Archive ref no: NCA-18627
The Historic Initiation and After
On February 13, 1996 at about 3:45 p.m. a group of people, both men and women, (the mainstream media later reported it to number about 300, which was in reality an overestimation) took possession, almost without any resistance, of the office of the Small Farmer's Development Programme of the state owned Agricultural Development Bank in Chyangli VDC (Village Development Committee) in Gorkha district in central Nepal. At first the masses gathered outside the office, located in a small village bazaar, and, while one of the youths gave a brief speech exposing the mechanism of exploitation of poor peasants by the Bank and highlighting the need of capturing it by the peasants, another group overpowered the staffs inside the office and took possessions of all the official papers. As they do not generally keep cash in such offices, the loan papers signed by the peasants and the tend registration certificates (known as Lalpurja) deposited by the peasants as collateral were seized. While the Lalpurjas were kept safe to be returned later to the respective peasants In the surrounding villages, a bonfire was made out of the loan papers worth several million rupees and other documents. Then after making a brief parting speech by one of them, the mass of the people dispersed quickly and safely to their respective places. The whole thing was over within about half an hour and the nearest police outpost about a kilometer away was caught totally unawares.
The same day in the evening (between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.) three police outposts, one each in Rolpa and Rukum districts in western Nepal and one in Sindhuli district in eastern Nepal, were seized by armed youths shouting Marxist-Leninist-Maoist slogans. in Rolpa district, which has been in the forefront of militant resistance struggle for several years, the police outpost at Holeri was stormed by a militant team armed with local weapons and explosives. As the policemen were ready to surrender everything except their rifles, there ensued an exchange of fire from both sides for almost two hours. Ultimately bound by the policy of not killing any policemen at this initial, stage, the militants ransacked the office, seized the store and took hold of a substantial amount of high explosives and other utilities and escaped to safety. Before departure, they made their revolutionary political motives clear to the policemen and a crowd of curious villagers which had gathered outside the police station. In a similar move at the Athbiskot-Rari police outpost in the neighbouring Rukum district, also known as a stronghold of Maoist communists, the outpost was easily captured without any resistance from the policemen. The armed raiding team took possession of a large amount of explosives and other utilities and valuables and escaped safely after making their revolutionary intentions clear to the captured policemen. In the third case of Sindhuli district, with a glorious revolutionary tradition, the police outpost at the historic Sindhuligarhi (or the fort where the powerful British interventionist army was defeated by the then Gorkhali soldiers in an epic battle using guerilla tactics in 1766) was captured without any resistance whatsoever. After making a long discourse on New Democratic revolution to the captured policemen and their families, the militants escaped with substantial amount of high explosives and other utilities. The anecdote goes that before their departure the militants tied down the policemen and covered them with warm quilts to safeguard them from the biting winter cold, which the policemen later publicly acknowledged in the national media.
On February 13 itself, planned assaults were made against three more targets. In the capital city of Kathmandu a soft-drink bottling factory owned by a multi-national company was attacked and a portion of the building torched. Surprisingly the company chose not to publicize the incident for unknown reasons. In Gorkha district a liquor factory owned by a comprador bourgeois was blasted. As the police personnel in the hectic running around after the bank action earlier in the day in nearby Chyangli VDC incidentally happened to be enjoying the liquor session there at the time, this action was also hushed up maybe to hide their own embarrassment. In another highly successful action, the house of a notorious feudal-usurer in Kavre district in eastern Nepal was raided at night by a large group of men and women and properties and cash worth 1.3 million rupees seized and loan documents worth several million rupees destroyed. Nobody was physically harmed in all these actions.
The same night, thousands of leaflets and posters containing the appeal of the Party to the general masses to march along the path of people's war to smash the reactionary state and establish a New Democratic state, were distributed in major cities and headquarters of more than 60 districts (out of a total of 75 districts).
