Strategic Analysis

Strategic Analysis:
A Monthly Journal of the IDSA

Jan-Mar 2002 (Vol. XXVI No. 1)


Maoist Insurgency in Nepal: Examining Socio-Economic Grievances and Political Implications
Smruti S. Pattanaik * , Research Officer, IDSA



The Maoist Insurgency in Nepal is an offshoot of the socio-economic grievances accumulated over a period of time. Reintroduction of democracy in 1990 raised Nepalese expectations regarding governance. The political instability and frequent change in government gave less time to the parties to concentrate on the issues pertaining to economic development and social upliftment. While political survivability of the government remained shaky, the administrative corruption and mismanagement became the hallmark of the government. The Nepalese did not see much change in the political system because many leaders of the Panchayat regime continued to occupy important positions in the democratic regime. The Maoists capitalised on these grievances and convincingly articulated the aspirations of the people. Moreover, the Maoists established ‘Peoples Government’ in many parts of Nepal. Their ideology of a classless society appealed to the masses in these backward regions. Backed by a strong and committed cadre, the Maoists perpetuated violence by making the government offices defunct in areas under their control. The negotiations with the government failed due to the uncompromising stand taken by the Maoists. Their demands ranged from socio-economic issues, political agenda based on ideology to foreign policy issues. This paper analyses some of the grievances of the Maoists and examines why the political parties have not been able to address them. Morover, the implications of the foreign policy agenda of the Maoists on the Indo-Nepal relations are also examined. The paper also analyses whether the counter-insurgency method would succeed, if not, what could be the reasons, behind its failure.


The recent killings of the police and army personnel in Nepal have once again brought into focus the serious problems of internal security and political instability in the Nepalese kingdom. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who succeeded G. P. Koirala, had initiated talks with the Maoists in August 2001 to resolve the matter peacefully. However, after three rounds of talks beginning in August, the rebels withdrew from the negotiation in the first week of November and took to armed violence blaming the government for the failure of the talks. It is believed that Prachanda, the Chairman of the Maoist Communist Party was facing increasing opposition within his own ranks to the peace talks and had to back this violence to establish his credibility among the group. Some analysts have attributed it to the reported infighting between the moderate and the militant factions of the Maoist Communist Party. It is likely that the killings could have been aimed at putting pressure on the government to concede the rebels’ demand for a constituent assembly to frame a new constitution. The rebel sources said that having already been forced to drop a key demand earlier, which was the establishment of a republican regime, they could not be expected to be more flexible. It can be concluded that dropping of the key demand is a tactical move, because as long as the demand for a constituent assembly remained, republicanism too remained their ultimate goal. Whatever may be the cause; the killings expose the limitations of the security force in dealing with the situation. The incidents have made it clear that the Maoists were planning these attacks even as they began the peace talks in August. The Maoists were active in 68 districts out of the total 75 and had parallel governments in 32 of the districts. 1

The article takes a look into the factors that have created the socio-political space for the Maoists to grow in. It also analyses why the mainstream political parties have failed to take up public grievances and why certain societies have given rise to radical movements while in many other societies public dissatisfaction and its manifestation has remained relatively dormant.


