Saturday, September 15, 2007

Maoist rebels in Jhyaltung Danda, Nepal. Photo by Anuj Chopra

Nepal: Maoists Begin to Disarm


JHYALTUNG DANDA, Nepal -- We've spent five hours on the road from Kathmandu. The car is belching out thick smoke as it wobbles along the deeply rutted roads. The mercury has dropped dramatically and fog is adding to the precarious journey.

We're on our way to a remote hamlet in western Nepal, Jhyaltung Danda in the Nawalparasi district, to spend time at a Maoist camp run by the country's rebels, if they let us. Emerging from the shadow of a long clandestine existence, Nepal's Maoist rebels are now in the process of laying down arms under UN supervision, officially calling an end to their decade long revolution.

As our destination nears, the countryside is increasingly beautiful: old wooden houses rise above vast tracts of maize in mid bloom; little children waive at us as we pass by.

In the distance, I see a red flag flying from the top of a watchtower. As we pull up, a gun barrel darts out from a foxhole padded by sand bags.

We have arrived at the headquarters of the 4th division of the Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA), a rag-tag army of Nepal's Maoists. Yesterday, I tried to visit another camp in the district of Nawalparisi to meet with the rebels. The camp's lanky deputy commander politely broke the news that he couldn't get permission from his "higher ups." So my translator and I had to turn back.

Today, we are in luck...

No comments: