The continued recruitment drive in Nepal raises doubts over Maoist commitments to return to peaceful mainstream and respect to human rights.
Despite their readiness to sign the peace accord and commitments to come into the mainstream politics, the Maoists have been continuing forcible recruitment for their “Peoples’ Liberation Army” (PLA) for the last few days. The reports from various districts across the country said, the Maoists have been intimidating the village youths, many of them school children to join their PLA.
The Maoists have specially triggered their recruitment drive in the last weeks after they agreed to return in to a peaceful mainstream in the talks with the Nepal government in 8th November. They had agreed to send their army into cantonments by November 26 and the United Nations will begin monitoring them and their arms. The management for sending the PLAs into the cantonments has also been indefinite as they failed to sign the peace accord on committed date i.e. November 16.
There were reports that they took 100 students forcibly from Udayapur. They have recruited around 400 youth by setting up recruitment centers at two places in far western Dailekh district. The reports from Arghakhanchi said the Maoists forcibly took hundreds of children to recruit them and those who refused were blindfolded and taken. “The Maoists took 600 including some 370 children from the district.” Reports said. Security sources have claimed the Maoists have recruited over 250 students from Sankhuwasabha, the district of Mt. Everest.
Not only the remote districts, the Maoists have recruited over 50 students during recent weeks in Dhading, the bordering district with the capital.
Following the recruitment drive, parents in the areas have been hesitating to send their children to school in those areas. Parents of the “abducted” youth have appealed to human rights activists, journalists and others for help to have them released from Maoist captivity.
The Maoist act of forceful recruitment has widely been condemned from national and international community. The National Human Rights commission has presented a report with proofs of forceful recruitment. It also said the Maoists took the unemployed youths with commitments of salaries and to integrate them in the national army.
After the Maoists triggered their recruitment drive, the government was also forced to give the reaction. The Prime Minister threatened the Maoists not to do so. Home Minister and chief government negotiator Krishna Prasad Sitaula said newly recruited PLAs will not be sent to the cantonments.
However, the Maoists have denied the allegations. Maoist leader and valley Command chief Barsha Man Pun aka Ananta said they are just assembling their PLAs who were living dispersed in various places.
Initially, the Maoists claimed that they had nearly 35,000 PLAs with arms. Now witnesses have speculated that, they have triggered the recruitment drive to show their army in that number.