Nepali Times
Nation
Rolpa is waiting



In Thawang, where the Maoist war began 12 years ago, there is peace, and it is hard to tell there is an election around the corner.

The men folk are all either in the UN-supervised cantonments or have gone abroad to work. In village after village, there are only women, children and the elderly. Every household has at least one person in the Maoist army.

Thawang VDC is run like a commune and probably comes closest to what the Maoists wanted to establish in Nepal. There is collective agriculture, many villagers share what little they have. Most people say they believe in the Maoist path, and they don't look like they are saying so out of fear.

But everyone here is glad the war is over. Anera Roka Magar, remembers the horrors of conflict. "We used to be terrified of the helicopters, we would all run and hide, even schools were attacked from the air," she recalls.

However, there is no election fever here because there is no competition. Few leaders from other political parties have ventured out to Rolpa's hinterland.
"The elections would have been interesting if there were other parties," Roka Magar admits, "but they haven't dared return."

A police post has finally been re-established, but the force is hated so much because of atrocities during Operation Kilo Sierra Two of 1997-99 that it had to be located in neighbouring Uwa VDC.

Longsuffering Rolpalis are like Nepalis elsewhere, they are waiting for the peace dividend. They want better roads, telephones, health care, electricity and education. They think the election will help them get these services.

"With elections, we have a chance to make our lives better," says Mahesh Buda Magar. Many full-time Maoists are now turning to social work and development.
With two years of peace, people are also speaking out more openly in the tea shops. They are apprehensive that the Maoist leaders have sold out. People in Thawang were planning to do the two day walk to Libang to hear Puspha Kamal Dahal speak this week.

Shrish runs a cooperative eatery in Thawang and remembers the struggle of the war years and the hope everyone had for genuine change. She says: "I wonder whether our leaders have also forgotten Rolpa."


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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