In search of peace
The ruinous Maoist insurgency was a result of long-standing inequities in Nepali society. Ordinary farmers and their children were convinced to take up arms and lead a militant life with a promise of a just society where everyone has equal access to healthcare, education and development.
But over 15 years after the end of the war and more than 17,000 lives lost, social inequities have in fact grown, the gap between the rich and poor is now wider, genuine democracy and devolution have been lost in the corridors of Singha Darbar.
When millions of Nepalis in the remote mountains and the Tarai experiencing food and landslide disasters remain out of reach of the most basic needs, one cannot help but question the point of the war. And ponder, what is to prevent an even more desperate insurgency in the future, if the inequality persists and impunity continues to prevail.
Excerpt from our editorial 20 years ago this week from issue #64 12-18 October 2001:
Despite the havoc Maoists have created, the revolt has exposed the hollowness of Nepal’s political leaders who have discredited and squandered our hard-won democracy. It has also shown the depth of frustration of a neglected people whose basic needs have been ignored for too long. More than a decade after the promulgation of a constitution that made the people sovereign, rural Nepal is still waiting to see what it actually means to be the true rulers of this country. Call them ignorant or illiterate, but they have yet to see and feel the supposed advantages of democracy. And, mark this, they know exactly who the crooks are. The Maoists had felt the pulse of the people and they knew the anger, frustration and hopelessness in the hinterland. They let the people down by fighting a futile, wasteful war in their name, that is another matter. They lived with the people-in many cases they were the people. Like Mao said, they were like fish in water. After the rebels lay down their guns, that is the kind of intimacy that political parties and their activists should be aiming for. Much of this is happening in many parts of Nepal as local self-governance takes root. Such successful examples of grassroots democracy in action must be replicated nationwide if we are to prevent an even more desperate insurgency replacing the present one.
From archives material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com