KATHMANDU: Dev GC quit his studies in the eighth grade and left home in Gulmi to join the Maoist People’s War.
As a combatant in the People’s Liberation Army, he resided in the Fourth Division Cantonment for about five years and took Rs 2.5 lakh as voluntary retirement package from the state.
Dev GC, now 27, of Peepaldhara, Gulmi, is now more interested in caring for his family than in politics.
“We sacrificed for the betterment of people and the nation. Sometimes I look back, compare our goals with the current mess, and feel remorse,” said GC.
Many ex-PLA fighters who were discharged as minors or took voluntary retirement share GC’s feeling.
These days, GC sells momos and noodles from a push cart along with his ex-PLA minor wife Tara Khanal at Bankatta (Paruwa, Rupandehi) section of the East-West Highway.
Tara and GC fell in love while living in the cantonment. They got married four years ago and have a two-and-half-year-old son. “My focus is to ensure his future,” says GC. “We came here to give him education so that he will not do what we did.”
GC and Tara earn Rs 1,000 a day on average and up to Rs 2,500 in local Haat (market day) thanks to the UN Interagency Rehabilitation Programme, which trained Tara and provided them the push cart and other cooking accessories worth up to Rs. 50,000 under its Micro Enterprise Development scheme for discharged ex-PLA minors. This help was part of UNIRP support programme through counselling, training and education to facilitate their return to civilian life.
Like the GC couple, Sikandar Chaudhari of Amuwa-7, Rupandehi, also discharged with the ‘minor’ tag from the cantonment has no reason to look back on the struggle with a sense of satisfaction.
“Now, the political scenario makes me think we were used to fulfil leaders’ ambitions,” said Chaudhari, who for last one-and-half-year has been operating a fresh house at Kanari Chowk with the help of UNIRP scheme. Chaudhari supplies chicken to cold stores in Butwal and Bhairahawa. His seven-member family is doing well.
His father Mangal Chaudhari said, the Mohan Baidhya-led CPN-M had approached his son to join the party, but he responded unenthusiastically. “I cannot change my past, but I am sure I will now not be involved in the politics of guns,” Chaudhari said.
Mainya Rai (29) of Khanikhola, Dhading, who now owns a mobile-shop at Sarada Nagar Chitwan, is also unenthusiastic. But, Buddhi Chaudhari of Rudrapur-5, Rupandehi says he will join Maoist politics if the party approaches him. Buddhi quit Nepali Army to join PLA in 2002, before being discharged as minor in January 2010.