Down, but not out

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of schoolteacher Muktinath Adhikari by the Maoists in Lamjung district during the peak of the insurgency — for immediately not agreeing to donate 25% of his salary to their cause.

 “But even after two decades, there has been no justice. The perpetrators were never caught. If this is the condition of such a high profile war crime, imagine what it is like for others who are not as well known,” wrote Muktinath’s daughter Sabita Adhikari this week in an opinion piece.

Excerpts from a report about the Maoist attack on Kapurkot in Salyan district from issue #77 18-24 January 2022 20 years ago this week:

As they usually do, the Maoists attacked in a human wave. Not all of them were armed, and while preparing for the attack they chanted slogans, sang revolutionary songs and beat drums. They were hit by withering fire from army sentries on the hill. When a comrade was hit, an unarmed Maoist cadre would take up his weapon. In these remote mid-western hills, such tactics used to terrify locals, and the consequent fear was overwhelming. It is a measure of the Maoists’ earlier confidence that they made no secret of an impending attack. Still, a demoralised police either abandoned their posts or cowered with their World War I vintage 303 rifles waiting for the devastating attacks. 

The tables have now turned. Such psy-war tactics are not as effective with the Royal Nepal Army, and the Maoists have not been able to overrun a single army base after the surprise attack on the Ghorahi garrison on 23 November. As in Salleri on 26 November, the Maoists suffered heavy casualties in Kapurkot. 

For ordinary people, life is hard as always but made harder by the fighting. Bhim Bahadur Magar walked nine hours from his home village to Libang to make his citizenship card. While waiting, he chatted with us in a tea shop. “There is no future here. I’m going to the Gulf to work. Earlier it was the police harassing us, these days it is Maoists,” he said. “Now that the army is here, the situation has improved. But the army can’t be everywhere at the same time.” 

From archives material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com

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