ALL PICS: KONG YEN LIN
These days, Commander Sharad at Rolpa's Dahaban cantonment has a crippling air of resignation. "What? Another journalist?" he asks when his game of carom is disturbed by a reporter who asks for an interview, "I have spoken to so many journalists and nothing has changed."
Half-an-hour later, he stepped away from his carom game and granted an audience to visiting reporters. "I've lost both rounds today," he says, laughing.
"The government promised to raise our monthly wages and make infrastructural provisions but they haven't," he says, "we're starting to feel like refugees in our own land."
About 29 km away at the Tila sub-cantonment, the situation is even more desperate. There are no sentry guards on duty at night, no senior commanders in the camp when we visited and daily drills have been stopped.
Mausam now works as a Rukum correspondent of the Maoist-owned magazine, Yatra, which focuses on Janajati issues. "The two-army integration is the most pressing problem to be resolved in the new constitution," Mausam says, "but even if things don't turn out well, I doubt if the PLA will take up arms again."
Lower Secondary School teacher Nal Bahadur Oli feels that at this rate, the PLA will just melt away. "It's only a matter of time before the PLA is dissolved and cadres are reallocated to different occupations by the government," Oli says.
But Nira Gharti is still hopeful. Gharti spent eight years as a guerrilla, fighting in major battles. She has two wishes: establishing proper schools and skills training in her cantonment, and better guarantees of gender rights in the new constitution. Says the 25-year-old mother: "The condition of women and children were dire during the war, now that there is peace, we are looking for a bright future."