Nepal: Maoists Versus Gurkhas


May 26, 2007: So far this year, the number of violent incidents involving Maoists has declined by more than half (from 90 in January to 40 in April), but has stabilized at about a dozen a week. These consist of things like extortion and bullying of government and foreign aid group officials. The Maoists appear to believe they can take over with political, rather than military, pressure.

May 25, 2007: The Maoists now propose to halt British and Indian recruiting of Gurkha tribesmen for military service. About two hundred Gurkhas a year get into the British army (some 15,000 apply annually). About 3,400 Gurkhas serve in the British army, and 40,000 in the Indian army. This mercenary arrangement has been going on for two centuries, and is a major source of good jobs for young Gurkhas. This is out of a total population of only about half a million Gurkhas. But a high birth rate produces plenty of young men, and most of them line up each year to try and get a job in the British or Indian armies. While the Gurkhas (actually called Gurungs) have a much larger impact on the country (of 26 million) than their population would imply. The retired Gurkha soldiers make up a large chunk of the countries middle class, and are hostile to many Maoist ideas. However, some of the Maoist leaders in Gurkha areas are Gurungs. This is partly because of the high degree of corruption in the Nepalese justice system. Judges are easy to buy, which leaves most people without legal recourse. The Maoists provide an alternative, with a lot of communist ideology thrown in. A lack of justice and jobs makes leaving the country to be a soldier, or any other kind of job, attractive to young Nepalese. The country is poor, and going abroad to work is very popular. The Maoists appeal to national pride in trying to stop the British army recruiting will not get far when confronted with economic necessity.

May 21, 2007: Demonstrations by the 31,000 Maoist fighters in UN ceasefire camps, has caused the government to increase monthly cash allowances, and make improvements in camp infrastructure.

May 14, 2007: A bomb went off at a truck stop in the south, wounding fifteen people. Criminals, rather than political groups, are suspected. Extortion is common in the trucking business. At the same time, oil shipments resumed from India, after the oil companies agreed to a repayment schedule for past shipments.

May 13, 2007: Thousands of Maoists surrounded parliament and demanded that the monarchy be abolished. The Maoists plan to use more such demonstrations to get their way.


Article Archive

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