Nepali Times Asian Paints
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Bhuwan and Juna


CHARLES HAVILAND
A brother and sister who served on opposite sides during the war have mended fences and got together again for a family reunion in Khotang. Bhuwan Rai (left) is in the Nepal Army and is stationed in Diktel. His sister Juna Rai (right) is in the Maoist army and now based in a cantonment in Udayapur. During the war, the two very nearly came to shooting at each other during the battles in eastern Nepal.

When Juna and her sister Guna joined the Maoists, Bhuwan was angry. Their father, Kumar, was harassed by both sides during the war. Now, he is happy that his son and daughters are together again. "Our ideologies may be different, but we are a family," says Juna.

It is clear Juna is more indoctrinated than Bhuwan. She speaks in party jargon, and says her goal is to be a part of the national army and serve in the same barracks as her brother. Bhuwan's distrust of the Maoists still runs deep. But for now, the two have come together again.

On the national stage Prime Minister Nepal is desperately trying to get his 22-party coalition to agree on a government. But even if that happens, the integration of the Maoist guerrillas into the Nepal Army will become the single biggest challenge to the peace process.

The level of distrust between the Maoists in the opposition and the UML-led government is at an all time high because of the row over the sacking of the army chief that led to the collapse of the Maoist government last month. The Maoists have launched nation-wide street protests that threaten disruptions and political instability. The fate of the nearly 19,000 Maoists in camps hangs in the balance as UNMIN's mandate expires in July.

If Bhuwan and Juna can integrate back into their family, when will the two armies, to which they belong, do the
same?

READ ALSO:
Brother and sister together again - FROM ISSUE #454 (05 JUNE 2009 - 11 JUNE 2009)



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