Armed Struggles in Nepal | Maoist Insurgency in Nepal
The Armed Struggle of 1951
After the rebellion of Lakhan Thapa, and excluding numerous conflicts over power, killings and petty rivalries within the places, the movement of 1951 stands out as the first case of armed uprising of the people against the rulers and their system. This movement, which ended the 104-year-old Rana family rule, is an important event in the history of Nepal. The armed uprising by the ‘Liberation Army’, organized under the leadership of the Nepali congress, started from Birgunj. Noted Nepalese historian Balchandra Sharma writes in Nepalko Aitihasik Ruprekha: Thee liberation army the Nepali congress entered Birgunj at midnight on 11 November 1950 with 25 to 40 troops. One section was led by Thirbam Malla kept Bada Hakim, the commissioner, Som Shamser in captivity until four in the morning. They captured the barracks, the liberation army had to engage itself in a prolonged battle. They managed to capture the barracks at seven in the morning when the soldiers in the barracks surrendered. After this, and with the capturing of the prison, the township of Birgunj came under the control of the liberation army. This was the first organized and planned struggle against an autocratic regime and for democracy in Nepal. Thirbam Malla was injured in the struggle, and he died at 10 clock in the evening18.
During this movement to overthrow the autocratic Rana regime, the liberation army captured Upardangadhi, Bhirahawa, Dangdeukhuri, Liwang, Pyuthan, Salayan, Jajarkot Nepalgunj, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Doti, Baitadi, Surkhet, Palpa, Bandipur, Gorkha & some other places in western Nepal. They made captive the commissioner the Bada Hakim-or turned them to their side, & declared the people’s government. Similarly, the liberation army attacked Biratnagar in the east at midnight on 12 November. Bal Chandra Sharma writes of the incident: “………..with four-five sten-guns, an equal number of revolvers, and some hand grenades and five crackers, soldiers of the liberation army attacked Biratnagar under the leadership of Shiva Jung Rana, Bishwa Bandhu Thapa, Keshar Prasad Koirala, Gehendra Hari Sharma, Kul Deep Jha and Girija Prasad Koirala. The liberation army managed to acquire control over most of Biratnagar, although they could not capture the house of the Bada Hakim. After Biratnagar, the liberation army captured Rangeli and proceeded to Jhapa; and after acquiring control over Jhapa, it returned & attacked Biratnagar for the second time on 10 December. It managed to acquire control over most part of Biratnagar by 23 December, although Bada Hakim Uttam Bikram bravely continued to resist it. After converting a tractor into a makeshift tank at the local jute mill, the liberation army managed to capture the house of the “Bada Hakim”.19
The liberation army had to engage in a long drawn out battle with the government troops, who had come from Birgunj to suppress the people’s government established near Biratnagar at Kushuwaha Ghat on the bank of the Koshi River on 29 December. Earlier, the liberation army had managed to capture Udayapurgadhi, Jayapur, Jayanagar Railway Mahinathpur station on 18 November, Pashupatinagar in the night of 22 November, Phikkal Bazzar, Bhojpur, Dingla, Khotang and Okhaldhunga on successive later and Malngawa in the night of 12 December.20
Although the liberation army disciplined, their lack of expertise in warfare and firearms, shortage of weapons and lack of facilities for training hundred them. Despite this, the armed uprising from the people’s side managed to overthrow the century old Rana rule in 1951. Several people including Thirbam Mall, Dharm Dhoj Gurung, Khadga Bahadur, Dharm Dhoj Shrestha, Santa Bahadur Rana, Chandra Bahadur Karki died in this struggle is the first organized and planned armed uprising in Nepal from the people’s side against on established rule.
After the ushering of democracy in 1951, there were some incidences of armed conflicts in 1959, the first parliamentary election was held and by wining a two third of majority in the parliament, the Nepali Congress formed the government under the prime minister ship of BP Koiral. However, talking advantage of the shortsighted polices of the Nepali Congress and the increasing instability in the country, King Mahendra dissolved the government as well as the parliament and imposed the party less Panchyat System in 1960. The political parties were banned, the leaders of the main political parties- the Nepali Congress and the Nepal Communist Party-were arrested and those not arrested went into exile in India. Despite this, underground political activities continued, and there were only two options: struggle or surrender. Both these two attitudes were prevalent simultaneously within the two parties.
The Armed Struggle After 1961
On 22 January 1962 while King Mahendra was on a visit to Janakpur, the young activists of the Nepali Congress-Durganad Jha, Arabinda Thakur, Punyadev Thakur, Mithilesh Sharma- threw a bomb at him. The King escaped unhurt in this attack, although the vehicle in which he was traveling was damaged.