The Background

The Maoist insurgency should be seen in the context of the Communist movement in Nepal. The Communists in Nepal are divided on the basis of their ideology and divergent in their approach to the political system and belief. After the introduction of the Panchayat system in 1960, the Communists in Nepal were divided on the future course of political action. The Communist Party along with the Nepali Congress was to pressure the king to restore the suspended parliament. Whereas one faction of the Communists was not averse to working with the King, the radicals among the Communists wanted to end the Panchayat regime and constitute an elected constituent assembly to draw up the constitution for Nepal. For the first time this group held a convention in 1974, which is known as the fourth convention and this group can be regarded as the parent organisation of the present Maoist group. Though the Jhapa uprising of 1972 was the first communist uprising against the Panchayat system, interestingly, this revolt was opposed by the party’s fourth convention as a “form of semi-anarchy”. However, by 1983 the fourth convention was weakened organisationally after one of its founder member, Mohan Bikram, formed the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal) and this grouping was further weakened after this party split into two factions, the Masal and Mashal. Though in 1990 all the factions of the Communists came together to form United Left Front, neither Mashal nor Masal joined the group, even when the Fourth Convention became a part of the United Front. The restoration of democracy did not see the fulfillment of one of the primary demands of these groups, that is the framing of the constitution by the elected constituent assembly. The Nepalese Constitution was promulgated in November 1990 by a drafting committee constituting representatives of various political parties and the monarchy. During the same month, various Communist groups that were opposed to the main Communist party of Nepal (UML) formed a new party commonly known as The Unity Centre. This party participated in the first parliamentary election as the United People’s Front, the political wing of the Unity Centre. However, some of the members did not give up the idea of an elected constituent assembly and a republican form of government. Before the mid-term elections in 1994, the Unity Centre witnessed a split. One faction was led by Nirmal Lama and one by Pushpakamal Dahal (Comrade Prachanda) later leading to a split in the United People’s Front constituting the Fourth Convention, Mashal and Masal. However, the Nepali Election Commission recognised only the faction led by Nirmal Lama as the United Front leader. Derecognition resulted in the Prachanda group boycotting the election and deciding to take up an arms struggle and initiate a ‘people’s war’. The Maoists became the members of Revolutionary International (RIM) later that year. For the first time a 38 point demand was put forward by the Maoists. This was reiterated in February 1996 when the ‘people’s war’ was launched. Two more demands were added to the original list. It is interesting to note that a similar list was presented to the Communist government in 1994. 2


Appealing Ideology

The Maoist rebels believe in the ideology of revolution to bring about political change through force and establish what they term as ‘peoples government’. Apart from ideological underpinnings, what has contributed to the growth of Maoism in Nepal is poor governance, corruption, apathetic attitude of the government towards integrated socio-economic development and most importantly political instability. By mid-nineties, the shortcomings of democracy had unfolded completely and the ethno-linguistic identity and the developmental aspect of the country had become politicised. Political instability coupled with internal political bickering among the leadership, especially within the Nepali Congress and among the various political parties, contributed to general dissatisfaction. Within few years, the administrative shortcomings became so apparent that the expectations of the people for better governance slowly diminished. The political instability affected the economic development and the government of the day became more concerned with its survivability rather than governance. Coupled with this corruption and the bureaucratic hazards involved in policy implementation added to the growing grievances of the people. This is evident from the fact that since 1990 Nepal has seen ten governments.

While misgovernance is an important factor, ethnic and linguistic alienation has played an important role in the marginalisation of the ethno-linguistic minorities. Cashing in on these grievances, the Maoists promised self-rule and autonomy to various ethnic groups. This can be understood in the context of formation of Nepali Janajati group demanding recognition of their language and culture. The pamphlet distributed on February 13, 1996 clearly established the political acumen of the Maoists in having exploited this dissatisfaction to strengthen their support base. The Maoists declared, “To maintain the hegemony of one religion (i.e. Hinduism), language (i.e.Nepali), and nationality (i.e.Khas), this state has for centuries exercised discrimination, exploitation and oppression against other religions, languages and nationalities and has comprised to fragment the forces of national unity that is vital for proper development and security of the country” 3 . The areas under the influence of the Maoists are extremely backward areas of Nepal where the reach of the government is difficult. Many of the Maoist cadres are drawn from the deprived section which has seen years of bad governance and is disillusioned with the government policy. Moreover, many of the political leaders are from the Panchayat era, who with the onset of democracy, have joined the political parties and come to power. Thus there was less qualitative change politically though the form of government became different. They felt that the only way to address their misery was to take up arms. In 1995-96 they were active in the mid-western districts of Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan, Jajarkot, Kalikot, Gorkha and Sindhulia, and by 1997 their influence had spread to Dang, Surkhet, Dolpa, Pyuthan, Lamjung, Tanahu, Dhading, Makawanpur, Kavre, Sindhupalchok, Ramechhap, Dolakha and Udayapur districts. 4 Prime Minister Deuba also acknowledges the popular support enjoyed by the Maoists. According to him, “The Maoists were successful in attracting the frustrated people . . . we are tackling corruption and other ills”. 5