Thus was the historic initiation of the people's war made on February 13, 1996. The selection of the seven targets and their distribution in different regions of the country should provide the glimpse of the specificities of people's war in Nepal. The targets clearly symbolise the principal enemy classes, namely feudalism and comprador and bureaucratic capitalism, and their state power. The forms of actions resorted to in this initiation process are clearly seen to include guerrilla actions, sabotage and propaganda action and the form of annihilation is seen to be purposely avoided. A judicious blend of team and mass actions is sought to be maintained to make it move in the direction of a real 'people's war'. And the political intent of the armed actions has been declared and emphasised from the very beginning to give a correct political orientation and to check possible distortions and disinformation by the reactionaries. Just five days after the initiation, i.e. on February 18, the Party issued a public statement confirming that the armed actions were in conformity with the earlier appeal made by the party, which established the revolutionary character of the people's war among the general masses beyond any doubt.
The almost simultaneous support publicly extended to the people's war by the United People 's Front, Nepal (UPF), an united front organization of patriotic, democratic and leftist forces with a revolutionary reputation at the national level, helped to expand the support base of the politics of armed struggle among different strata of the masses. This way within the first few days of the historic initiation the politics of people's war was seen firmly established in the country.
The Follow-Up Actions
Following the historic initiation and general appeal of the Party, different types of militant and armed actions sprang up at lightning speed almost all over the country. Within three weeks of the initiation and appeal, about 5000 actions had taken place in about 65 districts of the country. Of these actions, about 85 percent constituted propaganda actions including torch-light processions, painting of slogans, distribution of leaflets and posters in favour of people's war, about 12 percent of sabotage actions including destruction and seizure of properties of feudals and comprador and bureaucratic capitalists, and about 3 percent of guerilla actions including punitive actions against local goons, police informers, tyrants etc., raids and ambushes for seizure of arms and properties, etc. Though the Party had appealed not to resort to annihilation at this stage, several cases of annihilation have also occurred due to unavoidable circumstances.
By the area of actions, though propaganda actions are seen scattered almost all over the country, the higher forms of actions are seen concentrated more in about a dozen of districts and those, too, in several clusters in Western hills (mostly around Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Sallyan districts), in eastern hills and inner Terai (particularly Sindhuli, Kavre, Sindhupalchok etc.) and in central hills (like Gorkha etc). Of these, the most affected were Rolpa, Rukum and Jajarkot districts in Western Nepal, followed by Sindhuli and Kavre districts in eastern Nepal and then Gorkha district in central Nepal.
Some of the actions that have drawn national media attention have sent chills down the spine of the reactionaries and highly boosted the morale of the labouring masses all over the country. One such case is that of Deep Bahadur Singh, a former Assistant Minister and a notorious feudal tyrant of Jajarkot district, whose house was raided by the peasant and youths, his property seized and usurious loan papers worth several million rupees destroyed. He was later reported to have claimed a compensation of 40 million rupees from the government. After this case most of the local tyrants fled to the district headquarter and a large number of poor peasants were attracted towards the Party. In Rolpa district about a dozen local goons and 6 police informers were punished with amputation of their limbs, which spread a reign of terror among the reactionaries throughout the district and adjoining districts. In Rukum district the house and rice mills of several tyrants including a notorious feudal tyrant and currently an Assistant Minister, Gopalji Jung Shah, were blasted and properties seized. In Sindhuli district the properties of the biggest feudal lord; Tika Jung Thapa, were seized and his houses torched. In Gorkha district the paper mill of an Assistant Minister, Chinkaji Shrestha, was blasted and the office of a notorious NGO, Save the Children Fund - USA, was destroyed, so on and so forth.
In fact similar actions in varying scales were carried out in such large numbers in the first two weeks after the initiation that the party had to issue a circular and make an appeal to slacken the speed and scale of actions so as not to provoke the reactionaries beyond the resistance capacity of the people and the Party. However, the militant and armed actions in such forms and scales in the first two or three weeks after the initiation did much to raise the prestige of the Party and popularise the politics of people's war among the masses. The prominent coverage in the national media, whether in support of or against the people's war, during this period provides some inkling of this.
