Mahesh Adhikari always wanted to be a journalist, but he settled to start off as a paperboy in Pokhara. Two years ago, as he was calling out the headlines of a rebel attack in Accham from the paper he was distributing, he was arrested. In prison, he met a militant who inspired him to become a war correspondent for the Maoist 'regime'. When he was released 14 months later, he headed for Accham and, after receiving Maoist journalism training, he joined Basu Smriti 4th Brigade 12th Battalion as a war correspondent and now reports for Janadesh weekly.
The Maoists have trained many young males and females like Adhikari to work as 'war correspondents' in their battalions and brigades. According to Manrishi Dhital, a reporter for Janadesh, there are about 50 rebel reporters in the paper from west Nepal. "It is better to work hard in the villages than sitting at a desk in Kathmandu. The job for the reporter becomes challenging and exciting," says Dhital, who adds that the journalists also get the chance to report from the battlefield. After joining the rebels, Dhital says he is able to write freely about the 'people's war'. The Maoists are organising a series of journalism trainings in Jajarkot, Accham, Kaski, Rukum, Syangja and Palpa to produce more war correspondents for each battalion. All of them will report for the pro-Maoist Janadesh weekly, which is published from four places in Nepal and abroad.