Revolutionary Worker #1112, July 29, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org
The People's War in Nepal has been waging armed struggle against the reactionary Nepalese government since 1996. Led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its leader, Chairman Prachanda, the PW is sinking deep roots among the peasants, waging guerrilla warfare, and developing base areas where the masses are exercising new people's power.
In early April, there were some important military victories by the people's army. Thousands of actions were carried out all over the country in the course of a week-long campaign, culminating in a general shutdown (Nepal bandh) on April 6. Most significantly, the people's army carried out five successful big raids on different police posts. These actions helped expand and consolidate the revolutionary base areas, particularly in the Western Region. Himalayan Thunder (a bulletin put out by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), wrote:
"Two massive guerrilla raids were carried out in the Western Region, the hub of the People's War, which are regarded as the biggest military actions since the one at the district headquarters of Dolpa in September 2000. The first of these at Rukumkot, the virtual bastion of the PW, on April 1, is widely acknowledged as the topmost military action to date [ed note: this was written in May], if one sees it from the strict military point of view. Since it was the first successful attack against a company-level fortification of the Special Striking Force of the enemy's police force located on a strategic hill-topThe fortified post was manned by 76 policemen at the time. However the people's guerrillas of a company-level formation, aided by local militias, successfully stormed into the fortification with a lightning speed and destroyed the enemy camp within 45 minutes. As a result, 32 police commandos, including one inspector, were killed, 14 wounded and 22 were taken into people's custody."
The Revolutionary Worker received the following correspondence from a writer in Nepal who received a special invitation from party comrades in Rukum to witness the Rukumkot Raid, firsthand:
The people's war, approaching its sixth anniversary, has not only developed politically but in its military strength and strategy. With thousands in its people's army, it has developed its strength from the point of zero. And there are thousands of men and women waiting to be accepted into the people's army. The successful military raids [in April] on five police posts increased the strength and capacity of the people's army.
This is an attempt to write about the "Rukumkot Raid"--one of the biggest attacks, so far, in the People's War of Nepal. There are some interesting stories about the behavior of the police and the people's army during and after this attack.
Rukum, about 600 kilometers to the west of Kathmandu, is a base area of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). And the Rukumkot police post, with army fortifications and commando policies, was the most powerful post, aside from the police headquarters.
I was invited, along with a friend, to directly eyewitness the raid and report on it. After some continuous days of walking we reached the people's army's camp on March 31 at 2 p.m. On the base of a hill we could see tents and people busy making food. The whole village was full of comrades from the people's army--some having food, some cleaning weapons and some busy discussing. We were warmly welcomed by the villagers and the people's army. The same day we proceeded closer to the police post for the last encampment.
The last camp was just down the other side of the same hill--five hours walk from the Rukumkot police post. Some comrades were busy doing sentry duty, watching the activities of the enemy at the police post. Messages of the activities in the post were frequently delivered to the headquarters. Some other comrades were discussing the map of the post and their plans. Nobody was resting. Instead everyone was waiting anxiously for when it would be time to march and attack.
It was April 1, about 5 p.m., when the long line of people's army guerrillas started marching towards the police post, sharing red salutes among comrades. The way was slippery from the rain. Curious about what lay ahead and confident about winning the battle, the long line gradually marched up and down the hill.
It was about 9 p.m., and we were very near the post. About 9:15, the power was cut and then again at 10 p.m. The police usually scream when this happens. We were eagerly waiting for the opening fire. It was a bright, nearly full moon night after the rain. We were all shivering from the cold and it was getting worse as time went on. At about 11 p.m., there was another power-cut. The police started to scream, dogs barked. The bursting sound from the fire of .3-Ø-3 rifles broke the night's peace.
The sounds of non-stop firing woke up the whole town and nearby villages. In the nearby villages people held rallies--firing weapons into the air and playing traditional musical instruments--to motivate the people's army to win the battle. "Long-live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Prachanda Path*," "We will win the battle, " "People's army--go forward!" "Long live CPN (Maoist)": as people shouted slogans, the roar was more massive and the sounds of grenade bombs thundered through the whole area.
Only one to two seconds would go by with no firing. Otherwise it was like a heavy rain of fire, sometimes about four to five rounds in a second. We could even hear the commander from the people's army giving commands to his comrades and calling on the police to surrender. He was explaining that this is a war against the regime not with the police, saying, "Surrender and live, we guarantee to save your life."
It was not possible for us to move toward the post without permission from the commander. So it was better to wait. It was about 11:30 p.m. when the gunfire eased up and the first bunker started burning. We started to move toward the post. There were some bursting sounds of bullets going on every few minutes when we reached the post.
The bunkers were burning. Comrades were busy rounding up the surrendered police, ordering them to lay down. All the comrades were exchanging "congratulations" for the success in winning the battle. The supply group was collecting the weaponry and carrying out other logistics. We could see some policemen laying dead. There was a huge number of dead police on the southwest side of the post which was their relatively safe side.
Some comrades had given their lives. There was a detail searching the area. Company doctors were busy treating injured comrades and police. Some comrades were busy recording the names of the police and noting if there were any cases** against them. We wandered all around and took photographs.
After an hour and a half the whole group started to march back with 22 surrendered police. The injured police were taken into their post and left behind. We then walked for about an hour. The martyred comrades were being carried and there was a need to bury them somewhere safe. The supply and reserve group were taking up these responsibilities.