After some initial confusion and hesitation, the reactionary state, as expected, went all out in its bid to crush and repress the people's war particularly from the second week onwards. Throwing into the dustbin all pretensions of bourgeois democracy and rule of law, paramilitary forces and specially trained commando forces were deployed in large numbers with direct orders from the highest quarters in the central government, and a mad frenzy of fascist repression followed.
The first police firing look place in Jarang-Pandrung VDC of Gorkha district on February 26, when a group of about 50 armed police fired at a more than thousand strong unarmed mass of school children and local peasants desperately attempting to rescue a popular local head-master arrested by the police with a fictitious charge of destroying the office of 'Save the Children Fund USA' the other day. An 11-year old school-boy, Dil Bahadur Ramtel, was shot dead on the spot, thus becoming the first martyr of the people's war, and several others were injured. The next day, that is on February 27 early in the morning, the armed police of the fascist state shot dead six peasant and student youths all sleeping together in a farm house at Melgairi, Papal VDC in Rukum district in a fake encounter. Then ensued a series of killing in fake encounters almost in regular intervals (See Table-1). In the first three months, i.e. till mid-May, more than 30 persons have been killed by the police in Rukum (14 nos.), Rolpa (11), Jajarkot (2), Sindhuli (2) and Gorkha (1) districts. Many more are reported to be missing from police custody.
TABLE - 1
LIST OF MARTYRS OF THE PEOPLE'S WAR
(UP TO MID-MAY 1996)
|NO.||DATE||NAME (AGE)||DISTRICT (VDV)||STATUS||NATURE OF KILLING|
|1||Feb 26||Dil Bahadur Ramtel (11)||Gorkha (Takukot)||Student||Shooting at the masses|
|2||Feb 27||Kal Bahadur K C (25)||Rukum (Pipal)||Peasant Front||fake encounter|
|3.||"||Pashupati K C (27)||"||"||"|
|4.||"||Dal Bahadur K C. (27)||"||"||"|
|5.||"||Man Bahadur Gautam (25)||"||"||"|
|6.||"||Khadga Bahadur K C. (13)||"||Student||"|
|7.||"||Man Bahadur K C. (24)||"||Student Front||"|
|8.||Feb 27||Man Bahadur Oli||Jajarkot (Lahan)||UPF||Thrown from a precipice|
|9.||"||Man Bahadur Rawal||"||"||"|
|10.||March 12||Jokh Bahadur Pun (18)||Rukum (Pwang)||Party Member||fake encounter|
|11.||"||Dil Bahadur Pun (47)||"||Peasant Front||"|
|12.||March 18||Jaya Bahadur Budha||Rukum (Kankri)||Peasant||Shooting at the masses|
|13.||"||Dhan Maya Shrestha||"||Women Front||"|
|14.||"||Chakra Bahadur Shrestha||"||Peasant||"|
|15.||March 20||Jaya Dhan Thapa (31)||Rolpa (Hwama)||Party Member||fake encounter|
|16.||"||Lahar Singh Pun (38)||"||"||"|
|17.||"||Indra Jit (25)||"||Peasant||"|
|18.||March 26||Chop Bahadur Dangi||Rolpa (Dubidanda)||Party Member||fake encounter|
|20.||March 28||Mulman Budha||Rolpa (Mirul)||Peasant||fake encounter|
|21.||March 28||Bhare Gharti||Rukum (Hukam)||"||"|
|22.||March 28||Dudha Bahadur Pun||Rukum (Kankri)||UPF||"|
|23.||March 31||Bin Bahadur Pariyar||Rolpa (Khungri)||Peasant||"|
|24.||April 12||Tilak Ram Budha (35)||Rolpa (Kotgaum)||UPF||"|
|25.||April 25||Masta Bahadur Bista||Rukum (Chunwang)||Party Member||"|
|26.||May 7||Gyanendra Devkota||Sindhuli (Amale)||N.A.||"|
Apart from shooting people dead, the state repression in the form of arbitrary arrest in thousands, inhuman torture in police custody, gang rape of women in the villages and in police custody, arson and looting of properties of peasants, etc., knows no bounds. As a result thousands of youths and adult men are forced to leave their houses and hide in jungles and caves for months. In some places the state has armed local goons and let them create a reign of white terror. Some of the villages are virtually under curfew for months. The districts most affected by this state terror have been Rolpa, Rukum, Sindhuli, Kavre, Jajarkot and Gorkha. Whereas Rolpa and Rukum had to bear most of the brunt of state repression in the initial stages, it has been the turn of Sindhuli in the later stages.
