, a party-less government system under direct rule of the monarch. The Nepalese communists were generally divided into two groups until the end of the Panchayat system. One group was ready to follow democratic system and another believed in seizure of power through armed insurgency. CPN (Maoist), who started the armed insurgency in February 1996, was always in favor of armed insurgency. Maoists, through their open political front, forwarded a 40 point demand to the government in February 1996, as an ultimatum otherwise to begin an armed insurgency; however, the Maoists started the armed insurgency even before reaching the deadline.
8.Government's Counter Insurgency Strategy.Nepal had experienced 15 different governments from 1990 to April 2006. Political instability made democratic transition difficult and prevented the government from acting appropriately against the insurgency. Various governments endeavored to respond to insurgency with a range of policy instruments during their respective tenure. Weak administrative infrastructure, frequent changes in government, hung parliaments, lack of determined leadership, diverse interest and different views of major political forces towards insurgency contributed to reactive, inconsistent and sometimes counterproductive response. Maoists completed preparation of the armed insurgency by keeping the government unaware, in order to avoid government repression. As an initial response, the government preferred to use police forces without anticipating the long term consequences. Police operations engaged the Maoists, but never controlled the local population. These repressive and heavy handed law and order measures further alienated the local populace, which ultimately benefited the insurgents for organizational expansion. Only with the November 2001 offensive by the Maoists, did the government become more serious. After initial setbacks, the government decided to take a immediate approach to address grievances at the local level. It was conceived as the Internal Security and Development Program (ISDP). Increased Maoist violence prevented the government from running such types of programs together with combat operations in the insurgency infested areas. The government was forced to back out of this program. Nepalese government counter insurgency measures from 1996 to 2006 included programs as followings:
- Initial Police/administrative measures.
- Security/military measures with ISDP programs.
- Counter Insurgency Operations.
- Peace Talks
- Promulgation of Terrorist and Terrorism Act.
- Activation of special courts to try insurgents.
Statement Of The Problem
9. The researcher intends to analyze the impact of the Maoist insurgency on the Nepalese society in terms of political, social, economic and security aspect which they were forced to undergo during the period. The researcher also lays suggestions and recommendations to assist the future military leaders for better understanding of the problems and ways to address all societal needs if exposed to similar type of environment in the future.
10. The Nepalese society and the people were the main victim of the conflict during the decade long insurgency, in terms of social, economic and political losses.
Justification Of The Study
11. Conflict, war and warlike events themselves are intolerable events in a peaceful society and automatically their impact on the society and its organ is more intolerable. The research will limit itself to a brief description of the then prevailing political situation. The main focus of the research will be concentrated towards how the society experienced the insurgency/counterinsurgency operations. A detailed analysis of the state's inability to visualize the social, political, security and economic impact realized during the counter insurgency will be analyzed in detail.
12. The sole intent to scrutinize the above mentioned aspects is to provide an insight view to all the readers to understand the psychological pressure that the Nepalese society had undergone during the counter insurgency operations. Despite being one of the most significant subjects, there were some limitations regarding preparation of the paper which includes; the time limitation to make detailed study and the other commitments of the researcher in the college as well.
13. There are various national and international books, research & paper written, prepared & published by military professionals, academicians & journalist about the Maoist insurgency and the government's approach to the problem, but only few of them that were relevant to the subjects were studied for the preparation of the paper.
Methods Of Data Collection
14. This paper is based on a review and examination of information gathered from a variety of secondary sources. Due to the nature and availability of numerous research works on the subject matter the researcher did not opt for any field based research. This study is based on a descriptive along with analytical study of the Nepalese government's counter insurgency strategy along with its impact on the Nepalese populace at large. For this, the researcher has mainly studied and analyzed books and various websites. This research is by no means a complete picture of the conflict in Nepal and neither a complete picture of the Nepalese experiences during the insurgency period. Neither does this research claim to cover all impacts, but merely constitutes a review dependent upon available information.
Organisation Of The Dissertation
15. It is proposed to study the subject in the following manner:
- The chapter II highlights the background reasons behind the decade long conflict, in which more than 13 thousand innocents lost their lives.
- The chapter III briefly tries to explain the societal experiences of the insurgency in various levels and facades.
- The chapter IV tries to analyze the victims of the insurgency.
- The chapter V finally concludes the research, with proving of the hypothesis.
