GYAN P NEUPANE
KATHMANDU, May 14: UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said that he and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba should be jailed first if insurgency-era cases are to be pursued to punish Maoist combatants for acts carried out during the course of the 10-year insurgency.
Dahal, who repeatedly referred to human rights activists during his speech without naming any of them, accused a group of rights activists of dragging the insurgency-era cases into controversy.
“If cases are to be filed against Maoist combatants in contravention of the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), then I and Sher Bahadur Deuba should be jailed first because at the time I was commander of the Maoist combatants while Deuba was prime minister of the country,” said Dahal at an interaction organized jointly by members of five Maoist parties, here on Friday. “I am chiefly responsible for all that happened from our side during the war period. And Deuba is responsible for the entirety of the problems that people faced from the state side. That’s why we both are mainly responsible.”
Dahal’s statement has come at a time when rights bodies and activists have launched strong protests against the nine-point agreement reached between the two major ruling coalition partners CPN-UML and UCPN (Maoist). Under one of the points in the deal, the two sides agreed to initiate procedures for the withdrawal or amnestying of some cases from the insurgency period and other ‘politically-motivated’ cases filed on various occasions.
The Maoists have been claiming that the then rebel Maoists and the erstwhile government, while signing the CPA in 2006, envisioned the settlement of insurgency-era cases on the basis of a reconciliation approach and that there was no point raising conflict-related issues at this time.
“As I am the one who is mainly and directly accountable for all the conflict-related cases, jail me first if anyone wants to punish the Maoists. The other combatants should be jailed only after that,” Dahal said. With Dahal repeatedly assuring his cadres he would go to jail before any of the combatants did, the Rastriya Sabhagriha Hall, which was jam-packed with hundreds of former Maoist combatants and other party workers, clapped and shouted in support.
Dahal also claimed that these complex issues can be resolved on the basis of political consensus and that was the right way to move ahead. “This is the time to change society through political consensus but not to reopen old wounds and become entangled in further complications. But those who never want to see our national unity becoming stronger always wish to foil such efforts,” he further said.
Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal Revolutionary Mohan Baidhya, who formed his party after splitting from the UCPN (Maoist), also stressed the need to resolve such cases through political consensus.
Baidhya challenged the rights activists, saying that the Maoists would not remain mute spectators if injustice was done to the ex-Maoist combatants. He claimed that the combatants fought for the cause of revolution during the insurgency.
“Insurgency-related cases should be withdrawn, and before that we need to reach a political agreement based on consensus among all major political parties,” Baidya said.
Mukti Pradhan of Naya Shakti, which is led by former Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai, said that the human rights activists were unnecessarily politicizing the insurgency-era cases .
Human rights activist Charan Prasai said that Nepal has become established internationally as a country where people get disappeared involuntarily. He underscored the need of resolving such issues through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission on Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP).
As leaders from all the five Maoist parties gathered at the same podium, some representatives pressed the top party leaders to reunify the parties so that they could fight against “any conspiracy to land them in trouble through the revival of insurgency-era cases”.
First appeared in Republica national daily