Team completes visits to cantonment sites

Kailali/Surkhet, November 14:

The joint team of the government, the Maoists, the UN representatives today completed inspection visits of the proposed cantonment sites for the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in all the seven districts.

The team members said a tripartite meeting tomorrow will finalise the cantonment sites.

After visiting Kailali’s Masuriya VDC-2 today, Minister of State for Labour and Transport Management and a member of the government talks team, Ramesh Lekhak, told this daily: “We have completed inspection visits of the proposed cantonment sites. A joint meeting of the government, the Maoists and the UN representatives tomorrow will finalise cantonment sites.” Except Ilam’s Kamaljhoda, six other sites are yet to be finalised, he added.

The seven-party alliance and the Maoists have agreed to set up seven cantonment sites in Kavre, Ilam, Sindhuli, Palpa, Kailali, Surkhet and Rolpa. Three sub-cantonments will be set up close to the main cantonment sites. “The cantonment sites should be reachable by road, should have facilities like drinking water, electricity and communication. These are the basic factors determining the selection of cantonment sites,” Lekhak said.

Jan Eric Wilhemson, military expert of the United Nations, which is responsible for the management of Maoists’ PLA and their arms, acquired information about the sites from the Maoist commanders.

The Seventh Division commander Uddhav and division commander Prajjwal proposed to the joint team to make Talband the main cantonment site for their 2,500-strong militia while Dorando, Masuriya and Sahajpur as sub-cantonment sites.

Maoists’ deputy commanders Prabhakar and Pasang, who accompanied the team to the site, said the PLA personnel will have gone to the camps by November 21 as per the agreement between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists. “All the sites we have proposed are suitable,” Prabhakar said.

The joint team inspected the proposed main cantonment site in Surkhet’s Dashrathpur region. It covers the land of Agriculture Research Centre while more than 600 bighas of land is cultivable.

Commander of the Maoists’ Sixth Division Pratik said sub- cantonment sites will be located in Lekhfarsa, Kalyan and Gamkhola of the district. “There is no problem in the selection of cantonment sites,” minister Lekhak said.

Time for jest

Talbanda (Kailali): The members of the joint team who arrived at Kailali’s Talbanda for inspection of the Maoists’ temporary camps on Tuesday, found time for humour.

Jan Eric Wilhemson, military advisor to Ian Martin, personal representative of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asked the Maoists to build a guest house for him at Talbanda. Impressed with the scenic beauty and jungles around the area, he told the Maoists’ deputy commander Pasang, “Please make a guest house for my stay here.” In reply, Pasang said, “Sure, if you wish to stay here.”

Away from the colleagues, he also went closer to the locals and said in jest, “Was here helicopter landing ever before prior to this?,” and locals replied, “No, never before.” Then Wilhemson said, “Don’t worry, from now on, you will have it almost everyday.”

Not only Wilhemson, Nepal Army’s Brigadier General Shivram Pradhan and Maoists’ deputy commander Janardan Sharma ‘Prabhakar’ were equally hilarious. Prabhakar proposed Pradhan to be legislator while Pradhan amusingly replied that the proposal came to him at a time when the voting rights itself is not guaranteed for them.

At this, another deputy commander Pasang assured Brigadier General Pradhan that they would work for guaranteeing that rights. Civilian police AIG Amar Singh Shah and APF DIG Koshore Lama who were closely sitting were smiling at their conversation. The

atmosphere was exciting till the joint team returned from the site. — HNS