Durganand Jha and his colleagues had arrived that morning at 10 O’ clock in Janakpur along within the bomb obtained from the Nepali Congress camp at Jayanagar. The operation was preplanned among the group members. But, Arbind Thakur was caught right at the airport, before the attack. Durga Nand Jha wa caught some time after the attack. He was brought to Kathmandu and two years later executed in prison on 18 January 1964.
The attack on the king was followed by armed uprising in various parts of the country by the Nepali Congress. On 28 May 1962 in Amarpur, Gulmi, the armed rebels battled with the Royal Nepalese Army. The leader of the rebels Shamser Bahadur Khatri was caught and tied to a pole. His nose, ears, lips, fingers, cheeks and penis were cut, and he died a gruesome death. Moti Prasad Bhushal also died in the incident.
After the imposition of the Panchayati regime, a rebel organization named “Armed Rebels Goorkha” with 15 members was formed under the leadership of Tek Bahadur Gurung. He had been involved in the incident at Bharatpur. Chitwan in 1961. The rebel organization and the army exchanged fire for eight hours at Chitwan Dhori in 1961. Tika Dutta Thapaliya, who had brought weapons from abroad and had engaged in battles against the army and evaded capture, was killed in the battle. Several other people were also killed in the armed uprising of 1961 in various other parts of the country.
In 1962, an armed rebel group of almost 100 men proceeded from Pithauragadh to Bajhng with the objective of liberating Bajhang. The group named “Guerillas of the Nepali Congress” was led by Omjung had a 303 riffle each. When the group reached the Bitthad Lek on the border of Bajhang, the army surrounded it. In their attempts to escape, some of the rebels including Omjung hid in a cave at Latinath. The army followed and killed them on 3 October 1962. Altogether, 11 rebels were killed. Five others who had been caught were killed at a place called Kathapate in Baitadi on October 1662, while they were being taken to Dahngadhi.
The Armed Struggle of Jhapa
The uprising of Jhapa is one of the most talked about among the various armed struggles in the country. The Jhapa district committee of the then Nepal communist party, after fundamental differences with the center, went on a separate path with the policy of eliminating class enemies. The landless and downtrodden farmers in Jhapa were organized under the leadership of Netra Ghimire, Ram Nath Dhahal, and Biren Rajbansi. A plan was hatched to kill the local landlords who had been exploiting the poor and the downtrodden. Under a policy of “one area, one unit, one action”, groups armed with guns, spears and khukuris started attacking the landlords in 1971. this was the first planned armed uprising by the communists in the country. The objectives, goals and targets were clear; and there was clarity among the rebels on the method to be used. The poor and downtrodden, which had been exploited for centuries by the landlords, were involved in the uprising following the increase in political consciousness among them. “Without killing the landlords and fighting with the army, people’s democracy will not come about through begging”- these lines taken from a revolutionary song popular at the time of the Jhapa uprising clear show why and against whom the struggle was directed.
The Jhapa uprising began on 15May 1971with an organized attack on a local landlord. Some landlords were killed after this. The uprising reached a climax with the attack on Dharma Prasad Dhakal, the local landlord in Shanishchare, on 26 December 1971. The attack drew the attention of the entire action towards the Jhapa uprising. The Panchayati regime arrested thousands of people and inflicted atrocities on hundreds of them. Ram Nath Dahal, Netra Ghimire, Biren Rajbansi, Narayan Shrestha and Krishna Kuikel were killed in the jungles of Sukhani on 5 march 1973 allegedly while arresting them.
A pamphlet in the name of the Nepal communist party, Jhapa District committee, released three days after the killings on 8 March 1973,reads as follows: “Since almost two years ago, the revolutionary peasants of Jhapa-under the leadership of the communist party- have deprived the exploiting class of their hegemonies right to kill the downtrodden and exploiting landlords. This was the beginning of the armed guerrilla struggle, under the leadership of the communist party (Marxist-Leninist), to acquire control over the local authority. This uprising is a part of the strategy of the long-term people’s war to establish a people’s army as well as a base area, and capture the towns from the villages in order to acquire nation-wide control.”
In an attack by the police on a house in Nadiyabad, Jhapa on 31 July 1972, Chandra Dangi was killed; and most of the leaders of the uprising were arrested. Although the ruthless suppressions that followed managed to contain it, the uprising nevertheless achieved international prominence. The uprising was followed by the unification in the communist movement of the country, which had been hitherto fragmented. The leaders of the Jhapa uprising formed the All Nepal Revolutionary Coordination Party (Marxist Leninist) in 1978. The famous Nakkhu Jail- breaks by 15 revolutionaries associated with the Jhapa uprising is still remembered as a link in the series. The revolutionaries dug a 3ft long tunnel from one of the rooms in the jail and courageously managed to escape to the outside world.
