Nepali Times
Ready to put the past behind


Mohan Kumari Shakya never thought that she would live to see the day where she would reach a polling booth to vote, and be part of Nepal's most historic moment. Not in this life.

Late one night four years ago, she was hit by a bullet during the Maoist attack on Beni. The intense battle raged all night. Bombs were going off on the street below, bullets were ricocheting off the walls and hitting metal utensils in the kitchen.

"We had never experienced such a thing in our lives," recalls Mohan Kumari (left), "we hid under our beds all night." The 63-year-old didn't even realise she had been hit in her wrist until she was drenched in blood. Shrapnel wounds covered her face and hands.

It was only in the afternoon of the next day that it was safe to come out of the house, and Mohan Kumari was rushed to Pokhara Hospital.

Now, four years later and thankful to be alive, she says she will support the Maoists even though they had started the war. "They're our fellow villagers," she explains. "They must be given a chance to prove themselves."

She adds: "Innocent people like me have suffered because of their war. Now the Maoists have won the elections they shouldn't go back to their old ways."

The Maoist candidate who won in Myagdi, Govinda Paudel, blends easily into the crowd and looks like any other man on the streets of Beni.

But when talking politics the soft-spoken man radiates energy. He passionately explains that it was his despair at Nepal's economic disparities and social injustice that led him to join the Maoists.

"He's simple and sincere, nothing fancy, that's why he is popular," says manager Shiva Paudel. "He speaks our language," says teacher Roshan Rana, "he came to my place for tea and when we sat and talked, he listened and understood."

Paudel's rented home in Beni bajar is austere. His house in his village was destroyed by the army and he himself was tortured in the jungles. Sitting on a sukul in a narrow balcony, Paudel says his sacrifice and those of his comrades were worth it because Nepal now has a chance to prosper. "Their blood will not be wasted," he says, "the killings will stop now, we do not want to fight on. To get something, you have to lose something."

Paudel admits that the people's expectations are very high. "It will be a challenge to change things overnight, but things will change even if it takes time," he says. The Maoist plan for Myagdi is to tap the district's biodiversity and hydropower wealth for economic development.

"We don't just have natural resources, we also have people, he says, "many people in Myagdi work abroad and bring back experience. We can be a Switzerland."

Wong Shu Yun in Myagdi

Out of control

"You dirty dogs, eat all of these," shouted the YCL cadre at NC supporters at a campaign rally in Padsari VDC of Rupendehi on 6 April.

Rama Aryal Sharma was singled out because she is the leader of the women's wing of the NC. About 40 Maoist youths came in two jeeps, ravaged through lunch packets that Sharma and her colleague had brought, scattered the food and tried to force them to eat it off the floor.

"This area is under our control and you dare hold a meeting here," they said. Sharma argued that nobody owned the place and that everyone had the right to be there. She tried to reason with them, but it was obvious to her they wanted to disrupt the meeting.

The YCL pulled her by the hair and neck and pushed her into their truck while the other women tried to get her out. The police came shortly, and chased off the YCL with tear gas and blank fires.

The threat has not gone away with the news of the Maoist win in the elections. On 14 April, Maoist leaders demanded the release of 31 YCL cadres who were held under probation by the police at Rupendehi for carrying weapons.

"I'm not afraid of them," says Sharma, "we are prepared to face them again."

Wong Shu Yun in Rupendehi

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)