Sirjana, a Maoist guerrilla fighter who had sustained severe injuries while fighting government security forces in Jarayotar of Sindhuli, was arrested while undergoing medical treatment at Miteri Hospital in Kathmandu. Following her release from jail during the second government-Maoist talks in 2001, Sirjana came in contact with her party and went on to become a 'regional platoon commissar'. These days, however, she works as a security guard in a company called Group 4 during the daytime and sells slippers and shoes on Kathmandu's busy streets and pavements in the evening.
Mandab Raj Karki, once a regional bureau member of the Maoist party, is presently learning Japanese at a language institute in Kathmandu. He started his political career with the Masal party and subsequently went underground at the start of the people's insurgency. Popular inside the party as a capable and promising young activist, Karki led an internal revolt in 2001 and even went on to set up a parallel outfit with the name CPN-Maoist Communist Centre.
Maoist leader Mumaram Khanal was arrested in March 2001 and then released from army custody during the second peace talks held the same year. Active inside the party since the year 1986, Khanal was elected as a central member at the second national conference in 2000. He emerged recently after a long silence to say he had left the Maoist party and is currently working as a freelance writer.
Raj Bikram Rai, former Bhojpur district secretary of the Maoist party, has left the outfit and gone abroad. Yadab Bista, a former member of the Okhaldhunga district committee, was arrested at Tribhuban International Airport while trying to board a plane. He is now said to be in the central jail. But his family members have complained there was no reason for him to be arrested as he had already left the party and that he is a victim of personal vengeance.
The number of those who have left or defected from the Maoist party is in the hundreds, if not thousands. Rajesh Thapa, a former central member of the student wing of the party is now confused about his future and doesn't know what to do after having quit. Others are relatively more fortunate. Former Maoist leader Pushkar Gautam, in addition to working with an NGO, writes about the Maoists in different magazines and is widely read.
Due to various kinds of accusations levelled against them by the Maoists and security forces, many who have defected from the party prefer to keep their surrender a secret, fearing reprisals. One such former Maoist district leader says, "The decision to surrender comes from one's soul. We didn't surrender ourselves in front of the radio or tv but it is true that we have left the Maoists."
Maoist leaders and activists from the ranks of the district or central leadership, who have first hand experience of leading battles from the front, are seen leaving or severing ties with the Maoists in three ways. First, by waging an ideological rebellion. Second, creating scandals inside the party like financial misappropriation, sexual harassment or exploitation. And third, by letting themselves be arrested by security forces and later surrendering to them.
According to sources, even though those leaving the party might have been compelled to leave or stripped of party membership after being involved in some kind of scandal, they often say that they had rebelled within the party. And those who did in fact leave after revolting are not only dismissed as liars by the Maoists-who say that nothing of the sort happened-but the party makes an entirely different accusation against them.
Mandab Karki, who claims to have split with the Maoists because of ideological differences, says, "No matter what they say in public, in reality they cannot tolerate multiparty society and ideological contention." Party defectors sometimes get into criminal activities, others engage in minor jobs to survive, and some former party members are still ideologically Maoists even though they are not active.