BACKGROUND REASONS BEHIND THE CONFLICT
16. On February 13, 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), initiated a People's War with over 5,000 actions being carried out throughout the country including armed assaults on police stations in rural districts, the confiscation of property from oppressive landlords and punishment of local tyrants. The Maoist movement in Nepal grew out of imbalance within the society due to poverty, unemployment and frustration among the youths. Inaccessible hills, lack of communication and illiteracy further created an environment where insurgency could easily take its roots. Political instability in the country and failure of political leaders to respond to the hopes of mass population further attributed to the rise of Maoist movement.
17. Geographical disparity.Mid Western and far Western regions are basically remote areas of Nepal suffering from widespread poverty, disparity, structural inequality, injustice and discrimination. This in turn provided the Maoist with perfect breeding ground. Hence, the insurgency started from the mid-Western region (namely Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan and Jajarkot districts). Gradually they were able to increase their influence across the country and later were virtually present in all seventy five districts from rural to urban and hills to terai (plain) areas. The geographical expansion and growth of the Maoist insurgency was sharp and ubiquitous mainly because of two reasons. First, they effectively and successfully utilized media, rights activists, frustrated masses (e.g., ex-bounded laborers, unemployed youths, etc.) and poor, marginalised and underprivileged groups. They also created reign of terror to help expand their activities. Second, complete failure of the government to address geographical inequalities and provide regionally balanced development opportunities and infrastructures. All form of governance had completely neglected these two regions as they were inaccessible and remote.
18.Impacts of the Security Forces.Nothing can be more appalling to innocent rural community than when security forces move in, searching for insurgents. Because of the poor training of the police personnel and their lack of knowledge and proper orientation, instead of resolving the problem, they usually end up becoming major problems themselves. Police Operations like Operation Romeo, Operation Kilo Shera-2 and Jungle Search Operations (1998-99) and Silent Kilo Shera-3, Delta and Operation Chakrabihu (2000-May 2001) did not prove effective. Instead they helped escalate the conflict from certain geographical areas to across the country. Large numbers of innocent people were victims of these operations, which developed further resentment and feeling of revenge. The government completely failed to recognize the gravity of the problem of geographically neglected areas. Thus the Maoist were able to give the impression to the general public that they truly represented their interests, needs and aspirations of geographically isolated poor rural population who had been excluded from the economic, political and social opportunities mainly because of staying in geographically remote and backward areas.
19.Social Exclusion and Acute Inequalities. Absolute poverty, lack of access to resources and failure of political structures to address these issues made the Nepalese society extremely vulnerable to conflict. Deep rooted social cleavages in terms of caste, ethnicity, gender, regional, cultural, linguistic and religious forms of discrimination provided fertile ground to escalate the conflict.Maoists successfully capitalised the widely discernible disillusionment of people towards poor performance of political structure. Dominance of certain groups (e.g., Brahmin, Chhetri and Newar) in all social, political and economic sectors promoted feeling of injustice and revenge as lower caste people strongly believed that they had been excluded from opportunities and resources. Maoists tactically utilised these feelings. The emergence of ethnic interest groups, awareness on social exclusion, ethnic inequalities and governance failure fuelled the conflict.
20.Unstable Government and Their Lack of Responsiveness.There has been considerable political instability since the inception of democracy in the country. The performance of parliamentary democracy for years had repeatedly failed by its frequent shifting of alliances, changing stands with the alternative governments and seeking fresh elections. This trend created an unhindered and favorable environment for the Maoist to widen their influence, the government being unable to take any bold steps for the economic as well as social upliftment of the people. The people, who had great expectations from the political leaders after the restoration of democracy, were disheartened by their irresponsible acts of engaging themselves in internal wrangling.
21.Lack of good governance.The revolving door charade of ministers with the formation and fall of different governments only increased the corrupt practices across the board.The splitting of major parties created a weaker government which inspired the rampage corruption in the administrative sector. The nepotism and favoritism made people feel the class discrimination. Such conditions decreased the faith towards the government and the Maoists were successful in exploiting the discontented group to gain passive or active support.
22.Fragile Economy and Rampant Poverty. Nepal ranks among the poorest countries of the world. With no major industries for earning foreign currency and deteriorating tourism industry, the economic condition of the country is decreasing each day. No economic program had been implemented effectively in the remote areas where 85 percent of the populations are still in acute poverty. The 2002 Budget presented by the government headed by then Prime Minister Deuba painted a gloomy economic picture of the country. Out of Rs. 96.12 billion, Rs. 57.45 billion was set aside for regular expenditure and rest for developmental projects. Rs. 14 billion was allocated to the security forces. This meant regular expenses were higher than expenditure under the development section in the, and government was giving more importance to law and order than economic reform.
