Six years after bidding adieu to violence, thousands of former Maoist rebels in Nepal started leaving the cantonments that had been their homes since end of the civil war on Friday.
The farewell to arms by 7,365 combatants of Peoples’ Liber­ation Army who had opted for retirement is a major development in the country’s peace process that had got stuck in recent months.
The retired combatants were handed cheques worth half of their total compensation of NRs 5 to NRs 8 lakh (R3.12 lakh—R5 lakh) based on rank and service and some transport allowance.
The process started from Friday in the Sindhuli, Chitwan and Nawalparasi cantonments and will begin in the other four main camps from Saturday. The entire process is expected to be over in two weeks.
Once the combatants depart, the number of camps would be brought down to 14. The process to integrate 6,500 other PLA men into Nepal Army as per their qualifications will begin after that.
Since the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Accord, nearly 19,000 PLA members were staying in seven main and 28 smaller camps spread across Nepal as leaders decided on their future.
Their arms were kept locked inside the camps under supervision first by the UN mission in Nepal and later by a Special Secretariat. They were provided monthly stipend and rations.
Maoists despite joining political mainstream and heading government twice had rare distinction of having a private army.