Former Maoist child soldiers, discontent with the party for discarding them unceremoniously during the peace process, have padlocked the office of CPN (Maoist-Centre) of Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda, trapping seven of the leaders inside the building here.
The leaders of the party which leads the government have been forced put inside the office since yesterday.
The former minor guerrilla fighters, most of them now in their 20s and struggling to find employment and raise their children, have threatened to continue the padlocking until the ruling party begins implementing the agreements reached with them. They demand proper rehabilitation and compensation.
“We lost our childhood fighting for the party. Now our leaders enjoy the power while we are left to struggle for a living,” said Lenin Bista, who heads the Discharged People’s Liberation Army Struggle Committee (DPLASC).
At least six of the leaders said they were unable to leave the party office as its main door remained padlocked.
The United Nation Mission in Nepal had disqualified 4,008 soldiers of the Peoples Liberation Army of then-rebel CPN (Maoist) saying they were minors, and as late recruits.
During the verification that ended in December 2007, it was found that 2,972 guerrillas were minors, while 1,036 were recruited into the Nepal Army under the army integration process in accordance with Comprehensive Peace Accord signed in 2006, when the Maoists joined politics by laying down arms.
However, the Maoist leadership delayed their release.
The “disqualified” child soldiers spent three years in cantonments in the hope of receiving rehabilitation packages.
“We are a young and strong force that has the experience of using weapons. But our strength has not been properly channeled,” said Bista, adding they wanted treatment specified by national and international laws related to child soldiers.
“My biggest mistake was to quit school to join the PLA. Without proper qualification I have no prospect of a good job,” said Manu BK, who was 15 when she joined the Maoist army.
She is now 26 and mother of two children aged 7 and 2.
Her husband, also a disqualified combatant, left for Qatar two years ago after failing to find work within the country.
The Maoist leadership, stating that the party does not have the resource to address their demands, has asked them to wait for the court’s verdict.
“The budget for the fiscal year earmarked NRs 200,000 for each of the former child soldiers. Unfortunately, a writ has been filed against the provision,” said Pampha Bhusal, the Maoist spokesperson.