The romanticism of the Maoist ideology and the assurance it gives to the common man to establish a society free from exploitation and the class bias has attracted people who are mostly from the poor and socially marginalised class. The mobilisation of this class is necessary to bring in revolution according to the Maoist ideology. For instance, the Maoist ideology talks about mobilising the peasants because they constitute a significant segment of the rural population. Mao as the head of the peasant department of the party, wrote “the upsurge of the peasant movement was a colossal event, that several hundred million peasants would rise and that would be a hurricane, a force so swift and violent that no power could hold it back”. 6 In this context the social revolution advocated by the Communists and the Maoists differs. While Communism emphasises revolution by industrial workers, Mao stressed on the peasant revolution. This is due to the fact that both the ideologies are relevant in the context of the prevailing social structure in their respective countries. Mao had “removed the Marxian revolution from its position as a course of action open only to advanced capitalist societies and placed it within the realm of possibility for any state, provided a revolutionary situation existed and a revolutionary party could guide the population towards consciousness”. 7 According to Mao “in a country where the working class was unavailable or unable to participate in the revolutionary movement, other classes – in a relationship with the dominant class similar in quality and nature to that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie – might have class consciousness and, therefore, revolution potential”. 8 The style of attack and organisation has been based on the Maoists line. Since Nepal is an agrarian society, the peasants’ dissatisfaction regarding land ownership has been exploited by the Maoist in these backward areas where even the agricultural land is comparatively less productive. This is more due to a lack of irrigation facilities and hilly terrain with less arable land. Faith of the cadre on the ability of Maoists emanates from the ‘efficient’ parallel administration the rebels have established. Moreover, the areas under the Maoist influence have also witnessed feudalism and exploitation. The Maoists have redistributed land in most of the areas under their control after burning property ownership records. Kathmandu has intervened in the state of affairs only to repress the movement rather than to bring any change in the socio-economic structure of these marginal regions infested with the Maoist ideology.


Support Structure

Funding for their operations comes from various taxes that the Maoists have imposed on the area under their control, private donation and extortion. People’s faith on the Maoists come from the fact that they have invested the taxes collected from land in the development of the village under their control. Their cadres are recruited from a committed group of young people that also includes women. Interestingly one third of the guerilla squads are women and every village has a revolutionary women’s organisation. 9 The women are influenced by the guerillas’ propagated ideology of gender and class equality, which they never had under the traditional social system. There are reports of criminals who have joined on the promise that they would be protected from the Nepali police. Their cadre’s strength is believed to be around 4,000-5,000 with a support base of several thousand more. 10

Main source of weapons for Maoist insurgents has been through raids on police stations. Another source of weapon procurement is from illegal arms markets. Other than firearms the Maoist rebels, in their operation, have used improvised explosive devices made from gelignite and locally manufactured grenades. In a couple of instances they have used landmines. There are speculations that the Maoists may have been trained by the retired Gorkha soldiers of both British and the Indian Army, mostly hailing from the areas under Maoist control. 11 The Maoists have collected funds largely through bank robbery, tax collection, voluntary donation and extortion from rich businessmen. It is reported that the Maoists have so far “looted Nepali Rs. 250 million from banks and other institutions . . . . In the form of ‘donations’ and ‘taxes’, the Maoist treasury could be well over Nepali Rs. 5 billion. 12


