Turn Nepal colleges into barracks, Maoist chief asks studentsBy Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Saturday, December 11, 2010
KATHMANDU - Undeterred by his party’s failure to turn Nepal into a military state constitutionally, Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal is now urging all students to become “troops” and turn all universities and colleges into barracks.
Dahal, who refuses to drop his war name Prachanda - Hindi word meaning “awesome” - though his party signed a peace agreement four years ago, made a rabble-rousing speech at the inauguration of a convention of the Maoists’ student organisation Friday, raising the spectre of another armed revolution.
More than a year after the fall of his government last year and his failure to return to power despite taking part in nearly a dozen prime ministerial elections, Prachanda has continued to blame reactionaries, conspirators and a domineering India for the debacles, and has continued exhortations for another armed revolt.
“If reactionaries’ conspiracy against Nepali people’s political aspirations deepens, all campuses and universities countrywide should be turned into military barracks and all students into troops to strike a final blow and take the Nepali revolution to its conclusion,” the 56-year-old said at Kirtipur, before a crowd of thousands.
The rhetoric of aggression comes even as Nepal’s ruling parties this month opposed the Maoist proposal to make the new constitution - scheduled to be ready in May 2011 - prescribe compulsory military training for all citizens above 18.
The largest party in the ruling alliance, the Nepali Congress, said instead of arms training, the focus should be on economic and skill development.
Prachanda’s call for turning colleges into barracks comes as the Maoists’ guerrilla force, the People’s Liberation Army, is causing mounting international concern and posing a serious hazard to the new constitution and peace process.
Nearly 20,000 fighters, barracked in 28 cantonments under UN supervision since the end of the “People’s War” in 2006, are yet to be discharged though the Maoists had pledged to do so within six months of signing the peace agreement.
Now they are using the fighters as a bargaining chip, refusing to disband them till the ruling parties make way for a new government under Prachanda.
This week, a concerned UN Security Council, that has said it will pull out its watchdog from Jan 15, urged the parties to work in a spirit of compromise so that the outstanding issues in the peace process could be resolved.
These include resolving the future of the Nepal Army and the Maoist fighters, both of whom remain under UN supervision.