TIKA R PRADHAN
KATHMANDU: Former Maoist fighters appeared in fighting mode today during the ongoing plenum of the Unified CPN-Maoist to demand a probe into the embezzlement of funds collected from them and forced the party leadership to postpone the meeting until tomorrow.
The former combatants during the second session of the seventh plenum today took over the rostrum, lay themselves before the leaders and shouted slogans demanding immediate action against the commanders responsible for financial misappropriation. They gained control of the microphone and Saral Sahayatri, a former fighter, read out their 11-point demand and others addressed the meeting in turn.
Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal then said the fighters’ demands were genuine. “The party must address their demands if the party were to be taken forward in a strong manner,” added Dahal as he hailed the combatants’ contribution to the party and the country. “The country has been able to see the change because of your selfless dedication,” Dahal placated the fighters before announcing that today’s meeting was postponed until 11:00am tomorrow. Dahal told the combatants that he had directed the commanders to furnish financial reports to the headquarters but they had failed to do so. But Dahal promised that the fighters’ concerns would be addressed during tomorrow’s meeting.
Some participants said Dahal would at the most announce a probe committee tomorrow to resume the meeting but would never address the fighters’ woes as ‘the commanders have already told the chairman that they have handed over the funds to the headquarters’.
Even during party’s sixth plenum in Palungtar, Gorkha, the leadership had a tough time when they were charged with financial irregularities.
Some other demands of the combatants and YCL members include respectable integration into the Nepali Army, financial reports of all the cantonments, status of Rs 5 crore invested in Jana Maitri Hospital, end of factional politics in party and life-long food and shelter facilities for the injured and disabled fighters. They have also urged the leadership to call back the combatants who have opted for integration and ask them to take voluntary retirement if they have to go through army-prescribed tests to join the army.
According to the former combatants, the party had collected Rs 1,000 a month from each combatant and salary of all those who had left the camps, that amounted to millions of rupees. “But we have been kept in dark as to how and where the money was used,” said the fighters.