November, the 21st, the government and the Maoists were set to sign the much awaited peace accord. The accord was much awaited because; only this would formally end the Maoist violence in the country. All the people were keenly watching the developments in the capital. My colleagues were also requesting me not to miss the special signing function. Surely, it would have been an opportunity in the life of a journalist to attend the ceremony, because very few in very few countries get the privilege to attend such ceremony where the government and the rebels will declare that they have formally denounced war and will opt for a peaceful politics.
However, I wanted to see the other side of the case. And I set out for Chitwan the previous day, where the third Division of the Maoists among seven would be camped in the cantonments. The site was chosen as an alternate to the Maoist proposal at Kami Danda of Kabhre.The site was decided just three days prior to the deadline to go in to the cantonments. That’s why; transferring Maoists from almost all districts of Bagmati and Narayani just in two days was a challenging task. They were transported in buses and buses. It was fun seeing the armed Maoists openly traveling in the buses. For the time being, I came to think if the Maoists really overtook the power.
Many of the buses, manned with the Maoists were following me. The next very day, at the afternoon, I set out from Narayangarh to visit the site. I had to take the left after reaching Tandi bazaar, some 13 km east in the Mahendra highway. After traveling nearly 5kms, I came across the activities of the Maoist army. A brigade had arrived the previous day. Owing to lack of any necessary things for living, they took shelter in the villagers’ houses. When I reached there, I saw them somehow refreshing, many of them taking baths, others playing. I found some sort of excitement on them. When I talked to one, he said they are very sorry for their friends, who lost life in the war. However now they are hopeful the situation of those loving will improve. The number of girls was also remarkable. Their frankness never let me think that I was talking with the rebels who lived in jungles for years. They didn’t do me a single favor is that they didn’t let me take the pictures of their informal activities. It is very easy to show the higher ups. A girl, she identified herself as Battalion Deputy Commander asked me for lift and I dropped her to the main cantonment site.
As I reached the main cantonment site, I was wondered. Exactly, two years ago, I had been to the same place for reporting. The situation was completely contradictory. That time, the army was launching the search operation at the jungles of Chitwan. I had been there to make a story on the families of those killed by the state. (See: War victims left to fend for themselves) The army was taking rest at the same ground and I was searched and troubled for a few minutes. At the same ground, heavily armed Maoists, nearly in thousands, were taking rest. It was really, amazing. Ignoring what they will say, I began taking pictures and informal talks with the Maoist armies. Many of them refused to talk, telling us to talk to ‘Commanders’.
Nearly, eight thousand Maoist army under third Division will be kept there; four brigades in four different places at the surrounding.
One thing very interesting I found was that, as there were delays on signing the peace accord, so their management for food and shelter was uncertain. Bharatpur Municipality incharge Bibek told us that the government is not releasing any fund and they have to spend their own. Thus it was really mismanaged. The group that arrived the previous day was taking shelter at the villages and the number was folding with thousands. And the next thing very serious was that they were staying at the school ground. The school also did not least worry about the effect of the situation on the children. Some pictures are really astounding.
What I found was that the Maoists army personnel are also eager to come to the peaceful mainstream. However, they were very sorry for the cost of the life of their other ‘comrades.’
Setting out: A group of Maoist just getting off from the bus on which they travelled from eastern districts of Narayani move towards the camping site where other comrades were ready to welcome them with a red salute(Raato Salaam)
After taking rest for a while, the individuals begin to inspect the surrounding where they will be camped for seven months now onwards
The powerful rifle at display
Tired and sweating
At total rest
The other ‘company’
Equipped for the night’s sleep
The school children move across the site where the Maosits are gathered in large number
Aware: This company was most friendly for us. They didn’t make any objections when we took their pictures. They seem camera conscious as well.
A close look
The man with grenade:closely see the newspaper reading man.
The army and the cshool children
The journalists at work; and the blogger is at the extreme left
News alert: A commander listens to one of the local FM station. They were worried about the signing of peace accord because only thentheir cantonments will be well managed
Refreshment: Other ‘comrades’ practise volleyball in the ground
In the victorious mood
The commander with the sign of victory; Abir at his forehead
The people wondered about what the maoist army may do for them
Commander ‘bijaya’ is busy managing all the things.
Privacy: The Maoists at the tap, refreshing themselves. Anyway I was not permitted to take this picture. However, I concealed and zoomed
Dinner: others are preparing dinner. Here too, I was obstructed to take the other picture and I denied to delete this one.