23.Ideology.Maoist Movement involves only a small minority of the country's population as active participants. Most of the participants are members of the underground who perform their normal functions within the society along with their clandestine and covert activities. However, ideology has been an important factor in unifying the many divergent interests and goals that exists among the Maoist movement's membership. As a common set of interrelated beliefs, values and norms, the ideology has been used to manipulate and influence the behavior of individuals with in the communities and societies. Such strategy of the Maoist has directly or indirectly motivated and attracted many innocent citizens of the country.
24.Illiteracy and ignorance. Nepal's Functional literacy remains low, even though official statistics show that the literate population numbers at around 60 percent. Most of the literate or educated are again concentrated in the cities and often it is the illiterate majority that remains back in the villages where the Maoists are still active with organization building. Those without proper education are unable to distinguish between promises and practical goals and because they are “unaware” or not “critically conscious” about what they are told, they are more likely to be influenced. Inability of the people to differentiate between what is told to them and what is achievable is reason for the increase in support to the Maoists. Low literacy and lack of effective information and communication mechanisms in rural areas provided the Maoists, the space to persuade locals to support their cause and at the same time failure of democracy to deliver up to the expectations of the people contributed to the frustrations of the poor and to the growth of the insurgency.
Positive Aspects Of The Conflict
25. The conflict also had some “positive” aspects, i.e. if one discounts and pretends to temporarily forget the losses. These positive aspects are the social reforms initiated by the government after the Maoists began rattling the status quo by forcibly correcting some long-standing socio-cultural inequities. Some of those reforms were in the plans and programs of the government and political parties but had never really been implemented. The Maoists have effectively challenged the discriminatory and exploitative caste system and have taken the debate on ethnicity and identity to the level of discussion or regional autonomy and self-determination.
26. The Maoists advocate regional autonomy, promising nationalities and geographically specific regions the right to self-determination. Locally, Maoists women, enforced bans on alcohol production and distribution, which they claim had helped reduce social evils (domestic violence, for example), and also to improve food security by ensuring that food grains are not used for brewing alcohol. The anti-alcohol drive, however also had another side. Many of the ethnic populations need alcohol for religious ceremony and cultural events, and the industry is also a major employer.
27. In the village the Maoists are also said to have forcefully ended polygamy, by shaming or even killing those found guilty of the offense, which is something every woman would support. They also advocated equality of the sexes, and were able to portray that they are at least better than the state, on gender equality. According to published information, about one third of the Maoists militia comprises women, which is symbolically a better mix, compared to the status of women in state institutions. Furthermore, in the Maoists “base areas” - places where they claimed to have complete control - they tried out different development models, for example cooperatives, restoration of the tenancy rights of tillers and the setting up of “model” primary schools.
SOCIETAL EXPERIENCES OF THE INSURGENCY
AND COUNTER INSURGENCY
28. Nepal has endured a decade long brutal insurgency which pushed the nation to the brink of catastrophe. Notwithstanding the little knowledge and experience in Counter Insurgency (COIN), Nepal's Armed forces were haphazardly deployed to mitigate the threat posed by the insurgents. Devoid of a proper political stratagem, however, the military response failed to yield the intended outcome.Any form of violence / conflict leaves behind physical scars not only on the mankind but also to its surroundings with the left away of damaged building, displaced individuals and families, disrupted public services along with the deaths and disappearances. However, the real damage is done on the hearts and minds of the people, most of them civilian peoples who stayed as bystanders during the entire period of the conflict sharing the both pain from the side of the rebel and the government forces. Hence following are some of the broad categories in terms of social, political, economic and security impact that the researcher has identified as possible areas which were experienced by the Nepalese as a whole in the past conflict.
29. The conflict in Nepal had resulted into death of more than thirteen thousand, from the hands of Maoist or the security forces. Many more have been impaired for life and thousands more have been displaced from their homes. There were fightings almost every day after November 2001, except during seven months of truce between January and August 2003. The conflict between the security forces and the Maoist in the past had far-reaching effects on any society, in terms of destruction, disruption, diversion and dissaving. Besides destruction of material, the conflict also disrupted the normal walk of life of the people causing social and economic losses, many of which were difficult to measure. Some of them being the pain of an individual or group that had lost their dear and near ones, anguish of bereaved widows, orphans and friends and families of those killed in the conflict, belonging either to security forces, civilians or the Maoist combatant. Besides, there is other aspect of the socio-cultural impact which includes displacement of people resulting to homeless, Human Rights violations, educational shutdown, detainees and disappearance, psychological and mental problems in children and women, degradation in environmental protection are some of the experiences faced by the society during the insurgency period. Following paragraphs discuss the socio-cultural impacts of the conflict, based on the findings from the research.