Armed Struggles of Nepali Congress
When the Panchayati regime banned the political parties and revoked various rights of people, the Nepali Congress again embarked in the armed struggle against the regime, which continued till 1975. On 25 August 1972, a group of young activists associated with the Nepali Congress attacked the Haripur police post. A constable and a policeman were killed; and another policeman was injured in the night. After this, an armed group led by Ganaga Bahadur battled with the police on 15 December 1973. Some people were killed in this confrontation. Prior to this, on 5 May 1973, a grenade was thrown at then minister of transportation Pryag Raj Singh Suwal. Although the minister was unhurt, other people were injured. The man who threw the No 36 grenade was Shiv Prasad Kangal of the Nepali Congress. Four hundred and one persons were arrested in connection with this incident. Likewise, the police arrested Bam Bahadur on 17 April 1974 when he was about to bomb the Phurse police post Daharan.
During the King Birendra’s visit to Biratnagar, a bomb was thrown at him on 14 March1975. Although the king was unhurt, several other people were injured. Bhim Narayan Shrestha was arrested and jailed in connection with this incident. He was shot dead four years later on 6 February 1979.
Of the various armed struggles directed by the Nepali Congress, the Okhaldhunga uprising stands out as the one in which a large number of revolutionaries were killed. The uprising was led by Captain Yagya Bahadur Thapa along with more 50 activists of the Nepali Congress including Gopal Rai, Agamani Rai, Bala Raj Karki and Chetra Dhoj Basnet. The revolutionaries had trained in exile in India. Armed with weapons, they traveled from Vanarasi to Madubani, and proceeded along the Kamala River in Sindhuli towards Okhaldhunga. The objective was to destroy the Royal Nepalese Army barrack there and capture the town. Each person in the group had two No 36 grenades and one sten gun. They also had some Brunei pistol and revolvers as well as 150 rounds of cartridges. While the revolutionaries were moving through the Chure hills on their way from Kamala Gorge to their destination, their plan had already been leaked to the government.Plan
The revolutionaries had planned to attack Salleri on 26 December 1974. A group including Agammani Rai, Shiva Kumar Rai, Chandra Bahadur Rai and Lal Bahadur were to attack upon the police post; another group including captain Yagya Bahadur Thapa, Krishna Bahadur, Man Bahadur and Mahesh Koirala were attack upon the prison; and yet another group including Lok Bahadur Gurung, Jasdhan Rai, Ram and Laxman were to attack upon the district administrative office. However, before they could even reach their destination, the government had mobilized the army at all-important locations of Okhaldhunga and Solukhubmu. The armed warriors had decided to spend a night in a cave in the jungle of Timburbote in Okhaldhunga. But the army had already surrounded the place. At 5 o’clock in the evening, the army attacked exploding about 25 genders; many revolutionaries were killed inside the cave. Some of them who had been injured were also killed while they were trying to escape from the cave. Among those killed were Agammani Rai, Shyam Kumar Gurung, Padam prakash giri, Mahila Rai Man Bahadur karki and Peshal Dahal. Those arrested-Harka Bahadur karki, Ram Kumar Sunwar and others-were taken to the Toksel jungle and shot dead. Captain Yagya Bahadur Thapa who had managed to escape along with Lok Bahadur Gurung and Jasdha Rai was arrested some time later. He was put in the central jail in Kathmandu. From the jail, he was taken back to Kamala Gorge and shot dead in the jungle in the night of 6 February 1979.
Armed Struggle under Communist Influence
Ratna Kumar Bantawa-founder and central committee member of the then Nepal communist Party (Marxist-Leninist)-was working in the eastern hills with Ilam as his base. His objective was to spread the Communist ideology and organize people at the grass root level with the belief that Ilam could be converted. He had been training the politically conscious youths in various activities from using weapons to digging tunnels. The government, despite all sorts of efforts, had not been successful in catching Bantawa who had gone underground. The police finally surrounded him along with his comrades on 9 April 1979. And, he was killed in the firing that followed.