Underlining Grievances

The growth of Maoists can be attributed to economic factors like unemployment and lack of opportunities for gainful engagement. The idea for engaging unemployed youths in the ‘people’s war’ has its origins in the Maoist ideology. In China “the secret societies such as ‘Read Spear’ and ‘Great Knife’ had supporters in many parts of the country due to widespread unemployment in the villages and increasing militancy among a peasantry wanting land”. 13 The Maoist strategy was to “Arouse the large number of the masses in the shortest possible time and the best possible methods. These tactics are just like casting a net; at any moment we should be able to cast it or draw it in. We cast it wide to win over the masses and draw it in to deal with the enemy . . . . 14 ” It is important to note that Nepal is a predominantly agricultural country. While the agricultural sector accounts for between 40-45 per cent of GDP, roughly 80 per cent of the population is still employed in the agriculture sector. 15

Lopsided development and concentration of wealth are some factors that have added to the grievance list of the people. Since in Nepal many people are dependent on land for their livelihood, agricultural has become critical to the economic development. Land reforms are as old as 1964 where the government took some steps in land redistribution. These failed because many families registered excessive land in the name of their relatives. The UML in 1994 had appointed a Land Reform Commission commonly referred to as Badal’s Commission. However, the recommendations of the Badal Commission could not be implemented due to political instability. Though the Deuba Government has announced land reforms it is unlikely to make any significant difference to Nepal’s economy unless it involves a structural transformation. The problem can only be resolved if avenues can be created to generate employment in other sectors and divert people from the agricultural sector to other sectors for gainful employment. The following table elucidates the proposed land reforms both during the Communist regime and the ceiling proposed by Prime Minister Deuba and explains land distribution in various geographical regions and proposed ceiling.

Table-1: Land Reforms

Geographical Regions Current ceilings Badal Ceilings Proposed Ceilings
Hill Region 80 ropani (4.1) 40 ropani (2.0) 75 ropani (3.8)
Terai Region 25 bigha (17) 4.5 bigha (3.1) 10 bigha (6.8)
Kathmandu Region 50 ropani (2.6) 20 ropani (1.0) 30 ropani (1.5)

Note: These ceiling levels ignore the separate limits placed on land used for a homestead. Figures in parentheses are equivalent area in hectares (1 Ha. = 0.68 bigha = 0.051 ropani.)

Source: Data as cited in Prem Jung Thapa, “The Cost Benefit of Land Reform”, Himal, October 2001, p.31.


The areas under the Maoist stronghold hardly have the modern infrastructure such as roads, schools, medical facilities or electricity. The Koirala Government had launched a programme called “basket fund” to the tune of US$2.6 million for economic upliftment. It allocated double that amount or US$4.72 million, to purchase weapons to deal with the Maoists. The government also created a 15,000 Armed Police Force to deal with the insurgency. 16 This itself elucidates the fact that the government is more amenable to a military solution rather than tackling basic grievances.

Political parties over the years have also not paid any attention to the development of these affected areas. Internal political squabbling and regime stability have been the preoccupation, instead. The political space provided by the parties has been occupied by the Maoists to hijack the basic agenda of economic development which should have been a concern of a political party. They have nurtured, sustained and encouraged the antipathy of the people against the leaders. Unless there is a commitment to socio-economic development military action would only aggravate the situation. What is needed at the moment is the combination of the carrot and stick treatment and not just the stick alone.

According to a study by a Kathmandu based think-tank, the Nepal South Asia Centre, “71 per cent of the wealth even in relatively well developed capital is in the hands of the top 12 per cent of the households, and only 3.7 per cent of the national income reaches the poorest 20 per cent of the country’s family”. 17 “ . . . The per capita income in Kathmandu averages Rs. 20,939 (US$312), while it is as low as Rs. 5,000 in the poorest district in the northwest region”. 18 It is estimated that with an “Average economic growth, approximately four per cent per a year for the past five years, is insufficient to absorb the estimated 500,000 young people who join the labour force each year”. 19 This statistics underlines grimness of the situation and the problem that Nepal would face in the future.