30.Displacement. Operation Romeo was the major pushing factor for the displacement of people right before the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) declared People's War on 13 Feb 1996 with an aim to overthrow the constitutional Monarchy and establish New Republican State. Later it was followed by the government launching Operation Kilo Sierra Two which also fuelled the displacement problem.The rate of internal displacement was further intensified after the government initiated actual counter insurgency operation. However there are no any definite statistics of the displaced people and the one available also shows the variations regarding the numbers of Internally Displaced People (IDP) which is shown in Appendix “B”, this however does not include the displaced people due to the threat of the government and security forces.
31. However it has been clear that the displacement had been both voluntary and forced. Those who left the village voluntary did so fearing they could be attacked by the Maoist, even though they were not threatened by them. Most of the voluntary migrants included members of the politician, local landlords, money lenders and the ones who were involved in illegal activities. The bitter experience of the displaced people could be understood easily since any individual that are forced to move from his/her place of residence faces multiple problems.
32.Children and Women.Where ever there is a conflict, children and women are often the worst sufferers in the conflicts, it is no doubt that many have appreciated Maoist for empowering women into their party but there are many more who blames Maoist for victimizing them as well. Though recruitment of women alongside of the men in the militia/guerilla has been termed as empowerment but at the same time the ignorance of the hardship that the women had to undergo during the conflict has always been neglected. Women experienced conflict differently than men, there were numerous cases regarding gendered form of violence during counter insurgency operations such as rape, slavery, deprivation of food, teenage widow and eviction from the family (according to Thapa, Ranjana, Impact of Armed Conflict on Women). They were victims of rape and torture and would often end up being forced to raise their children on their own, especially after their male partner were killed or captured. There were incidents where the young women/girls within Maoist had suffered from sexual abuse and exploitation, there was an interview in the national TV which the researcher still recalls, a 19 year old women Maoist cadre had claimed that she and many in their party had to fulfill the sexual desire of their own level Maoist cadre and she further notified that sometimes she even had to fulfill sexual desire of more than dozen per night. Overall, women had been adversely affected during these periods, whether as daughters, mothers, sisters or wives of both the personnel of the security forces and the Maoist.
33. Despite a national campaign “Children as Zone of Peace”, it was the children who were caught up in the Maoist conflict mainly as victims. Many had been killed in the Maoist - Government conflict of which they were no part of. According to the INSEC, over 260 children under the age of 18 were killed in the conflict between 1996 till 2004. Many others were wounded and many had lost either both or one of their parents. According to other estimate, at least 2,000 children have lost one parent and more than 4,000 had been displaced. The Maoist at one hand had been using children as child soldier by either using them for combatant, cultural groups or as informants. At the same time the security forces have also used children in various ways such as guides, couriers and porters. Children nationwide experienced school disruptions because of Maoist attack on schools, forced closures and strikes at schools. The Maoist always use to see school going children as their potential future combatant or child combatant resulting into abduction of entire class of student.
34. The framework projected in Appendix “C” provides an overview of an involvement of children in armed conflict and its impact which was distinctly experienced/ observed during the counter insurgency operations against the Maoist Peoples War.
35.Health and Food Security.Though many people had experienced death as a direct result of fighting from knife wounds, bullet, bombs and landmines, but many more died from malnutrition and disease due to Maoist People's war. The interruption of food supplies by the security forces, the destruction of agricultural and health services infrastructures by the Maoist, resulted into diminished food intake and severe malnutrition/infections, the target always being children and the older peoples in the society. The people living in the rural area of Nepal experienced serious cutback in local food production, caused by the migration of the merchants from the rural areas, lack of access to markets due to restriction imposed by the Maoist cadres and the displacement of able human resources from the villages.
36. In one incident in particular in 2004, Rolpa district suffered from transport blockade for nearly a year, similarly four village in Acham district faced movement restriction for over year and the Doti district faced blockade of food transportation for more than 6 months, all of them were enforced by the Maoist activists. On the other hand, in order to prevent food from falling into the hands of the Maoists, the security forces had also imposed small weekly quotas on private traders of food in some district. In some cases these amounts were so small that it was not worth for merchants to long risky journey to sell it. The quotas impacted civilians more then intended Maoist force because the Maoist regularly forced the villagers to provide them with meals, leaving very little food left for feeding families.
