I was on my way to meet displaced Nepali families in Aligara of India as part of my assignment to cover the anti-rebel uprising near the border areas of Kapilbastu and Rupandehi. As I was about to climb into a jeep to cross the border, four men on motorbikes who said they were Maoists took me away.
Only a month ago, the Maoist leader of Nawalparasi and Kapilbastu had called me on the phone and asked me to meet him to discuss my reports on child soldiers and anti-Maoist vigilante groups ('Giving children a fighting chance', #227). He even sent two of his cadres to fetch me. But I told them I had urgent work and fled to Kathmandu.
The day before my abduction, I met two members of the Maoist special task force near the Rupandehi and Kapilbastu border and I knew the rebels had me under surveillance. I did not panic, I was used to these situations while reporting on conflict. Only a few months back, the lieutenant of Taulihawa barrack had threatened to shoot me.
My kidnappers blindfolded me and locked me up at the Indian border village of Sidharthanagar and told me to wait until their leaders arrived. The next day, I demanded to be allowed to make a phone call. At around 8PM that night, they asked questions with a Bhojpuri Hindi accent and referred to themselves as Maoists. An hour later, six to seven people made me walk blindfolded for two hours after which I heard the voice of Pritam Pande, leader of an anti-Maoist vigilante group whom I had covered in November. "Welcome, journalist," I heard him say. Only then did I realise that my abductors weren't Maoists at all. They interrogated me and accused me of writing against other anti-Maoist groups in Kapilbastu, Rupandehi and Nawalparasi.
What I found strange was that some of them were asking questions on a highly intellectual plane in fluent Nepali and Hindi. After three days my abductors released me but not without a final warning: "Be careful about what you write, next time you won't be spared."