A group of top human rights activists of the country has recently (i.e. first week of May) made an on-line-spot survey of Rolpa district and verified the above forms and scale of state repression, As an example of inhuman torture in police custody, they have cited the case of the elected District Development Committee Chairman of Rolpa district, Jhakku Prasad Subedi, whose both hands and feet were thrashed and fractured. The case of lesser mortals could just be surmised, opined their report made public in Kathmandu.
Apart from the fascist reign of terror in rural areas, the reactionary state has resorted to arbitrary arrests on a mass scale and prohibition of all mass activities by the supporters of Maoist revolutionaries in urban areas particularly in the capital city of Kathmandu. For example, an annual people's movement day rally and mass meeting by the supporters of the party and the UPF on April 6 and the May day rally by the trade union close to the party were prohibited and the participants arrested in Kathmandu. This seems to be a calculated move to terrorise the masses and to deny the party all opportunities of open activities and mass contacts.
The Party and the Masses
However, the party leadership is in constant touch with all the developments and in full command of the situation right from the initiation to the later stages. Despite the desperate attempts of the enemy to capture the leadership and nip the people's war in the bud, the party leadership from the centre down to the regional and district levels have been successfully preserved and the safety of thousands of revolutionary cadres has been ensured through a vast underground organisational network and a correct implementation of the policy of mass line. In the midst of such brutal state repression, the arrested cadres and general masses have demonstrated exemplary revolutionary morality and courage and nobody has capitulated before the enemy or betrayed the Party and the revolution so far. In fact there have been a good number of examples of dare-devil acts of defying the enemy and holding high the red banner of revolution by lower level cadres and general sympathisers, particularly the peasant women. However the enemy has tried to use some scum and degenerate elements that were already kicked out of the party to sow confusion about the viability of the people's war, but with little success.
The party successfully held a meeting of the political bureau of the Central Committee after one month of the Initiation of the people's war and made a detailed review of the overall situation. It was concluded that the initiation was historic and the subsequent developments basically as envisaged beforehand. Taking into account some of the weaknesses and mistakes as well, which were minor compared to the basic successes and achievements, the PB meeting chalked out a future strategy to develop the people's war to higher stages. A public statement issued by the party at the end of the meeting sought to clarify some of the misconceptions and disinformation deliberately created by the reactionaries and opportunists among the general masses and laid emphasis on mobilizing the masses to counter state repression besides making other basic preparations.
In sum, the initiation of the people's war in such a grand and successful manner has been hailed by the revolutionary forces inside and outside Nepal with spontaneous gusto and all eyes now seem to be focused on how it would develop in the future.
"An oppressed class which does not strive to learn to use arms, to acquire arms, only deserves to be treated like slaves." - V.I. Lenin, "The War Programme of the Proletarian Revolution"
"How do we justify the encouragement of heroic sacrifice in war? Does It not contradict "self - preservation"? No, it does not; sacrifice and self- preservation are both opposite and complimentary to each other. War Is politics with bloodshed and exacts a price, sometimes an extremely high price. Partial and temporary sacrifice (non-preservation) is incurred for the sake of general and permanent preservation."
- Mao Tse-tung, "On Protracted War"