Lack of Coherent Counter-Insurgency Strategy

Political parties in Nepal do not have a common strategy to deal with the problem. The opposition parties treat it as the problem of the government. The Nepali Government initially considered the Maoist insurgency as a law and order problem. Action was initiated against the Maoists in 1995. It was code-named ‘operation Romeo’ in Rolpa and Rukum area and involved the torture and arrest of the many suspected Maoists. This, however, did not help the government other than in achieving short-term objectives of controlling the situation. This alienated large segments of the population and strengthened the Maoist resolve to fight for a ‘class-less’ society and their rights more convincingly. The political instability, especially after the 1994 mid-term elections, resulted in a hung parliament.

The government policy towards the Maoist insurgency was incoherent and lacked a well-defined strategy. While politicians were squabbling for power, the Maoists strengthened their cadre. In 1997, the UML government tried to introduce a terrorism law to give the police wide-ranging powers to deal with the insurgency. The law was later withdrawn due to the lack of support from other political parties, intelligentsia and the human rights groups. 20 The government efforts to initiate talks also failed due to several preconditions set by the rebels. Some of the preconditions put forward by the Maoists are: insurgents killed in police action to be declared as martyrs, release of party cadres lodged in various jails, and withdrawal of police from the insurgency affected areas. With violence increasing and a political solution to the problem not within sight, the government adopted strong-arms measures. The government in 1998 started operations against the Maoists in 18 districts considered to be the strongholds of the rebels, resulting in wide-spread killing and torture of the suspected rebels. 21 This caused further alienation of the people. Employing police actions without corresponding socio-economic measures to alleviate the grievances of the people failed to achieve the desired effect. At the same time due to violence and killing, the government officials found it difficult to operate from the region under the Maoist control.

There has been change of government twice after the recent election over the Maoist issue. The Nepali Congress in the past had announced an ‘Integrated Formula’ which included the launching of a political campaign against the Maoists, introducing developmental package for the backward areas and giving people the assurance of protection from Maoist violence if they cooperate with the government. At the same time government announced amnesty and support to those guerrillas who give up arms and pledge peaceful life under the Ganesh Mansingh scheme. All these policies could not succeed due to the rigid stand taken by the government and the Maoists. Earlier the palace was extremely reluctant to use the army to fight their own people in their own country. Though the army was deployed in the areas hardest hit by insurgency, till recently it was insisting on a common consensus among the political parties for their large-scale deployment.

Increasing attacks on police stations, on army units and government offices are not only a violent show of strength but are loaded with symbolism. An attack on the apparatus of the state is equivalent to the striking at the very foundation of a political system which the cadres reject. Moreover, such daring attacks on the police station and government offices have reinforced faith of its cadre in the method. The government action do not evoke trust of the Maoist. For instance, in November 2000, the government in a conciliatory approach towards the Maoists and in order to open talks, freed a central committee member of the organisation. However, he was made to denounce insurgency and this itself created suspicions about the government’s motives behind the serious negotiations to solve the problem. The action of the government was interpreted by the Maoists as scoring a political point and was also perceived as a measure to discredit their movement. Thus, the effort to begin talks failed.

According to some estimates, till April 2001, 1900 people have been killed in the insurgency. Interestingly, the Maoists while adopting a political posture vis-à-vis the government have established their autonomous political entity – a state within the state. The Maoists announced the formation of People’s Revolutionary Government in 17 districts of Nepal. In these districts the insurgents levy taxes, provide justice, solve common problems, manage agriculture and at the same time provide security to the villagers. These are the issues which, should have been on the agenda of the government. The government’s initiatives have been half-hearted due to corruption in the local administration and incapability of the implementing authority. Moreover, after insurgency broke out any initiative by the government was frustrated by the Maoists. In 1997 the Maoists even threatened the local elections by vowing to kill those who contested the elections and those who would cast the ballot. Finally, the elections were held only after the security forces were deployed on a large scale.

