CHITAWAN, Nov 11: It was a cold November morning with the onset of winter. Beams of sunlight were just beginning to flood the yards of the houses. Dispersed marrigold and makhamali signaled the upcoming Tihar festival. Former Maoist combatant Ramchandra Mainali was surprised to see a group of people coming toward his house.
“We are members of the Special Committee Secretariat. We have come to see you,” said Bishwo Adhikari, a secretariat member. “We are here to learn how you are doing now after life in the cantonment,” said another member, Chiranjibi Bhandari.
“My youthful days were spent in war. Now I am busy managing my household and earning a living,” responded Mainali.
When the members of Special Committee Secretariat reached Padampur VDC on Saturday to meet ex-combatants settled in 200 bigha of public land, most of the former rebels were busy with household chores.
Some were decorating their houses while others were still constructing their abodes. Former Maoist fighter Sunmaya Pakhrin was preparing lunch. The four katta of unregistered land and a two-room house comprise her entire property, which she acquired for Rs 500,000 out of her retirement package. Pakhrin´s husband Ajaya Lama, also a former Maoist fighter, is preparing to join the national army.
Roving through the village of ex-combatants, the Special Committee Secretariat members found ex-rebel Juna Tamang making quilts beside her newly-built cement house. Juna said they have built a small home on two kathha of land out of the money she and her husband Rajkumar Tamang received as their retirement package.“We are planning to open a retail shop at home to make a living,” Juna said to the visiting SCS members.
Ex-combatants couple Sunita Pun and Dev Bahadur Budhathoki also built a house on land they bought with money they saved while living in the cantonment. “We must pay attention to the future of our two sons. We started civilian life with our retirement package but our future is still uncertain,” said Sunita.
Ex-fighters couple Dinesh BK and Shanti BK have already started a small shop with the money they managed to save. Shanti said they are having difficulty bringing up their children due to lack of employment.
Combatants who opted for voluntary retirement from the Third Division cantonment at Shatikhor are worried that their houses are not in close proximity like a village. “It is called a village but the houses are dispersed. It would have sounded good had there been a separate village of former combatants,” Ramchandra Mainali said.
He also said that everyone would benefit if the government could turn it into an ex-combatants´ village and a tourist spot.
“We all shared pain and joy in war and while living in the cantonment; it would have been easier for us to live in close proximity to each other,” Padam Lama said.
The ex-combatants trying to adapt to civilian life said they are the history behind the republic of Nepal. After their visit, SCS members expressed satisfaction over the situation of the ex-combatants. Eighty former combatants have built houses in 200 bigha of land at Padampur.