He says: "This has not just spread terror along the trekking trails, but it has also put a damper on the trekking industry." The Maoist-affiliated All Nepa lSecurity Workers Union has been collecting a compulsory levy from all security guards. Union boss Ghanashyam Thakuri admits that his group collects Rs 425,000 a month from the estimated 17,000 security guards in the country.
Says former Maoist central committee member and the coordinator of the newly-formed Revolutionary Communist Party, Mani Thapa: "The Maoist strategy is to use violence and extortion to propel themselves into power." Union boss Thakuri says the levy from individual guards is not compulsory, but security guards working for Group Four Falk, Fishtail, Welfare, andother agencies say they are all forced to pay Rs 25 a month to the nationwide network of security guards set up by the Maoists. Says one guard with Kantipur Security: "Even if you don't agree with the Maoist ideology, you're required to pay the fee. We never get a receipt, and noone tells us where our money goes."