Rolpa - For the past five months, the Maoists have blockaded Libang. Villagers cannot get in or out of the district headquarters. Warning banners scare off travellers and traders. The district is on the verge of starvation and neither the state nor the Maoists are concerned.
"There is no business here at all, but what is worse is that the villagers can't get food," says local shopkeeper Krishna Lal Shrestha. As no vehicles are let through to Libang, the only source of food is the state food depot, which is also running out. The depot has announced tenders for food supply thrice but suppliers haven't shown any interest-no one wants to take the risk.
While the villagers are facing starvation, Tsering, the Maoist chief of the district says the blockade is designed to starve the security forces and food can still be transported for the general public. But low-level cadre are preventing that from happening.
Locals are not allowed to sell their produce at Libang because the Maoists suspect that the food will eventually reach the security forces. The rebels, on the other hand, blame the state for first using food as a weapon. "This is just to counter that move against us," says Agni, a Maoist activist. He says the state should first lift the food embargo on the districts before they open the roads into Libang.
Over 18 VDCs cannot sell or buy food. Famine is imminent. Although the main targets were the security forces, they are largely unaffected. The lives of thousands of children and adults are at risk. The Maoists, meanwhile, are making a tidy packet by releasing seized buses and trucks after the owners pay a sum of money.