Plight of the Public
Dristi (4 January), a weekly newspaper in its report substantiating incidents of the excessive behaviour of the security forces alleged that "Security force personnel who are supposed to protect citizens are causing terror instead." The report said "people are losing their trust after security forces began misusing government owned weapons to kill, abduct, cheat, loot and rape civilians" and it condemned the inaction of superior officers to convince the public that strict action will be taken against law breaking personnel. Although 3,483 personnel ranging from constable to officers involved in various crimes have been punished, both the army and police have not been able to curb the illegal activities carried out by their men. Quoting a military specialist Indrajit Rai, the report said, "The security forces are taking advantage of vulnerable civilians terrified and traumatised by the Maoists," and blamed the police organization for not been able to discipline its own personnel. It concluded that lack of stern action against excesses by some law enforcing authorities was the reason for the repeated incidents of violence by the security forces.
In another report, Dristi (11 January) said the security forces have blockaded the roads as a retaliatory strategy against the Maoists. The rebels had barred buses from Salyan to Rukum after many villagers used the route to escape forced recruitment by the Maoists for road construction in the mid-Western region. The Maoists blockade on the one route and the security forces blockade on the other stalled the entire transportation in the region. The people from Rukum and Salyan districts were hit hardest. Essential supplies like rice grains, salt and others have not reached villages and it became worse after the rebels removed the markets which were near the villages. The Maoists have demanded the buses be registered with their "People's Government" and pay taxes. But the security forces warned the bus entrepreneurs of severe action if they pay taxes and register with the Maoists. People say, "We are caught in the middle between these gun-toting armies".
In a Weekly Newspaper, Deshantar (2 January), Nepali Congress (Democratic) leader Bal Bahadur supported merger with the parental party Nepali Congress and said, "In our party, it is the person (Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba) who has become powerful, but the organisation has remained weak? even after splitting and forming the splinter NC (D), the functioning style of our party has remained the same? and had shown no sign of being democratic." Secondly, Bal Bahadur agreed that elections is the best way, but he expressed misgivings about a free and fair election in the present situation without cooperation from the Maoists. "Hence there is a need to restore parliament. The country has not envisioned the state without Parliament. If the King, the Maoists and all quarters agree, Constituent Assembly can be a way out too." Thirdly, he said "On the issue of the Constituent Assembly, almost everyone agreed it was the third alternative. But majority believed that it would not be possible without the forces recognising one another." Finally, Bal Bahadur concluded that "No force can tackle the complex situation alone."
Maoist's 'War Zones'
Rajdhani (2 January) a daily newspaper, in its report, said the Maoists have transformed all the schools in Kalikot district into 'war zones' and have been using schools to lecture students, host Maoist cultural programs, as also for military training. They have got students and teachers to dig bunkers in the playgrounds and erect poles to prevent security force helicopters from landing. Nobody is allowed to leave the village because the Maoists need the manpower for digging. Most of the bunkers lead to nearby jungles or nearby villages to escape security force attacks. Defying the government school curriculum, a local rebel leader said, "We have been fighting and the bunkers aim at making practical education accessible to the common people." Above all, the insurgents have even imposed the 'one-house-one-bunker' policy to have a bunker in each house. Further, the report said that apart from the bunker construction, the students should work as sentries and collect firewood for the rebel's "people's meeting" or cultural programs.
Another report in Rajdhani, (11 January) said many villagers, who had launched the movement against Maoist atrocities, are now fleeing their villages fearing a counterattack by the rebels. Further, the report said rebels have been abducting and brutally beating villagers who rebelled against them and are not even sparing those who took part in the peaceful anti-Maoist campaign. The frightened villagers said, "They (Maoists) could kill us any time," and most of them of Pusakot, Naumule villages have deserted their homes and have taken refuge in Dullu Bazaar where an Army camp is located. The Maoists have threatened to start a "cleanup campaign" to punish those who joined the women's movement against the rebels and said "the resistance 'royalists' will be chased out very soon."
Annapurna Post (20 January) said that the health system in the rural areas is in a bad shape because of the non-availability of doctors. The report indicted the doctors who are more inclined towards profit making and work in their nursing homes. Citing the absence of appointed doctors in Lumbini and Seti hospitals, the report said that while the doctors are unwilling to serve in remote areas, the state run hospitals in the cities are also in a bad shape. "Many of these doctors do not treat their patients well in government hospitals, forcing them to go to private clinics and making them to pay for medicines that are available for free in government hospitals and health centres." The report emphasized the state's responsibility to put the system in order and called for more attractive allowances and other benefits for those working in rural areas.