Re: "Visas and Advisories" (Letters, #136) by Chris Lebonne. I have been bringing foreign groups to raft on the Karnali River, and stay in the hotels at Bardia National Park for a few years now. I was there this year, and heard a similar story about the local army major taking "protection money" from each of the hotels there. He even called a meeting of the local hotel association to make his demands, all of whom meekly agreed to make monthly payments of Rs 1-3,000. Incidentally, when the Maoists came to extort money from the hotels, they asked nicely and even gave receipts! It's about time the army seriously look at the behaviour of its senior staff, because it needs the support of the people, not the fear and loathing they currently have in Bardia. All money collected by this major should be returned and the matter thoroughly investigated. I have the utmost faith in the people of Nepal, and the only reason I am writing this is that I know that those who want to complain about this gross injustice cannot.
. I think it's unrealistic to expect the head of security forces in remote areas not to expect some support from local bodies such as hotels ("Letters", #136). They receive little funds, probably irregularly from the central government in Kathmandu, and it is for the benefit of these local hotels that the army exists surely?
. I would like to ask a few open questions that may seem a bit naive from a Nepali who has been out of Nepal for over two years now. I take it that the army receives funds from the government in Kathmandu? If not, do the local populations now have to fundraise to support security on a local level? Do the villagers now also feed the soldiers (as well as the Maoists)? Maybe this is "macro-security"? I think things must have changed a lot in the last two years since I was home. Here we go then, I'll throw a couple of dimes in the pot for the Major's party fund.