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Guerrillas set an example across the globe

The credit for the transformation of Nepal from a Hindu kingdom to a peoples? democracy largely belongs to the barefoot Maoist soldiers, reports Anirban Roy.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 02:12 IST

At a time when the Maoist ideology is virtually extinct in the world, the strength and tenacity of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has brought it to the corridors of power.

Beginning their underground journey on February 13, 1996, the followers of Mao Zedong have, in less than 11 years, not only changed the political fabric of Nepal, but have also set an example across the globe.

The Maoist insurgency initially began in the two districts of Rolpa and Rukum, the most remote and deprived areas in mid-western Nepal. In no time, it spread like a wild fire across the country. Deeply entrenched rural poverty and social inequality provided a fertile ground for the rebellion. And, soon, more than 80 percent of Nepal’s geographical area was under their control, where they ran a parallel government.

It was a shot in the arm for the insurgents when the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) led by Girija Prasad Koirala entered into a 12-point agreement with them last year to root out monarchy from Nepal.

The credit for the transformation of Nepal from a Hindu kingdom to a peoples’ democracy largely belongs to the barefoot Maoist soldiers, who, despite several odds, and the king’s heavy-handed measures, carried on their movement for over a decade.

While the ‘Peoples’ War’ led to 13,000 deaths, the Maoists seem close to achieving their aim of turning Nepal into a democratic-republic.

But that does not mean that the rebels’ struggle is over. In a country where around 40 percent of the 2.5 crore population lives under the poverty line, people are now looking to the Maoists to lift them out of penury and donor dependency. The long march of the insurgents is not yet over.

Email Anirban Roy: anirban20@yahoo.co.uk