From A World To Win

Nepal: People's War is Sinking Roots

Revolutionary Worker #950, March 29, 1998

On February 13, 1996 the oppressed people of Nepal took the first steps of a protracted people's war--led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). After an initial phase that effectively established the politics of armed struggle in Nepal, the CPN(M) began the Second Plan in the fall of 1996--with the aim of developing guerrilla warfare in a planned manner and preparing the ground to convert specific areas into guerrilla zones. Last year, the Party announced the conclusion of the Second Plan and the start of the next phase. The following excerpt from the current issue of the revolutionary internationalist magazine A World to Win (1998/23) gives an idea of how the people's war in Nepal is developing and sinking deep roots in this Himalayan country. We encourage our readers to check out this and other articles in A World to Win.

Developing the People's War

An important part of the Second Plan has been guerrilla raids against enemy armed forces. The proletariat and the people can only seize power by destroying the enemy's rule which is enforced through its army. In countries dominated by imperialism, the people's army can destroy the enemy's rule at first in parts of the countryside, win base areas and establish political power as the key to unleashing the masses and developing strength in preparation for seizing nationwide power in keeping with the strategy of surrounding the cities from the countryside. This is an uneven and protracted war, where the forces of the enemy have all the means of the state at their disposal and are armed to the teeth. But the army of revolution is armed with great courage and sacrifice stemming from a materialist understanding of the course of history, and it relies on the boundless initiative of the masses to overcome any obstacle. Most of the CPN(M)-led military actions so far have been carried out with home-made guns and bombs, khukhuris (traditional Nepali carved knives), work tools and sometimes even bare hands. But the revolutionaries also apply a policy of acquiring more modern weaponry. In late '96 and early '97, there were several attacks against police outposts, including in Lung in Pyuthan, Tribeni in Dolpa (both in the Western hills) and in Bethan.

Among these the Party has singled out the Bethan raid as the most successful and the best example so far in this newly budding war of a daring military exploit and supreme sacrifice. Bethan is a backward region in Ramechhap, in the Eastern hills of Nepal. In the dark of the night of 3 January 1997, a squad consisting of 29 guerrillas led by Comrade Tirtha Gautam held their lives in their hands and dared to attack a police outpost equipped with modern weaponry. Our comrades were armed only with home-made bombs and guns, but were filled with revolutionary enthusiasm and convinced that in a revolutionary war it is people not weapons that are decisive. After a pitched battle that lasted for several hours, they succeeded in overpowering the enemy. Two policemen were killed and two others seriously injured, and the guerrillas seized four rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Comrade Gautam and two other fighters (including a woman) lost their lives as their blood flowed to water the soil of revolution.

Another form of action is what the Party calls acts of sabotage. These include attacks (for example in Kabre and Baglun) against such targets as the Agricultural Development Banks which are a pillar of comprador and feudal domination in the countryside. During these attacks loan papers are often burned. Premises of NGOs and INGOs (International Non-Governmental Organizations) that play a role in perpetuating poverty in the countryside as well as premises of comprador capitalists have also been raided, and on some occasions weapons and grain have been seized. Such actions as burning the loan papers, apart from actually destroying the records of unjust and back-breaking loans, point towards the new class relations the Party is fighting for.

One form of military action has been the selective annihilation of local tyrants and other elements hated by the masses, among whom are informers as well as police officers responsible for the arrests and killings of comrades. For generations, the heavy burden of the caste system, feudal oppression and tradition have weighed heavily on the backs of the people. Now the time has come for the masses to have their say and throw their wrath upon those who personify and enforce these oppressive relations.

The revolutionaries also regularly organize armed propaganda in the form of torch processions and corner meetings (these are meetings held in neighbourhoods that disperse when the authorities come and then gather again in a different spot). In the course of all these actions the fighters always explain their politics to the masses, expose the enemy and call on people to join and help the revolution. The CPN(M) has several publications that appear regularly, but the distribution of leaflets, graffiti, posters and shouting slogans are other methods the Party uses to train the masses in revolutionary politics...

The State Responds

In response to the People's War, the state has unleashed frenzied terror on the masses. In areas where support for revolution in widespread, the police attack and arrest all the young men. As a result, young men have been forced to go into hiding in the nearby mountains and the women have taken over their part of production...

One atrocious example of state terrorism is the killings in Mirul, a small village in Rolpa inhabited by poor peasants of the Kham Magar oppressed nationality, and a stronghold of the CPN(M). On 17 November 1996 the armed police forces and goons from neighbouring areas descended on Mirul, ransacked the peasants' houses and took almost all the whole adult population into custody. After interrogation and threats, they released most, but five people were taken to nearby jungle and shot dead. Among these were a 70-year-old and a 65-year-old. The body of a young revolutionary woman was set on fire while she was still alive. In the coming weeks the oppression and killings continued. But emboldened by the ongoing People's War the people of Mirul did not submit quietly. They took it upon themselves to eliminate the enemy agents in the village and virtually seized the local power in their own hands, and in doing so they set a high example for other villages...

The People's War Advances

In May, the Party announced that the Second Plan was coming to a conclusion and the Party was preparing the initial stages of the third phase. The Party's assessment was that during the first stages of the People's War (First and Second Plans) the fighting ability of the Party had grown and the Party was developing a professional guerrilla force. The Third Plan started from 17 August under the slogan "Develop Guerrilla War to the Next Higher Stage." One of the aims of this third stage is to expand the areas of influence, especially to the Terai region. (This is the rice-growing southern plains where Nepal borders India; it is the most populated part of the country, with many inhabitants of Indian origin.) The mobilization against the [government's] proposed "anti-terrorist" act is also part of the Third Plan.

The activities of the guerrillas are mainly concentrated on the historic strongholds of the Party, mostly the mid-Western hills and some parts of the Eastern hills. Having consolidated some of its bases and in response to the enthusiasm expressed by the masses in other areas to join the People's War, the Party is set to expand to new areas. One example is given in a report printed in the pro-people Janadesh Weekly, July '97, from Dang, in Rapti zone, an area of extreme polarization where Maoist activity is spreading gradually. This was an area of peasant uprisings in the '60s where the movement was defeated because of a wrong line. This area is inhabited by people of the Tharu nationality who are exploited by one big landlord (who is also a leading person in the Nepal Congress Party). Guerrillas took over the local market where they made speeches telling people about the People's War and Maoism, called on them to support the revolution and asked for donations from villagers. Many people, including small shopkeepers, donated willingly. During this action the guerrillas also set the landlord's house on fire (landlords typically live in the capital so he wasn't there). Stung by this, the reactionaries retaliated by harassing the masses for their support for the guerrillas.

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