We felt the reality of loss in war and the need to sacrifice blood for the revolution. "Blood is the catalyst for the revolution." This was proven here. Eight comrades had given their lives for the people's war. For the people's republic of Nepal up to the goal of communism, for the bright and definite future, for the total independence of human society and for serving the world proletarian movement: they had given their lives happily. It was a loss in military strength, but necessary.
Places for burying the comrades were chosen and their graves were dug. Eight comrades were in a deep sleep--like resting after winning the war. It seemed like they were smiling with the pleasure of the successful victory. I think the words of one comrade martyr expressed with his last breath to a nearby comrade are appropriate to remember: "Comrade, I am hit by a bullet, I think I will not live. Take this rifle. Also pull my grenade bag. There is some dry food in my bag. Have it, if it is not spoiled by my blood. Do not leave the trench. We will certainly win victory." These were the words of one martyr (Comrade Milan) when he was hit. It shows his comradeship, courage, and confidence in winning the war.
Company commander Comrade Passang gave a speech on the respect for all known and unknown martyrs and the eight martyred comrades. "On this offensive action, our military front and our party has lost eight of our skilled and courageous commanders and comrades. It has certainly given us much pain and sorrow. But losses and death are unavoidable with victory and it would be unscientific and inappropriate to say only the enemy loses and dies."
All present there were sad to give their condolences for the martyrs. The members of the army were ordered by the commander to give a last red salute to the martyrs. Pointing their rifles down, taking off their caps and bowing down, everybody was silent for a minute. With fists pumped up, for the last time, the army saluted its courageous comrades.
Now it was time to bury them. All the dead bodies were then buried one by one. It was really a memorable moment. Everybody's eyes were filled with tears. Even having an understanding of loss and death, sentiments welled up. After burying all the comrade martyrs, we started our journey back to the camp in the darkness.
A few hours later, the darkness disappeared and beams of light brightened the Sisne Himal (the famous mountain in Rukum and symbol of revolutionary spirit). It was smiling with the victory of the raid that happened in its own lap, just a few hours earlier. But we felt even Sisne Himal was in sorrow from the pain of losing its eight hopeful children. Sisne seemed to want to share the joys and sorrows with the people's army.
About 7:15 a.m. helicopters started searching, flying a few hundred meters up. The police were retaking their destroyed police post and carrying out the injured police. But we didn't care about them. We continued our journey.
After reaching the camp, we had food and then rested. Every villager was sharing the victory and joy, congratulating the people's army. They were feeling that the people's effort had been rewarded with victory. Moreover they felt a long awaited revenge for the murder of their relatives and oppression of the people.
We met with the prisoners of war (surrendered police). They were hopeless and explained they had not even imagined they would be attacked at that post. They even told lots of stories about how they fell down the hill trying to stop the Maoist attack. Out of the 76 police at the post, 50 were military-trained "commandos." They had been confident that they could win the battle and explained that they did not surrender at first because they hoped to defeat their enemy. They had even tried to escape from their secured zone, but after the first bunker was captured, they lost hope. They promised not to stay employed as police if they were released. Later, after two weeks they sent an appeal, hoping to be released. But as of the date this is being written, they have not yet been released.
That was April 2, about 2 p.m. Comrades were busy recording the number of weapons seized. As they examined the weapons, comrades showed how much they loved these weapons that were won with the blood of their comrades and that the capture of these weapons was an important factor in the victory. The weapons captured were: 58 3-Ø-3 rifles, 6858 bullets, 4 pistols, 3 revolvers, 6 magnum rifles, 13 filling guns, 23 grenades, 43 smoke bombs and other materiel.
The next day was April 3 and it was time to leave the camp, even though we did not want to leave. We exchanged revolutionary greetings with each other. The villagers gave us a farewell ceremony with garlands of beautiful flowers and tikka [red colored powder put on the forehead]. Our hearts were filled by their warmness. We waved goodbye and gave our wishes for more victories in the war.
The Rukumkot Raid has a strategic importance in the people's war of Nepal and in establishing Prachanda Path in Nepal. It is not only a military victory against the enemy but a political victory against the reactionaries. The destroyed police headquarters of the Rukum district was one of the main anti-revolutionary strongholds that had a military importance to the Girija Regime. On a secured hilltop over a steep precipice, with thorny iron wire around the post, ambush mining and booby-traps, with one main post and eight side bunkers and 16 support bunkers and a surrounding tunnel--this post was their latest military planned fortification, with a lot of army-trained commandos.
The government used to say that the Maoists only win battles because of favorable geography. But on a visit to the post [after the raid], the DPM (Deputy Prime Minister) said the Maoists had not only taken advantage of the geographical situation, but had also developed their military skills.
This raid not only destroyed the post and delivered a blow to the regime's military strength--but also was a big loss for the people's army as well. It showed that victory comes not only with weapons and favorable geographical conditions, but even more with correct line and policy, with the light of M-L-M and Prachanda Path, with courage, objective strategy, and dedication. It played an important role in establishing the Prachanda path on Nepali earth.
* The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has described "Prachanda Path" in a recent editorial in The Himalayan Thunder: "The set of ideas so far developed in the process of application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in the concrete conditions of Nepal has been synthesized as 'Prachanda Path.' "
This is a concept decided on at an important recent National Conference of their Party. The CPN(M)'s views about this and other important theoretical and political questions are explained in depth in The Himalayan Thunder, a new bulletin of the CPN(M), which is available at Revolution Books.
** During raids on police posts, the guerrillas check to see if any of the captured police are known to have carried out crimes against the people--like rape, murder and torture.
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