The police forces are not equipped to fight the well-armed and motivated insurgents. They are unable to tackle the problem because of a lack of modern equipment and also a lack of motivation arising from the government’s halfhearted policies concerning insurgency. Moreover, the police force is not adequately trained to deal with the insurgents. They also gets demoralised due to frequent criticism by the human rights watch groups for rights abuse. It is also a problem for the police to distinguish a Maoist sympathiser from a collaborator and supporter. The police force is frustrated owing to the lack of sophisticated weapons to deal with the insurgency and these frustrations have resulted in torture, illegal detention and in some cases even led to the disappearance of suspects. Instead of dealing with the situation to bring peace, police actions have aggravated it. The Nepali Army is opposed to the upgrading of the weaponry of the police force due to their institutional interests. As a result, the operations against the Maoists have been inadequate.

On taking over as the prime minister, Deuba introduced land reforms and initiated talks with the rebels after halting the operation against them. In the third and most recent round of talks in the first week of November, the Maoists had even dropped their demands regarding a republican system. However, around mid-November the leaders of the insurgent groups declared that the cease-fire was over, although their basic stand remained as was evident from an interview of Baburam Bhattarai, the Maoist leader. He emphasised that the basic goal of the Maoists is “a people’s republic and socialism and communism”. 22 There are also apprehensions regarding the brewing rift within the Maoist party and the increase in dominance of the hardliners in the party. This dominance is attributed to be one of the reasons behind the withdrawal of the Maoist leaders from the peace talks with the government. 23 While talking to a regional media, the NCP (Maoist) Chairman Prachanda, said, “It is up to the people to decide whether or not they want a republican state. This is why we are demanding the election of a constituent assembly. We have put forth this demand as the best and the last alternative to peace. If the government does not address our demands and the talks fail, we will be compelled to take up arms once again”. 24 Backed by the main opposition parties, the government has rejected the call for an elected constituent assembly or to take any initiative to declare Nepal as a secular state. The government has reiterated that it does not have the mandate to scrape the present constitution which guarantees the constitutional monarchy and the multi-party parliamentary democracy.


Implications for Indo-Nepal Relations

Maoists have exploited the prevailing ‘anti-Indianism’ of the elite. In Nepal the Nepali nationalism is often interpreted as synonymous with anti-Indianism. Misgovernance and economic backwardness is attributed to various policies adopted by India. Many people resent the geographical realities, which make Nepal dependent on India. In fact many Nepali political parties have played on this sentiment and have exploited this to establish domestic credibility. Even to the Maoists this has been an easy way to establish domestic credibility and reiterate their patriotism. 25

One of the demands of the Maoists is the abrogation of the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950 and annulment of the Mahakali Treaty. Though at present the Joint Working Group, constituting officials from both the countries has had several meetings regarding the revision of the 1950 Treaty, nothing concrete has been achieved so far. Though the Nepali side is eager about the revision, it has been unable to propose what exactly would be incorporated in a new Treaty. Moreover, the Mahakali Treaty itself has been ratified by the Nepali Parliament. Though both the issues are highly controversial in Nepal and have been used by the political parties to increase their domestic credibility, there is not much scope for revision unless Nepal has an alternative proposal. India has a porous border with Nepal. It is reported that the Maoists have linkages with the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) active in Bihar and the Peoples War Group (PWG) in Andhra Pradesh. Though both these groups have ideological linkages with the Maoists of Nepal and there is a possibility of sharing operational skills, it is less likely that the group active in India would be supplying weapons to the Maoists in Nepal.