37.Human trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Trafficking of women and girls to India and other countries is a long standing problem in Nepal. Anecdotal evidence indicates that this situation had been worst during the armed conflict in Nepal. The hypothetical analysis that one can make from this is, the traffickers who previously preyed directly on women and girls in their communities were later easily accessible in the cities because lots of people living in the rural area fled their community and started living in the urban area after they experienced harassment from both Maoist and the security forces. Besides, the fear of getting stranded between the Maoist and the Security forces clash, fear of abduction or recruitment or in search of functioning school in the major cities most of the young men and women ended up in the situation where they had to work as sex workers to survive, resulting into unprotected sex and ultimately transmission of HIV/AIDS.
38.Education.Alike in all other societal paradigm the armed conflict had severely affected the educational system of the country especially those of the rural areas where the schools were targeted and used as ground for child recruitment and abduction, and with teachers targeted for intimidation, taxation and violence. Many schools in the district HQ were crowded with the students displaced from rural areas, while schools in the rural areas were under attended by the students and the teachers due to fear, insecurity and displacement. People living in the rural areas had especially experienced things like forceful closure of hundreds of private schools, threatened the teacher to make 10 percent of their salary for donations, brutal slaughter of the teachers in front of their students and students taken from the school compound and forced to listen to their speech, cultural programs or any communist revolutionary events in many district across country. Compound of the schools in the rural areas were full of trenches which the Maoist had constructed to fight against the security forces by coercing the teachers, students and their parents to participate in digging.
39. Protected Areas/National Parks. The conservation of wildlife and forest in Nepal began in 1973 after the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) established several protected areas (PA) which include nine National Parks, three Conservation Areas, three Wildlife Reserves, and one Hunting Reserve. In addition to these sixteen PAs, six National Parks had established Buffer Zones where resource use by local peoples is regulated to promote sustainability. After the DNPWC was established, the Nepalese Army was positioned within the PAs to protect valuable natural resources and to limit biodiversity loss. These units served as a strong psychological deterrent to poachers and illegal dealers in wildlife species and their products. But after the People's war and more over after Nepalese Army involvement in the counter insurgency operations, Nepalese Army units deployed at various areas to guard the illegal activities along the protected area had largely withdrawn from extensive portions of PAs and limited its patrolling areas close to PA Headquarters.
40. The NA units stationed within PAs, their mandate changed from patrolling and protecting PAs to combating Maoist forces as well. This, in turn, made PAs and the military units within them a target for Maoist attack. The Maoists began their assault on PA infrastructure by striking and destroying outlying PA guard posts that were extremely vulnerable. This largely succeeded in pushing the Nepalese Army and PA staff into PA headquarters which helped the Maoist to use rural PA as training grounds. Timber extraction and poaching also allegedly continued without any hindrance in the absence of security forces. Timber smuggling in Maoist influenced areas became dependent on local cadre leadership. Maoists in some areas even established their safe haven or temporary camps, and in other areas took over community forests and used the profits made from timber to finance their activities affecting directly in the livelihood of the local people.
41. It is difficult to calculate the costs of any war. Therefore, the overall cost of the Nepali conflict is also almost incalculable. The socio-cultural costs tend to have longer impacts than the physical damages, both at the individual level and in society at large. Even the direct economic costs are difficult to account for especially in countries like Nepal where record keeping remains primitive. There are several estimates that indicate the direct costs of the conflict. According to an April 2003 estimate of the National Planning Commission (NPC), it would need about NRs 20 billion to rebuild the infrastructures damaged in the conflict. The Maoists sabotage made 1,903 village development committee buildings unusable, damaged municipality and DDC buildings, caused telecommunication disruptions in over 14 districts, and also caused five hydropower plants to temporarily stop production. The Maoists also targeted and damaged several airstrips, some of which like Dunai of Dolpa district had not been brought back in operation even years after the attack. Others have put the cost of the conflict as 8-10 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, or about NRs 40 billion based on the overall GDP.
42.Physical Damage. An estimate conducted by the NPC (National Planning Commission) indicates that the rebuilding of the infrastructures damaged in the conflict could cost upto NRs 30 billion. Sabotage attacks have been central to the Maoist's strategy and both the number and value of the infrastructures damaged were at rise during the armed struggle. The Maoist had attacked and damaged hydroelectricity installations (Jhimrukh, Andhikhola and Modi) and several rural micro hydro plants nationwide. They had also attacked and damaged grid transmission lines and substations. Airports were also targeted, they attacked and substantially damaged 14 airstrips, mainly in rural areas and also attacked and damaged more than 300 government offices. The number of VDCs destroyed is shown in Appendix “D”. The number of police post attacked and damaged includes more than 100. Another major economic cost had been the robbery and burning of banks.