The efforts of the communist party in raising awareness among the people against the Pachayat regime cannot be underestimated. In a very short time, the people of chhintang in Dhankuta district became politically aware and organized. This political mobilization incurred the wrath of the government and the local administration. After massive planning and preparation, the police force was mobilized to suppress the people. However, the police had to retreat following an attack by the armed revolutionaries and the people. The government, subsequently, stepped up its violent repression and brutalities. And among the people who resisted, 16 including Gopal Ananda Rai, Bhairav Bahadur Rai, Bal Bahadur Khatri, Danbir Darji, Gambhir Man Darji, Tanka Bahadur BK, Hakhima Rai, Jahendra Rai, Putraman Rai, Chandra Bahadur Damai, Ganga Bahadur Rai and Ram Kumari Rai were killed.
Following the incident at chhintang, which was a significant event among the various armed struggles in the country, there were other armed struggles carried out by the communist party. These include the uprising at Barre in Arghakanchi, Jugedi in Chitwan, Jutpani and Dang.
Maoist Movement in Nepal
In 1971, under the influence of both the teaching of Mao- Tse Tung and the experience of Charu Mazumdar, architect of the Naxalite uprising in India, young party activities in Jhapa, in the eastern Terai, formed the Koshi Regional Committee of the CPN, later known as the All Nepal Revolutionary co-ordination Committee (ML). These young activists launched an underground guerrilla movement (popularly known as the Jhapa uprising), in line with the concept of ‘the protracted people’s war’. The Jhapa uprising was first attempt by Nepali Communist to undertake armed struggle as a central component of the revolutionary strategy. The movement actually started from Jymirgadi village in Jhapa, 16 May 1971 and attracted the attention and support of many young political activists across the country the movement was brought to a swift end by a brutal counter- insurgency campaign by the police, which led to the death of many of the cadres.21
Other Nepalese, both at home and abroad, were now expressing opposition to the Regime, and it was not long before those opposed to the regime began to take matters into their own lands.
After the reestablishment of Democracy in 1990, Political parties were opened in Nepal. Among them CPN (Unity Center) United People’s Front Nepal is established in 1990 through the coalition of three groups i.e.4 th Congress, CPN (Masal) and CPN (Mashal). After four years alter CPN (United Center) was break down into two groups, one is leaded by Nirmal Lama and another is leaded by Prachand .In march 1995, Parchand’s Unity Center held its third plenum during which the members foreswore elections, preassembly at the insistence of the distant of RIM (the Revolutionary Internationalist movement, purportedly an umbrella organization for Ultra-Left forces the world over which operates out of a mailbox in London) and decided to take up arm. It was then that the Unity Center was renamed the communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). In September the same year, the party’s central committee adopted a ‘plan for the historical invitation of the people’s war which was started that the protracted people’s war (will be) based on (the) strategy of encircling the city from the countryside according to the specification of our country. The party once again reiterates its eternal commitment to the theory of people’s war developed by Mao as the universal and invincible Marxist theory of was.22
This was the situation when, on 4 February 1996, Baburam Bahttarai, in his capacity as chairman of the UPF he led, presented the Nepali congress- led coalition government of Sher Bahadur Deuba with a list of 40 demands related to’ nationalism democracy and livelihood’. These included abrogation of both the Mahakali treaties with India (one on ‘Peace and friendship’ and the other sharing of the water of western frontier river); introducing work permits for foreign (meaning India) workers in Nepal; curtailing all privileges of the royal family; drafting of new constitution through a constitution through a constituent assembly; nationalizing the property of comprador and bureaucratic capitalist’; declaring Nepal a secular nation and also programmers such as providing villages with roads, drinking water and electricity; and complete guarantee of freedom of speech and publication incidentally, these demands were not much different from the points outlined in the 1991 election manifesto of the above ground and till then united UPF. Bhattarai’s covering letter contained an ultimatum that unless the government initiated positive steps towards fulfilling those demands by 17 feb.1996, ‘ we will forced to embark on an armed struggle against the existing state’. Prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba was on a state visit India when the Maoist struck in six districts on 13 feb.1996, four days before the deadline expired.23
As far as the Nepalese Maoist movement is concerned our group identified several factors, which would contribute towards effective resolution of this discard. Among the political dimensions we recognized these things such as political stability, accountability, corruption control, boarders and sincere international co-operation, concrete assistance by India and negotiations.
18 INSEC, Human Rights Yearbook,: Kathmandu,1996,p.84.
22 Dipak Thapa,, The Maobadi of Nepal; State of Nepal, Patandhoka: Himal Books,2002,p.44.
24 K.L,Maharjan, Peasantry in Nepal”: A Study in Subsistence Farmers and their Activities preplanning to Food Security, Hirosima:Research Center for Regional Geography Hiroshima University, Special Publication no. 39,2003,p.4-6.
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