The spillover effect of the Maoist insurgency would have implications for Indo-Nepal relations. Any close coordination of the Maoist groups functioning in both the countries could create more problems for the security forces since the open border can be used as a conduit for illegal arms. There is, so far, no evidence of the Chinese involvement in the problem in Nepal. India has to tread carefully because stability in neigbouring Nepal is of strategic importance. It would be prudent for India not to offer any suggestions on the issue unless asked for. If requested, India can help Nepal in gathering intelligence, training its police force and the army in counter-insurgency operations and supply necessary weapons. At the same time India should be careful enough not to get directly involved in the counter-insurgency efforts of the Nepalese Government. There are reports that many of the insurgents are likely to cross the Indo-Nepal border into India to escape the army action. The Indian Government has sounded a red-alert along the border. India is also apprehensive about the links of Nepal’s Maoists to the MCC and PWG, and their suspected links with the United Liberation Front of Assam and other separatist groups 26 . There is a need for both the countries to cooperate closely and evolve a joint strategy to deal with the insurgents and their linkages with each other. Since the border is open it would be difficult to tackle the problem with a unilateral strategy.


Present Scenario

The army has been employed to deal with the Maoists and emergency has been declared in Nepal. The government resolve to fight terrorism can be accomplished with the cooperation of not only the political parties but also the palace. However, military solution to the problem would be a short-term gain. To deal with the problem in a comprehensive manner the government needs to implement developmental planning and land reforms. Moreover, since Nepal is largely dependent on revenue from its tourism industry the insurgency would affect the flow of tourists and this would compound political problems and ultimately the political stability.

Even if Nepal succeeds in counter-insurgency measures to deal with the Maoists and is able to alleviate socio-economic problems, the issue of bringing the radical cadre of the ultras to the mainstream politics would be a difficult proposition. 27 Another aspect of the problem is that the Maoists have been able to hold their sway due to the socio-economic grievances of the people. Though the Maoists have used these grievances to strengthen their cadres and have succeeded in earning people’s faith, the focus of their last negotiations with the government do not reflect their concern for the public. The issues that were discussed in the three rounds of discussions affirm the fact that the Maoists are more interested in their larger political agenda i.e. an elected constituent assembly. If the Maoist leadership eventually decides to join the mainstream politics, it would need to negotiate with the government for economic development of the region. This would, in the long run, help them to strengthen their political base since creating an ideological state in Nepal by encashing only on common political grievances is too far-fetched a scheme. People are more interested in the economic well-being. They are not concerned whether Nepal is a republic or a constitutional monarchy. If the Maoists fail to deliver as representatives of the people of the underdeveloped region of Nepal, it would lead to their political failure. This would lead to the death to the Maoist movement and their cardinal principles of establishing a people’s republic would die even before taking shape.

According to Thomas A. Marks, who has worked extensively on Maoist insurgency, “Maoist insurgency is a technique for purposive (i.e. deliberate) action. It is a means to an end, political power; political power to be seized for the purpose of overthrowing the existing order . . . only democracy offers a realistic counter to the Maoist approach”. 28 Only a vibrant democracy with economic progress would deal with the Maoist problem in Nepal. The political parties of Nepal therefore have a greater responsibility. Only time will tell whether a fractious political party like the Nepali Congress and uncooperative opposition like the United Marxist and Leninst party could mend their political differences to find a lasting solution to the Maoist problem.



The author thanks Shri K. Santhanam and Shri Sujit Dutta for their comments and suggestions.



Note *:   Dr. Smruti S. Pattanaik, a Research Officer, has a PhD degree from the South Asian Studies Division of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She specialises on security issues pertaining to the South Asia region. Back.

Note 1:   Rohan Gunaratne, “Nepal’s Insurgents Balance Politics and Violence”, Jane Intelligence Review, October 2001, p. 33. Back.

Note 2:   For the details about the History of the Communist Movement see Deepak Thapa, “Day of the Maoist”, Himal, 14(5) May 2001, pp. 44-45. Back.

Note 3:   Ibid., p. 11. Back.

Note 4:   Rohan Gunaratna, n. 1, pp. 32-33. Back.

Note 5:   Kathmandu Post, December 5, 2001. Back.

Note 6:   As cited in Walter Laqueur, Guerrilla: A Historical and Critical Study, 1977. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. p.243-44. For details regarding Maoist strategy see pp. 244 -252. Back.