43.Information and Communication. Telecommunication towers became targets because they were located away from urban centers and were poorly guarded. The other reasons could have been strategic as well. In many instances, the security forces also ordered closing down of local public telephone booths on the presumption that the Maoist may use the phones to communicate. The Nepal Telecommunication Corporation reported damages to 112 telephone stations and substations in 45 districts at different point of time, resulting into disruption of services to 8,898 subscribers. The telephone services were affected in 276 places at different time. The total direct cost in terms of restoration and maintenance of damaged system was estimated as NRs 5.7 million in early 2003. Maoist had attacked and destroyed 5 district post office, 174 Ilaka post office and additional 328 post offices. The cost of getting the system working again would cost about 37.7 million. The Maoist also attacked and destroyed the infrastructure of the Nepal TV Transmission station worth NRs 1.9 million.
44. Tourism. The travel industry witnessed a steady decline in arrivals since 1999 after the bad publicity of the conflict in Nepal at international press after the violence escalated. The increased Maoist's activities in extortion of trekking taxes and donations from the tourist visiting different parts of the country definitely decreased the inflow of the tourist in Nepal. The number of tourist arrivals and the foreign exchange earnings during the period is shown in Appendix “E”.
45. Foreign Investment and Employment. After the Maoist started sabotaging the infrastructure, the private business, which escalated in 2000 the foreign investors, had lost its confidence in investing in Nepal. Besides the increasing numbers of general strikes, bandh and forceful collection of taxes mainly by Maoist had severely affected in the investment of the foreign investors. At the same time the number of jobseekers had grown because of migration of people from rural areas to the urban cities. The job in the agricultural field also was affected by the conflict due to the migration of the people towards urban areas.
46. Political groups in Nepal have a history of division and mistrust, and have been accused of failing to put the interests of the country ahead of their own ethnic or regional interests . It was the political instability and lapses in governance that allowed the insurgency, which began in a handful of districts in February 1996, spread rapidly to other parts of the country. Increasing corruption, bad governance and the inability of governments to meet popular aspirations meant the Maoists' manifesto of a communist utopia was easy to sell among the masses who felt cheated by their leaders. The Maoists were clever enough to realise that ideology alone would not win them popular support, and began to take up issues close to the hearts of most rural Nepalese - exploitation, discrimination, poverty, corruption and inequality.
47. Some times internal imbalances of power, unfulfilled basic needs, denial of rights, aggressive impulse of leaders and groups, sense of ideological supremacy, identity politics and absence of weak law-enforcing mechanism also contribute to internal conflict. Unaddressed aspirations, if endorsed by organized voice, do have a tendency to snowball into a political movement and agitation. Given the scale of illiteracy, poverty and corruption in the Nepalese society, these aspirations and frustrations can fuel any movement if there is an alternative leadership, with proven or even perceived credibility. Such a movement often may take radical or militant course and tie the leadership in an expectation trap.
48. According to a recent study, Brahminsconstitute only 16 percent of the population; they represent 57 percent of parliament and 89 percent of the judiciary. This pattern of exclusion is repeated at the local government level, in occupying this position of marginalization and disempowerment, Dalits was quickly identified as a base of ready support for the Maoist insurgency. As a result Maoist insurgents capitalized on caste and gender discrimination in Nepal as a means of legitimizing and recruiting for their armed revolution.
49.Assertiveness of the King. The power struggle between the NCP Chairman Girija Koirala and the Prime Minister Deuba resulted into the dissolution of the parliament (in July 2002) and the breakdown of the NC Party. The dissolution of the parliament by the Deuba without getting approval from the ruling party fuelled the conflict within the constitutional parties. This situation further helped the Maoists. The Prime Minister dissolved the parliament when the ruling party decided to withdraw the State of Emergency against the will of the Deuba and declared the date election of the Parliament for Nov 13. After some weeks the Maoists declared the national strike on the Election Day. The government ultimately declared its inability to accomplish the election. The failure of the government to accomplish the parliamentary election in November 13 put country into constitutional crisis. The constitutional political parties had violated the constitutional provision of compulsorily holding the Parliamentary Election within 6 months of its dissolution by allowing Deuba to postpone it at the last stage. When Deuba recommended the Kings to postpone the election for 14 months the King sacked him saying he is incapable and asssumed the executive power. The action of the King was severely criticised by the political parties but they did not co-operate with the King to settle the crisis. After 7 days the King formed a care taker government, which was again vehemently objected by the political parties. But these political parties had no common opinion about the solution that they would want from the King. The mainstream NCP wanted to reinstall the dissolved parliament, the CPN-UML wanted to form a national government and the breakaway Deuba faction wanted to reinstall his government. Hence once again the Nepalese experienced the actual face of the political parties who despite fulfilling the peoples will were engaged once again in their petty differences.
