T h e

K a s h m i r

T  e  l  e  g  r  a  p  h

Inaugural Edition

A Kashmir Bachao Andolan Publication

May 2002

 

I N S I D E

Spotlight    Chalmers Johnson

Editorial

Special Report Sundeep Waslekar Ilmas Futehally

Fundamentals Jagan Kaul

Book Review Romeet Watt

InsideTrack          Dr Subash Kapila

Himalayan Blunder              Romeet Watt

In Black & White An Assessment

Statecraft             S a p r a   says

Bottomline           Dr Subash Kapila

 


A b o u t  U s

F e e d b a c k

D i s c l a i m er

C o p y r i g h t s

 

 T H E   H I M A L A Y A N   B L U N D E R

 

N E P A L:  Red  Flag  Flying

By Romeet Kaul Watt


Clubbed between two Asian powers, India and China, Nepal has been undergoing the worst political upheaval in its history. Largely supported "People's Movement" in 1990 paved the way for the establishment of a constitutional democratic system but for the past six-years the Himalayan nation has been unable to contain Maoist insurgency. Media reports suggest that more than 4500 people have lost their lives: Maoist attacks, police and army actions are the order of the day; more than half of the kingdom has been reeling under the spat of violent activities. There is growing evidence that the Maoist activities seem to be extensive with large armies of rebels attacking the army and police posts. Commenting on the motivation and ideology, Chitra K Tiwari, strategic analyst, says: “The movement feeds on poverty, discontent with repressive policies, and corruption. The highly confrontational character of the country's mainstream politics has been a weak counterweight. The outlook is for continued unrest, with potential danger to American organizations and to the security of neighboring parts of India.”

 

The roots of the communist movement in Nepal can be traced back to 1949 when the Communist Party of Nepal was founded under the leadership of late Pushpa Lal Shrestha who emerged as an academic resistance to Nepali Congress. The Maoist movement has emerged in the background of this history of Nepal’s communist movement.  On 12 February 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) or shortly CPN-Maoist started its so-called "people’s war" (jana yuddha) to cause the collapse of state power, it called reactionary, and to institute a new people’s republic.  

 

The CPN-Maoist is one of several splinter groups of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) that believes in the ideals of Chinese Cultural Revolution as it is represented nowadays by the Revolutionary International Movement (RIM). The CPN-Maoist came to birth when the political wing of Nepal’s radical left parties, the Samyukta Jana Morcha Nepal (SJMN) or United People’s Front Nepal, split in late 1993. At that time, the SJMN had been the third strongest force in the Pratinidhi Sabha (House of Representatives) with 9 MPs.The splinter groups around Pushpa Kamal Dahal, better known as Comrade Prachanda, now called itself CPN-Maoist.

  

Their (Maoist) goals are to overthrow the bureaucrat-capitalist class and state system, which are dependent on and serve imperialism; uproot semi-feudalism; and drive out imperialism. To do this, the CPN (Maoist) is applying Mao’s strategy of a protracted people’s war — establishing base areas in the countryside and aiming to surround the cities, seize nationwide power, and establish a new democratic republic as a step toward building a new socialist society. Their struggle is part of the world proletarian revolution. 

 

These forces have ideologically integrated with their counterfoils in the communist world and also with the strong Marxist-Leninist Diaspora in Latin America and India. The Maoist communist Revolutionaries from Peru, Philippines and India (Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar) are linked with the Revolutionary Internationalists Movement (RIM), which is preparing the ground for the ultimate coming together of the Communist Revolutionaries throughout the world. The revolutionary Internationalist Movement is the developing center of the world unadulterated communist forces and its struggling for the formation of a Communist International, a new type based on Marxist-Leninist-Maoism. It is believed that they have more than fraternal links with the Maoist Communist Center (MCC), which operates in the Indian States of Bihar and the PWG in Andhra Pradesh.

 

Inside sources revel that the Maoist leadership is hiding in India. It is also no secret that India’s Maoist groups acquire weapons for the Nepali rebels, make available them safe houses in Indian Territory and have trained them in the use of explosives and landmines. Such acknowledgement — open or otherwise — has little or no importance unless it ultimately leads to taking apart of the much-talked about nexus between Nepalese Maoists and Indian extremist groups such as the Naxalites, ULFA or the People’s Power Group. In an indirect way, the Nepali army is already fighting what can be called a cross-border war.

 

Washington does not have major interests in Nepal, but analyst believe that it will be indirectly affected by increased volatility in India's northeast, bordering on China. It will also be concerned about the likely deterioration in the human rights situation. The most instantaneous U.S. concern, however, will be the security threat to its organizations and citizens. Michael E. Malinowski US Ambassador to Nepal says that Maoism or so called people's war are fundamentally the same as terrorists elsewhere—be the members of the Shining Path, Abu Sayaf, the Khmer Rouge or Al Qaida. They according to him are radicals who seek to impose their narrow views and beliefs on others, despite the popular will of those they seek to influence or convert.

