KATHMANDU: The process to integrate Maoist fighters into the Nepali Army has stayed on Thursday also.
Registration process commenced on Wednesday only in three cantonments.
But today, combatants in all cantonments have started to fill application forms for the process.
"Physical tests, including a candidate’s height, chest and weight examination, and health check-ups will begin today,” said Brig Gen Ramindra Chhetri, Spokesman for the Nepali Army.
“Members of the selection committee and army officers are supervising the process,” he added.
A total of 3,123 former Maoist fighters have shown interest to join the national army.
As per the past pact, they will be lodged under a new directorate which is yet to be formed under the Nepal Army.
The selection process for the officer level will be held at the NA´s Training Center in Bharatpur and the Shaktikhor-based PLA cantonment.
Integration of PLAs begins amid protests
Selection process of the Maoist fighters opting for integration into the Nepali Army could not commence at Ilam’s Chulachuli-based PLA First Division on Wednesday. A five-member Nepali Army team led by Lieutenant Colonel Sushil Kumar Karki has been deployed at the First Division for the selection process. Maoist combatants had denied taking part in the process after the differences surfaced over the combatant’s age and educational qualification.
Nepali Army team, however, claimed that the process to register application form had begun.
Lakham Rai, an ex-fighter who has opted for integration, accused the Nepali Army of trying to recruit the combatants in normal way breaching the past agreements and understandings.
“The recruitment process is not acceptable as Army is counting the present age as basis for integration not the one verified by the UNMIN,” Rai added.
Rai said that he had boycotted the application registration process following the new stand taken by the Nepali Army.
Many Maoist combatants stood queue with photographs, citizenship certificate and educational qualifications for the selection process. One combatant at the PLA First Division Padam Rai complained that Nepali Army had humiliated fighters who had fought for ten years.
Altogether 275 Maoist fighters from PLA First Division, satellite camps Danabari ILam and Morang’s Yangsila have opted for integration into NA. Some of the fighters who opted for integration earlier said that they were all set to choose the voluntary retirement.
Integration work could not begin at Rolpa’s Dahaban-based PLA Fifth Division as well. The division said that selection work didn’t start due to late arrival of selection team and unfavorable weather condition.
Most fighters at the Fifth Division are mentally prepared to choose for voluntary retirement after the split of the UCPN-Maoist.
Company commander Nabin Lochan said that most of the fighters who opted for integration in the first place now wanted to go for voluntary retirement. He said that many combatants gone on home leave have returned with mentality of choosing voluntary retirement.
One fighter said that he would opt for voluntary retirement and would live a normal life abandoning politics. According to Lochan, split in the party has frustrated the fighters.
Altogether, 523 combatants have opted for integration from PLA Fifth Division. Recruitment process of the Maoist fighters into NA began at Chitawan’s Saktikhor-based PLA Third Division today after 3 pm.
A 20-member Nepali Army team has been dispatched for selection process at Saktikhor. Major Generals Baldev Mahat and Surendra Bahadur Mahat returned to the Capital after giving necessary instruction to the NA team.
Colonel Prakash Kumar KC said that work to collect application forms had begun. “This is like new recruitment in the NA. The process to collect application forms has begun”, KC added.
According to KC, for the officers’ levels, first phase of the test would be held in Saktikhor and second phase of the test would be held in Shunmser Dal Gan Bharatpur. But, all the tests for other posts would be held at Saktikhor itself.
Dhan Bahadur Maskey, former division commander of the Third Division said that recruitment process was a milestone in the peace process.
Most of the fighters at the Third Division have been preparing to go for voluntary retirement objecting the selection process. Former Company commander Shankar Yadav expressed his displeasure after he could not register his application due to age.
NA team had returned him saying that he was underage though the UNMIN had qualified him for verification. Yadav said that many fighters would be deprived of the integration if the NA did not consider the age verified by the UNMIN.
Former company commander Shiva Thapa could not register the application forms due to her age. She is now compelled to opt for voluntary retirement.
A total of 626 Maoist fighters have opted for integration into NA and living inside Third Division.
Maoist fighters’ recruitment process started at Nawalparasi-based Fourth Division on Wednesday. Similarly, selection of 315 fighters would be conducted at Kailali’s Talband.