from The Worker
February 13, 2001--Five Years of People's War
People's War in Nepal:
Report from the Battlefield
Part 2: Women in the Revolution
Revolutionary Worker #1089, February 4, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
February 2001 marks the fifth 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 second part of "Report from the Battlefield," an article from the October 2000 issue ofThe Worker, a publication of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). (See RW #1088 for the first part of this article.) Slight changes have been made by the RW for clarity.
MILITARY ACTIONS TAKE A QUALITATIVE LEAP
The most significant aspect of the People's War in Nepal has been its relatively fast pace of development. As per the Party's policy of accelerating military capability and creating base areas there have been qualitatively higher levels of military actions during the Fifth Plan and Sixth Plan (i.e. from September 1999 onwards). Periodic "shock" programs of a countrywide nature has been taking place to mark the initiations of the Fifth Plan on 25 October last year, the anniversary of the initiation of the People's War on 13th February; the initiation of the Sixth Plan on 15th June; and special "shock" programs from 23-31st August this year in which all the four types of military actions e.g. guerrilla actions (raids and ambushes), sabotage, annihilation and propaganda actions were used. Regular platoons together with Special Task Forces (STF) have been participating in major armed operations in all the three regions. For the first time a higher military formation of using company level armed forces has been used in the Western region where the People's War has reached a relatively advanced level. Similarly kidnapping and detention has been used as a new form in retaliation of "disappearances."
In the Western region the Fifth Plan was launched by attacking the Mahat Village police post in Rukum as a form of retaliation against the enemy's "Jungle Search Operation." Platoon number one and two together with other guerrilla squads swooped on the enemy's striking force consisting of 28 heavily armed forces. After having captured the police post, 27 arms and a lot of ammunition were seized. Except for the DSP Thule Rai, all the rest of the surrendered police force were released. There was no loss on the side of the revolutionaries. Similarly in Takesara in Rukum, regular armed forces consisting of a temporary company made up of platoon number 1, 2, and 3, together with mass participation attacked three police posts, spread in five houses on April 6, 2000, to mark the celebration of mass-movement day. The concentrated enemy force consisting of 70 police together with two ambush teams were attacked, resulting in the death of eight policemen. Many of them were injured and all the five houses were razed to the ground. In this operation two comrades got martyred. From this operation 37 rifles, two pistols, together with 42 arms ammunitions, grenades and some important documents were seized. Similarly in Rara Lili in Jumla district an attack on the police post led to the capture of 21 rifles and other arms, leaving 11 enemy policemen dead. A section commander was martyred on the revolutionary side. According to the latest report on 24th September, a daredevil attack on the police post stationed in Dunnai, a district headquarter of Dolpa district, resulted in the killing of 14 police, leaving 40 of them injured. The people's armed forces numbering more than a hundred stormed into the district prison, freeing 17 prisoners, attacking and destroying the police district headquarters, the district administration office, the land registration office, etc. In the same vicinity, a Nepali Bank Ltd. was also raided, capturing around five croce of Nepalese currency. So far, this is the biggest armed strike on the reactionary forces, right at the heart of a district headquarter. The Home Minister, Govinda Raj Joshi and the head of the Police Force, Achut Raj Kharel were forced to resign over this incident.
In the Middle region, the emphasis has been on the ambush style of striking, because this region has comparatively heavy transportation networks. As a result more than a dozen police forces have been killed and many left wounded. A police post was attacked in Samari in Nuwakot district in January 2000. Three policemen were killed. Some rifles, ammunition together with bulletproof jackets were captured. From the revolutionary side a platoon commander was martyred in this operation. Similarly a police post in Harmi, in Gorkha district was attacked by a Special Task Force resulting in the capture of 10 rifles, four pistols and a large quantity of ammunition. A policeman was killed during the raid. There was no loss inflicted on the people's armed forces. On August 23, a police post in Dhawdi, VDC in Nawalparasi district was successfully raided, resulting in the capture of three 3-0-3 rifles, seven rifles and a large quantity of ammunition. One policeman was killed in the raid with no loss to the revolutionary forces. This was the first raid in this district and it was a completely successful one. Within the Kathmandu Valley various important places have been bombed. Prominent amongst them is a bomb thrown at Govinda Raj Joshi's house (at present, a Home Minister). Similarly the Mahendra police club which is located at the heart of the capital was attacked by a bomb, resulting in the collapse of its boundary wall. All these occurred within August 2000. According to the latest report, on 26th September, a daring attack on the Bhorletar police post in Lamjung district resulted in the killing of eight policemen, leaving three policemen injured. A nearby Agriculture Bank was also raided.
In the Eastern region, a police post in Mahavari VDC in Jhapa district was attacked and raided on 30th August resulting in the capture of all rifles and ammunition, consisting of five 3-0-3 rifles, one pair of Chinese pistols, 364 bullets. This is the first time that such a raid has been conducted in this Eastern most part of Nepal whose border adjoins with Eastern India. Similarly in Mrigaulia VDC in the Morang district, the ward forest office was raided on August 31, resulting in the capture of four 3-0-3 rifles and some ammunition. Similarly many successful sabotage actions were directed in Tehrathum, Khankuta, Sankhuwasava, Panchthar, Bhojpur districts in August 2000, to link such acts with the spirit of the Jhapa movement.