Note 7:   Thomas A. Marks, Maoist Insurgency Since Vietnam, 1996. Frank Cass, London. p. 9. Back.

Note 8:   Ibid. Back.

Note 9:   Chitra Tiwari, “Nepal Maoist Insurgency, South Asia Monitor no.31, March 1, 2001 Back.

Note 10:   There are usually two women in each unit of 35-40 men; they are used to gather intelligence and as couriers. Rohan Gunaratne, n.1, p. 33. Back.

Note 11:   Chitra Tiwari, n. 9. Back.

Note 12:   Deepak Thapa, n. 2, p. 14. Back.

Note 13:   Walter Laqueur, n. 6, p. 243. Back.

Note 14:   “Selected Military Writings of Mao Tse-tung” (Peking, 1968), p.72 as cited in Laqueur, n. 6, p. 244-45. Back.

Note 15:   Prem Jung Thapa, “The Cost-Benefit of Land Reform”, Himal, 14(10), October 2001, p. 30. Back.

Note 16:   See Chitra K. Tiwari, n. 9. Back.

Note 17:   Cited in Bertil Lintner, “Nepal Struggles to Cope With Diehard Maoist Violence”, Jane’s Intelligence Review, June 1999, p. 43. Back.

Note 18:   Ibid Back.

Note 19:   See Chitra K. Tiwari, n. 9. Back.

Note 20:   See Deepak Thapa, n. 2, p. 13. Back.

Note 21:   According to Deepak Thapa, This counter insurgency incident known as ‘Kilo Sierra’ 2 was a result of several colluding factors. Most important being a political class of ruling and opposition parties that saw the Maoist as an aberration best liquidated; a national educated class that refused to demand performance from the politicians even fashionably opposing the proposed ‘black law’. See Deepak Thapa, n. 2, p. 13. Back.

Note 22:   Janadesh, November 13, 2001 as cited in Nepal Press Digest, 14(46), November 15, 2001, p. 520. Back.

Note 23:   According to a report in the Kathmandu Post, the Maoist cadres in the mid-western hill were supportive of Ram Bahadur Thapa (Badal) who is a military commander and was against the peace talks and even giving up of the core Maoist demand for a republican state. See Kathmandu Post, November 9, 2001. Back.

Note 24:   Janadisha, November 19, 2001 as cited in Nepal Press Digest, 44(47) November 22, 2001, p. 529. Back.

Note 25:   In a pamphlet called “Two Momentous Years of Revolutionary Transformation’, Comrade Prachanda brands the Nepalese authorities “this government of Indian Stooges”, and Bhatarai in his “Politico Economic Rationale of People’s War in Nepal”, calls his country “India locked” and goes on to state that “the biggest direct manifestation of world imperialist oppression and exploitation in Nepal is Indian expansionist exploitation and oppression”. As cited in Bertil Lintner, n. 17, p. 45. Back.

Note 26:   According to Rohan Gunaratna the internal organisation with whom the Maoist have links are All Nepal Women Association, All Nepal Intellectual Organisation, All Nepal Independent Students Union (revolutionary), All Nepal Lower Caste Association, All Nepal Communist Youth League, All Nepal Teachers Association, All Nepal Pagent Association, Young Nepal Communist League, National People’s War Coordination Committee, All Nepal Trade Union, All India Nepali Union Society. Externally the Maoists have link with ULFA, Northern Bihar Liberation Front, Bharatiya Communist Party (Maoist), Maoist Communist Centre, PWG, Revolutionary Organisation of Radical Youth League, Bharat Ekta Samaj, All Nepal Youth Association (Chennai Committee) of India; they are suspected to have links with the LTTE of Sri Lanka, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) of Peru, League of Phillippines Student, Phillippines, Revolutionary International Movement. See Rohan, n. 1, p. 33. Back.

Note 27:   C.K.Lal, Nepal’s Maobadi”, Himal, November, pp. 46-47. Back.

Note 28:   Thomas A. Marks, n. 7, p. 2. Back.