February 13, 2001--5 Years of People's War
People's War in Nepal:
Report from the Battlefield
Part 1: New People's Power
From The Worker
Revolutionary Worker #1088, January 28, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
February 2001 marks the 5th anniversary of the initiation of the People's War in Nepal.
On February 13, 1996, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), armed raids and attacks involving thousands of men and women announced the beginning of a new Maoist People's War, aimed at sweeping away imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. 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.
In five years, the People's War in Nepal has made great advances--building a people's army and dealing the reactionary government serious military defeats, digging deep roots among the masses, and mobilizing peasants, women, students and others into revolutionary forms of organization. In huge parts of the country--especially in the Rolpa and Rukum districts in the Western Region-- reactionary oppressors, government authorities, and police have been run out, creating a power vacuum. In such areas, according to the CPN (Maoist), two million people are beginning to exercise a new people's power.
The following is the first part of "Report From the Battlefield," an article from the October 2000 issue of The Worker, a publication of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Slight changes have been made by the RW for clarity.
People's Committees Exercise Political Power
The current fifth year of the historic People's War (PW) has been marked by expansion and consolidation of a primary form of base areas in different parts of the country, in Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot and Salyan districts of Western region, where People's Committees are openly exercising political power. The detailed report given by leading newspaper journalists who had recently gone to Korchawang village (just three hours walking distance from Liwang, the District Headquarter of Rolpa district) where the local Party had given them an open invitation to attend a mammoth open rally on August 26, and a press conference the next day, has shocked the reactionary government. Now it is publicly known that the revolutionary People's committees have been functioning as embryonic New Democratic governments at local levels doing political, economic, social, cultural, educational activities and exercising coercive organs of power like people's armed forces, people's courts and people's jails (of course, mobile). All these developments should be seen in the light of the Party's call to advance in the direction of creating base areas since 1998.
During the Fifth and Sixth Plans, there have been qualitative leaps in both military and administrative formations in the prospective base areas. The expansion and consolidation of these temporary base areas into relatively stable base areas can only be possible with increased and improved military power of the people's armed forces.
It should be noted that a power vacuum was first created by driving away the local agents of the reactionary state and the destruction of its armed might, which were confined to the district headquarters alone. Taking advantage of such retreats, the revolutionary people's army has stormed into the few remaining police posts and destroyed them. This has intensified abandonment of police posts by the reactionary police forces in most of the villages. For example in Rolpa, the earlier presence of 39 police posts has been reduced to eight; in Rukum, the earlier presence of 28 police posts have been reduced to six; in Jajarkot, the earlier presence of 15 police posts have been reduced to six. Regular patrolling of villages has given way to air patrolling, occasional surprise raids and attacks on ground with concentrated police forces reinforced with special task forces. In fact in some of the police posts the situation has reached to such a stage that the policemen don't stay in their posts but take shelter in cornfields or neighboring villages after the dusk. They have even resorted to using ordinary villagers as human shields to save themselves from the attacks of the people's army. The recent death of eight civilians along with a considerable number of reactionary police forces in one of the major raids against the police force in Panchkatia village in Jajarkot district is one such example.
The low morale of the police force together with the success of raids and ambushes by People's armed forces has lead to many desertions among the rank and files of the government armed forces. There have been reports of [police] taking mass leaves or fleeing from the training camps. Just few months back 60 police personnel undergoing training in Pyuthan (an adjoining district to Rolpa) fled from the training camp. This year alone, about 83 police personnel were fined and eight inspectors were fined for refusing to go to the Western region and two inspectors tendered their resignation. To add fuel to this fire there has been an increasing number of clashes within the reactionary armed forces and a lot of misunderstanding taking place between armed forces and military forces of the reactionary government in the course of repressing the people's armed forces.
In contrast to this, the position of people's armed forces has been strengthening from one level to another. There has been mass scale recruitment in people's militias. The Party has had a tough time convincing minors below 18 years old to wait to join the people's army. Incidents of desertion from government police and military forces to join the people's armed forces have been taking place. Com. Ramesh from Rolpa is one such martyr who had left the Royal army to join the people's armed force. The people's guerrilla forces have now developed up to the company level. Often Special Task Forces are organized for major operations. In the Western region temporary company level formation of the people's guerrilla army have been functioning. Thus in some regions People's War has developed from guerrilla warfare to mobile warfare.
Today people's security arrangements within the prospective base areas have become so formidable that People's Committees are running their own mobile jails, labor camps, etc. For the first time detention of captured police personnel and corrupt administrative officials of the reactionary government has been used in retaliation of disappearances. The capture and detention of Thule Rai, a DSP from the reactionary government police force, for about three months and his safe release in exchange of Com. Dev. Gurung, a central leader of the Party, is one such example. Similarly Reg. Bahadur Subedi (an ex-minister) and his son were taken into people's custody and sent to labor camp for two months as a punishment for their anti-people's war activities. Similarly a district education officer of Rolpa is still serving in people's labor camp for his corruption related crimes.
