SURYA PRAKASH KANDEL
NARAYANGADH: The process to integrate former Maoist fighters into the Nepali Army has begun with government-assigned teams doing the paper works like form distribution and registration.
The fighters then have to go through the tests prescribed by the army that include physical examinations like height and chest measurements, running and health check-ups. But the combatants seem to be unhappy with the criteria.
Saroj Titung, a former fighter at Third Division Camp in Shaktikhor, Chitwan, says there is no need to go through the tests. “We hand undergone army training during the war. We know how to hold guns. Why should we be made to go through chest measurement,” says Titung. “I will rather go for voluntary retirement if I have to go through physical tests like chest measurement,” adds Titung.
Dipesh Lama of Dhading was on leave and returned to the cantonment after knowing that integration process had begun. Lama says if tests like chest measurement are mandatory he will rather retire.
Most of the fighters who had chosen to join the army during the regrouping process carried out by government monitors are now looking at the army-set criteria for integration scornfully. They are of the view that the integration process should be made simple and easy without physical tests.
Jayram KC of Sindhupalchowk has been living in the cantonment waiting for the integration process to begin even though most of his friends had gone on leave. Now time has come when he can fulfil his long-cherished dream of serving in the national army, but the criteria is making him uneasy. KC says there should be a new agreement to revise the criteria so that fighters can do away with physical tests.
“We are fit and trained enough to join the army. There is no need to conduct these tests,” says KC. “If such examinations like chest and height measurement are to be done, there will be only 50 per cent fighters who will still want to join the army.”
More than 3,000 fighters are waiting at different cantonments to join the national force. In the Third Division Camp alone there are 626 fighters who want to join the army.
And there are other combatants who have been disqualified because they don’t meet the set criteria for age. Former company commander Shankar Yadav says he waited in queue the whole day yesterday but could not get himself registered because he was yet to attain 18 years of age.