The Maoist strategy is to spread hopelessness. To show that this country has no future. And they are doing it with devastating effect by decreasing the government's revenue through threats and intimidation against business, and increasing state expenditure by ratcheting up the insurgency and forcing army deployment nationwide. The Maoists know time is on their side, and the longer this goes on, the more hopelessness it will breed. It is a smart, if somewhat desperate, move. The government and the security forces will have to counter by being even smarter. Unfortunately, we have seen only brute force, not too many flashes of brilliance.
Cornered by the army, the Maoists in the past weeks have been targeting what remains of the rural educated. They have launched a murder spree of village school teachers and social activists. The brutality of the killings is calculated to sow terror. We don't see the point of this: unless it is a sign of reckless desperation. Which revolutionary handbook says you win over the support of the people through fear? Not Mao's. How does it help the revolution to slaughter ordinary village elders who are not your class enemy, just people who disagree with your method?
The teacher in Lamjung was tied to a tree, tortured and killed with a bullet in the heart. The teacher in Khotang was taken away, his hands and legs broken before he was killed. The teacher in Gorkha was dragged out of the classroom and butchered in front of his students. A 70-year-old man was killed as his grandchildren looked on.
Despite the emergency, the wave of extortion and threats have reached levels unprecedented even by the barbarous standards previously set by the comrades. Civil servants, teachers, health post attendants now have to pay 30 percent of their monthly salary to the Maoists. They have been told it may soon go up to 50 percent. The Ministry of Education, which is the biggest employer in Nepal, spends up to Rs 9 billion a year on salaries for teachers-it looks like nearly half of that is now going directly into the Maoists' coffers as ransom money. This may be something the delegates at the Nepal Development Forum pledging meeting next week may want to mull on.
Deuba has a point when he says peace is a precondition for development. But it is lack of development that endangers peace.