 

Nepal, in the past, has left no stone unturned to maintain an evenhanded relationship between India and China. It has very close trade and industry links with India, and there is considerable movement of people across their permeable border. India has by tradition observed Nepal's stability as an important component in its own security, and has reacted sharply to any military connection between Nepal and China. Observers point out that the worst Indo-Nepal crisis in modern history arose out of the harsh Indian reaction to reports of a military sales agreement between Nepal and China.

 

India has traditionally has had an upper hand due to the manifold potential pressure points on Nepal. These, analyst believe, include the security provisions of the 1950 Treaty of Friendship, under which New Delhi can act in response to Kathmandu's request for military help, and Nepal's reliance on India for import and export transfer. India's best strategy, says a strategic analyst, may be the one it has already begun: strengthening border defense and dealing with its own insurgencies. “Because China's policy will probably be driven by India's, India should seek to avoid sharp reaction that could spark greater Chinese involvement,” he further says.

 

China always has had special interest in Nepal for it has served as the transit point for Tibetan refugees headed for India, most importantly including the Karmappa Lama, granted asylum by India. Observers feel that China's main apprehension is the probable use of Nepal as a safe haven by the Free Tibet movement. Kavre, Dolakha and Sidhupalchok districts, hotbeds of Maoist insurgency are along the 120-kilometer Araniko main road connecting Nepal and China, built in the 1960s with Chinese help despite India's protestation. Analyst also point out that there is at present no substantiation of official Chinese support for the Nepalese Maoists, although an surge in Tibetan activities in Nepal could make the Maoists a attractive tool for retribution.

 

A senior political scientist observes: “Maoist insurgency has survived six-year period and continues to enter into news phases is in itself a clear indication that the movement is no longer a temporary phenomenon without social bases.”  Insiders believe that the bureaucratic approach of viewing Maoist movement as an “activity of individual killing and pure terrorism” has not helped to resolve the problem. 

When the movement began they believed in extortion and as they started expanding they started to be more sophisticated. Letters were sent to businessmen and contractors to donate money and later they made it mandatory that teacher, civil servants, contractors and other professionals living in the villages to pay a certain amount of money to the Maoist administration as revenue.

 

However the insurgents have lately established themselves in the urban areas. The Maoists have reportedly, been engaged in mobilising their workers to help the local people for various construction and developmental works. Reports emanating form Nepal suggest that they help the villagers in crop plantations and harvesting and also in cleaning to influence and gain support. The Maoist System of governance is based on equal access to resources and equal regents for all. They have according to media reports set up "People's Courts" which looks into cases & giving verdicts, suggesting local commanders to take judicial action. The Maoist insurgents, many believe have lot of popular support in the villages as they reel under poverty and unemployment.

 

Another notable attribute of Maoist movement is the degree of women’s partaking in guerrilla ranks.  Women’s political involvement in the past had been limited to electoral areas, particularly, in voting and occasional candidacy in elections.  It is as a big surprise to observers that Nepali women have joined guerrilla organization. According to an estimate about 35% of Maoist guerrillas comprise of women, a new phenomenon that has emerged in Nepal.

 

Despite the extension of the state of emergency, the Nepali state forces have not been able to do irreparable damage to the insurgents. Sometimes it is delay in the arrival of reinforcements. Sometimes it is lack of coordination between army and police. Most of the time it is poor communications and awful intelligence; areas where they have goofed. The government apparently continues to treat the intelligence service and other pressing security issues with some disdain. This, according to many observers is dangerous. Political analyst observers: “The state of emergency is in itself no magic wand. It needs to be supplemented by good intelligence and good tactics. It is also a breathing spell that should be used to take a hard look at dialogue.”

 

Nepali strategic planners have failed to evolve a strategy by which people would stop giving sanctuaries to guerrillas.  This, observers point out, could have been done by means of substantial economic development package to people in the initial stages of uprising.  Media reports also indicate that the reprieve package that the government has allocated after so much of killings has become irrelevant. Counter-insurgency actions necessitate civil-military harmonization in which clean civil administrators are expected to disburse economic development package. Strategic analyst observes: “Nepal’s problem is not the Maoist war but an entrenched coalition of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats that profits from Maoist war.  It is very much likely that the economic relief package announced to combat insurgency could be yet another opportunity to corrupt civilian as well as military authorities for embezzlement.” He further says that the Counter-insurgency measure, if applied and executed by clean hands, will help minimize the distribution crisis, which in turn, will help to neutralize popular support to guerrillas.  Otherwise, many believe, it remains a protracted problem and there is no way to obstruct Maoist revolution.  The government forces, under the present policies, could win couple of battles here and there but will never win the war.

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