50. Security forces, especially the military is only a simple tool for the state to deal with insurgency. Nepal has endured a decade long brutal insurgency which pushed the nation to the brink of catastrophe. Notwithstanding the little knowledge and experience in COIN, Nepal's Armed forces were haphazardly deployed to mitigate the threat posed by the insurgents. Devoid of a proper political stratagem, however, the military response failed to yield the intended outcome. In case of dealing with the Maoist insurgency, the mobilization of the army was one of the most contentious issues in the initial phase of the problem especially before the emergency was declared. Being the most important element of national power, the Nepalese Army was actively operational against the Maoist guerrillas during counter insurgency operations launched by the government.
51. Security forces under the lead role of the Nepalese Army faced numerous setbacks during Counter Insurgency Operations but the reality is that the security forces despite limited support from its political master and peoples support deed suppressed the Maoist insurgency, in terms of forcing them to discard their military aim. Hence we can say it was a tactical victory for the military or security force but was strategic loss. The reason for which is the government's lack of vision to mobilise all the elements of national power to combat insurgency which can also be termed as a blunder of the military counter insurgency operation strategy.
VICTIMIS OF THE INSURGENCY
52. People living in particular geographical areas seemed more likely to face ill treatment than those living elsewhere. People living in the periphery of the district headquarters were likely to be victimized by both the sides because they suspected the locals could be potential informants for the other side. The security forces mostly concentrated at the district headquarters and the Maoist activities were concentrated in the far-flung villages. The security forces generally patrolled areas around the district centre, travelling to distances from where they could return to camp before darkness. The Maoists also seemed to want to occasionally demonstrate their presence by carrying out activities around the district headquarters. Tactically, this may have been done to ensure that the security forces remained concentrated in and around the district centre in order to ensure that they had freedom to carry out their activities in the interiors. In other words, the Maoists also wanted to use such areas as a protective layer to prevent security forces from entering the core activity areas. The villages near the district headquarters also served them as watch posts to keep track of the activities of the security forces. They did not trust all the locals of such villages, suspecting that some could also be keeping watch on Maoists activities for the government forces. Such villages were easy for the security forces to patrol in a day's trip. They came and usually fished around for information on Maoists activities and when they did not get what they were looking for, they tended to accuse the locals of not cooperating or of being Maoist supporters.
Variation In Victimization
53.Ethnicity. People belonging to particular ethnic/caste groups were also unduly harassed. According to researchers own experience, the kham Magars and Tharus were considered “Natural” suspects by the security forces in Mid and Far-Western Nepal. Tere was a pattern in terms of ethnicity and victimisation. Those that were targeted were Kham Magars in Rolpa; Tharus in general and the Kamaiyas in particular in Kailali; Magars and Dalits in general and particularly blacksmiths in Baglung; Tamang, Thangmi and Jirel in Dolkha and Kirantis in Sankhuwasabha. People from these ethnic groups were even harassed when they travelled to other parts of the country, especially at security check posts on the highways, and also at their work places (brick factories in Kathmandu valley, for example).
54.Sex and Age: Woman and Children. Young men and women were victimised most by both the Maoist and the security forces sides. People from these population groups were either suspected to be Maoists or were forcefully recruited by the rebels. Women, children, and the elderly also had to endure extreme harassment because someone in their family was with either side.
55.Ideology and Political Affiliation. The Maoists were found to be intolerant towards people from other parties, especially those who challenged their politics. For example, they targeted UML workers in Dolakha, NC People in Rolpa and Janamorcha/Mashal members in Baglung. The security forces had also detained and tortured Janamorcha workers who belonged to the same party as the Maoists ten years ago and were now caught up between the rebels and the security forces. The people believing in leftist politics were also vulnerable to attacks. The security forces-thinking that they could be Maoists or could have information on the rebels-often targeted supporter's of communist parties other than the Maoists.
56.Physical Features/Qualities. People with scars on their bodies were also suspected and often questioned by the security forces. Those that belonged to Janajati and Dalit groups were more likely of being harassed. The security forces examined the knees and elbows of young men and women looking for wear and tear and to decide whether or not they had undergone guerrilla training. Those with suspicious marks would have much explanation to do, more so for people from the ethnic groups and Dalits.