STORM OF WOMEN'S REBELLION ADVANCES FURTHER
Ever since the People's War was initiated in 1996, women's participation in the People's War has been increasing. This is despite the fact that they have been increasingly targeted by the state as can be judged by the increasing number of women being jailed, raped, tortured, killed and disappeared. As a result, an image of Nepalese women as helpless trafficked prostitutes caged in Indian metropolitan brothels has changed into an image of defiant fearless fighters.
Their multi-faceted participation in the People's War has greatly helped in sustaining the People's War. This can be seen in Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot and Salyan districts in the Western region of Nepal where their participation in embryonic People's Committees has been vital in sustaining and developing it. The impressive women's participation in these areas has even been reported by most of the leading newspaper journalists who had been invited by the Party's Western region to the new base areas. Above all, their participation at all levels of combat forces have been increasing. This can be judged by the presence of several women who had responded to join mass recruitment in the people's armed forces in Rolpa. They form a significant force within the people's militia forces, which function as a subsidiary force for the main combat forces. They have greatly helped in linking the bridge between the masses and the people's armed forces. This has immensely helped in militarizing people at the grassroots level. Thus, they function as ears and eyes for the people's armed forces. They are also fighting as combatants, commanders, vice-commanders in the people's armed forces at various levels such as squad, platoon, Special Task Force, and company.
Women constitute one of the important productive forces in building a self-reliant economy in these new People's Committees. Women's organizations in Rolpa have come up with an indigenous idea under the slogan, "One unit, one production." In order to expand the base of women's organization, a policy of one unit of women's organization for each ward, one member for each one family has been adopted and popularized. In Rolpa alone there are more than 2,500 such units functioning. Thus they are the most widely spread mass organization, even more than the peasants' mass organizations. Women as young as 18 to as old as 65 years old are in the women's organization. These units are engaged in cottage industries, producing socks, gloves, cloth, bags, etc. They are involved in collective farming, fodder and fuel collections, animal husbandry, poultry farming, etc. The process of giving land titlement [ownership] in women's names has increased their confidence. This has greatly increased their productive capacity. Thus everywhere women are seen in the forefront in productive work. They are also the main force in revolutionizing production relations in these temporary base areas. Since women are the worst victims of old feudal production relations, their active participation in bringing to the People's Court those culprits who have been usurping other's land, engaging in all forms of exploitation, has been vital for the smooth running of People's Committees and gaining the confidence of the masses. Family discord relating to gambling, drinking, womanizing, battering of women and children has been greatly reduced. With property disputes in cases of widows, separation from husband or in-laws, etc., women's organizations have been successful in politicizing family members by turning every family unit into a political unit by involving children in the children's organization, youth in youth organizations, peasants in peasant organizations.
There has been a sea change in social-cultural behavior too. Instead of fasting in the traditional "Teej" celebration for the long lasting life of husbands or to obtain handsome husbands, women have started feasting on this occasion to strengthen themselves against rape, torture and indiscriminate killings by the reactionary police force. They have defied the traditional ban against plowing fields and roofing houses. They are also gradually doing away with widowhood restriction, menstrual restrictions, witchcraft practices. Illiterate woman are now found taking a keen interest in adult literacy programs, they are listening to the radio to peep into the outer world. Woman are also organized within the four walls of prisons. Take the example of women in the central jail in Kathmandu. Here 12 women cadres from Kavre, Lalitpur, Jajarkot, Sindhuli and Gorka, have been lodged under various charges such as arms act, security acts, treason acts, etc. All of them have been lodged together in one room, isolated from the rest of other women prisoners. All of them have been subjected to mental and physical torture in police custody. Amongst them, three in particular have been raped by policemen.
Taking inspiration from the formation of United People's Committees in the Western region, they have organized themselves to form a jail united front. Using jail as a war trench, they have been fighting against the jail authorities. They have formed administration, education, supply and marketing, financial and health departments. Administration department looks after organizing prisoners to celebrate, to make demands corresponding to CPN (Maoist) Party's programs. Similarly a finance department organizes the mobilization of labor in community based production works. An education department is responsible for giving periodic political classes and even organizing class for those who are preparing to take examinations for formal education. This way, even within the prison walls, their spirit is glowing like fire. This has rendered the jail authorities even more futile in their effort to dampen their spirit.
Because of their important role in both the people's armed forces and in running People's Committees, women are increasingly being targeted by the reactionary armed forces, resulting in mass rape, torture, disappearances, encounter killings in periodic police operations. So far, about 2,000 men and women have been martyred since the initiation of the People's War, and amongst them about 200 women are martyrs. In Rolpa alone, 21 women have been martyred. The recent killing of four activists of the People's War in Gorkha within the span of one month, amongst whom three are women, shows that the reactionary force has become more alarmed by the militancy of women in Nepal. Hence they are resorting to more torture, rape and encounter killings of women activists and sympathizers. However, such cowardly acts have helped in spreading the message of the People's War to every nook and corner of society.
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