KATHMANDU, Oct 14: Former Maoist combatants Ram Bahadur Lama and Bimala Panta have many things to cherish together. Coming from different castes, they not only fought shoulder to shoulder in many a guerrilla action against the state during the decade-long insurgency but also ended up tying the knot the Maoist ´janabadi´ way.
The saga of their heaven-made partnership didn´t end there, but took yet another unprecedented turn when both of them were selected for officer-level integration in the Nepal Army.
Aside from this joyful couple, there are other interesting aspects about the 71 ex-PLA personnel who were selected for inclusion in the Nepal Army at officer level. Basudev and Madhav Ghimire are the only sibling from the former Maoist army to be selected for induction into the NA as officers. The two, however, decided against the integration of Basudev´s wife in the national army and persuade her to opt for voluntary retirement.
Basudev Ghimire a.k.a. Pawel, a former PLA division vice-commander, has been recommended by the party for the rank of lieutenant-colonel, the second-highest position to be given to former Maoist commanders.
Both Ram Bahadur a.k.a. Bibek and Bimala a.k.a. Birangana have been recommended for the rank of major in the national army. Ram Bahadur joined the insurgency two years after it was launched in 1996. However, he was arrested a year later and spent three years in jail
Similarly, a brigade vice-commander in dissolved PLA, is the seniormost among four women selected for officer-level integration into the NA. Bimala, along with her elder and youngest sisters, were involved in the Maoist insurgency from its initial phase.
When Republica contacted her for her comment, she didn´t hide her displeasure with the Maoist leadership for handling the integration process, which many former combatants considered a ´humiliating surrender.´
“I never imagined that the party would compromise to such an extent and the people´s war would end in this manner. I never thought I would be in the Nepal Army one day as an officer,” Bimala told Reublica by phone.
However, she also sounded upbeat about her future and said she will apply her battlefield experience to advance her career in the NA.
The Ghimire brothers, who are from Pyuthan, joined the Maoist party in the initial period of the insurgency. “While joining the PLA, I had imagined that one day I would be in the national army. I now feel proud,” said Basudev by phone.