57.Media. Journalists, in general and local reporters in particular, had to work under difficult circumstances. Both sides in the conflict wanted journalists to favor them in their writing/ reports. The Maoists invited them to report their activities and not accepting the invitation would attract their wrath. Accepting the Maoists invitation and writing stories would also mean inviting questions from the security forces. Many other journalists had to endure ill treatment and torture by the security forces. Over one hundred journalists were detained and questioned during the state of emergency and many were victimised because they had written about the Maoists or had singled out government excesses. The government shut down the pro-Maoists papers and arrested those that worked their immediately after the imposition of the state of emergency. The Maoists also threatened and attacked, and even killed journalists.
58. Schoolteachers. Teachers in Nepal have a long history of association with underground politics; as they supported the parties before democracy and had been the only educated people that have remained in the villages after the outbreak of the conflict. They were targeted in the past and more after 1996, when they had to suffer at the hands of both sides in the conflict. Over 150 teachers had been killed between 1996 and January 2004, most of them by the Maoists. Those that have been spared were required to make monthly donations to the rebels. The security forces also arrested and interrogated teachers because of their involvement in politics.
59.Landowners/Moneylenders. Large landowners and local moneylenders were among the Maoist “class enemies”, more likely to be attacked. Some of the landowners kicked were those that did own land but were in real economic terms only subsistence farmers. The Maoists also targeted ordinary households that did not donate for their cause by labeling them as “feudal”. There is no basis for classifying someone as a feudal, which was done by the local Maoist committee. Some time the local committee members decided to take action against anyone to settle their personal accounts, and even in such cases, the victims were labeled as “feudal”.
60.Family of Maoists or Security Personnel. The Maoists targeted and attacked families whose members were in the security forces. In return the security forces also harassed families, which had members in the rebel ranks. The Maoists harassed the family of the security forces to either call their sons/husbands back to the village by quitting the job or join the Maoist. At times there were incidents where the Maoist even took the families of the security force as the human shields during their attack at the security forces camp.
61. The Nepalese government's counter insurgency measures were largely effective in containing insurgents through military/security measures. It was so because of the existing chronic political instability caused by weak leadership and pursuit of self interest resulting in frequent changes in government, which contributed for inconsistent and inappropriate counter insurgency policy throughout. Being a developing nation, there were shortages of resources; shortages could have been augmented and mobilized judiciously given a government's stability, political vision, and common approach. The initial counterinsurgency approach was an ad hoc law and order, which was late and incorrect against the protracted nature of insurgency. The law and order approach lacked long term consideration of military/security, political, and socioeconomic aspects of insurgency. When the government decided to begin ISDP along with counter insurgency combat/security operations, the insurgency was already mature. To implement ISDP program effectively, the government would require adequate financial and human resource, as well as viable socio-economic and political strategy. Security forces operations were effective to put pressure on the insurgents, but when political instability occurred they lacked popular support, consistent momentum, and strategic guidance.
62. The Nepalese society therefore underwent massive upheaval during and after the insurgency. Even though the peace process is yet to culminate, but society as a whole is quite confident that the storm is behind them now. The society will never be the same again. As the old saying goes, end of one conflict gives rise to hundred more, likewise the Nepalese society is currently experiencing more difficulties in terms of inflation, rise in crime rate and even violence. The plains of Nepal and some portion of hills, are witnessing some form of armed resurrection at this juncture. But more of these are in the form of criminal outfits. If we analyze the political aspect, who could have thought that the former rebels would emerge as the largest political party of the Constitutional Assembly elections held in 2007. The major political parties, the Nepali Congress and United Marxist Leninist if combined could not match the strength of the Maoist. The transformation of the Himalayan Kingdom into a republic also suggests the same.
63. If we analyze the economic aspect, the rich are getting richer where as poor are getting poorer. The closure of big industries and multinational companies withdrawing paint a bleak economic future for Nepal for coming years. But the good news is that, declining tourism is slowly reviving once again. Looking at the security aspect of the Nepalese, this is currently at all time low. The lack of law and order situation and corruption suggests, fear of Nepal being declared a failed state by the international community. Once considered as a close knit society, that too is falling apart. Issues of racism, religion, caste and gender is becoming rampant, leading to demonstrations, agitations and closures.
64. The question that all of the Nepalese society is now asking is that, where do we go from here? How much more change can we digest? Are we a failing or a failed nation? Therefore the researcher would like to conclude that the new millennium has ushered in a change, in all geo-political aspect of this world and we are also very much a part of it now. The Nepalese society will never be what it was a decade ago. But is that change is for good or worse, only time can tell.
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