Along with the destruction of the old reactionary power base, and its armed retreat, which is the principal aspect during the war period, People's Committees have taken a leap in construction activities as well. Today in the Western region, people's power is being exercised according to a Director of United People's Committees. This director specifies four levels of People's Committees such as sub-regional, district, village and ward levels. Village United People's Committees function as the main organ for running the administration. A village committee usually consists of three wards. A Ward Committee generally has 6-7 members. In this are included two members representing proletarians or working class, two or three members representing poor peasants, and one or two members from other petty bourgeois classes. In Village United People's committees there are usually 11 members. Earlier such committees were formed by general consensus of the masses in a mass meeting. Today, a full-fledged exercise of elections takes place to choose the committee members. What has alarmed the reactionary forces the most, is the participation in these elections by the rebel local cadres of parliamentary parties such as Nepali Congress, United Marxist-Leninist Party, Rastriya Prajatantra party, etc. The United People's Committees run different departments, such as administrative, economic, social and cultural, educational departments, etc.
Administrative department look after all sorts of litigation work, land, business, financial transactions and works related to the people's court etc. Minimum rates are charged for all sorts of transactions. Captured public land, properties and that of feudal lords and bureaucrats are turned over to people who work on them on a co-operative basis. Efforts are being made to give land titlement in women's name, which has greatly enthused women to be more productive in economic fronts.
In terms of economic work, the main thrust has been to be self-reliant by mobilizing local resources and labor forces. Community based cultivation, fodder and fire collections have been encouraged to instill community feelings amongst villagers and to save time for more productive work. New and more efficient forms of cultivation along with the introduction of new varieties of crops are being used giving higher yields. Cottage industries have been set up to cater to the needs of the masses, particularly for the people's armed forces, thus producing socks, gloves, sweaters, shawls, bed sheets, bags, etc. Also an indigenous paper making factory is producing paper for administrative and litigation works. Money pooled together through various activities and means have been used to run a mobile form of a banking system whereby temporary loans on low interest rate are given for funding small scale enterprises, projects, etc. Non-monitorial [non-money] funds such as "seed collection campaign," seasonal fund collections are also collected. Also a system of levying taxes on outgoing indigenous raw materials such as herbal plants, timber, rosin, turpentine, etc., has been developed. Poultry farming, animal husbandry or small-scale cottage industries are encouraged at the household level. In Rolpa, the women's organization has come up with an innovative ideal of "one unit, one production."
In the social field, sea changes are taking place challenging age-old feudal traditions. New cultural practices such as widow remarriage, inter-caste marriage, love marriage, divorce have replaced earlier oppressive marriages. Wife battering, liquor consumption, polygamy, gambling, eve teasing have been controlled. Similarly unscientific oppressive rituals like menstrual rituals, widowhood restrictions and taboos and celebrations have been greatly reduced. New cultural practices of celebrating May Day, March 8th International Working Women's Day, Martyr's Day, Marx, Lenin and Mao's Birthdays are taking root. The unemployed lumpen youths have found true meaning of life by joining the people's armed forces or running people's power or engaging in productive economic activities. Progressive cultural teams at the local level are imparting new progressive, anti-feudalist, anti-expansionist and anti-imperialist culture.
In education and health fields, adult literacy campaigns together with health and hygiene awareness campaigns have been launched. In the field of formal education, compulsory Sanskrit courses have been totally scrapped, so is the present national anthem song, which highlights the role of the Monarchy. All private schools have been completely banned in areas run by the United People's Committees. Instead all the government run schools are supervised by People's Committees, as a result both teachers and students are more punctual in their duties. Today the schools in these districts are better administered and are more progressive then schools outside these districts.
In terms of development works, United People's Committees have been mobilizing local resources and local masses for works such as construction or irrigation channels, water supply lines, bridges, roads, public buildings, and periodic repair of these things. Almost all the new roads constructed with the help of mass participation have been named after local martyrs. Today no NGOs [Non-Government Organizations] or INGOs [International Non-Government Organizations] are functioning in these areas. They have been thoroughly exposed and driven away. As a result of these developments, most of these local agents of the reactionary government, their families and other disillusioned people who had fled from their villages to district headquarters have started trickling back.
The correct application of the mass line in all these activities has broadened the mass base which has in turn bolstered the fire power of the people's armed forces. In the Western region in particular, there is a correct balance between military actions and mass work. With every success of armed action against the reactionary armed forces, there has been growth of mass activities; similarly with every success of mass activities, there have been favorable conditions created for armed assault against the reactionary government forces. As a result, this has given an opportunity to advance the PW to a higher level through subjective efforts.
However, it should be noted that although the question of new "construction" is often raised in the prospective base areas, the Party has resolutely cautioned the cadres and the masses that "destruction" of the old state (both militarily and non-militarily) would continue to be the principal aspect of the activities of the revolutionary forces for a long time.
To be continued
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