Holeri of Rolpa, the place of genesis of the Maoist ‘people’s war’, wore a deserted look on February 13, the 25th anniversary of the start of the decade-long war that ended in 2006. Following the merger of the warring mother Maoist party with the erstwhile CPN-UML to form the Nepal Communist Party, the country’s current ruling party, the celebrations this year were rather muted. On 13 February 1996, the Maoist party had started its insurgency by attacking a police post at Holeri. To mark the occasion, Energy Minister Barshaman Pun, who had led the attack, was in Rolpa to address a media conference on the war anniversary.
“With the end of the people’s war, the country has ventured forth on the path of economic prosperity,” he claimed. “The war that started under my command at Holeri has brought about drastic changes in the country.” Pun expressed his satisfaction that the Maoist hotbed of Rolpa is now better known as a place of peace and prosperity.
The Nepal Communist Party had decided to celebrate ‘people’s war day’ by organizing different events in all districts of Province 5. But these functions turned out to be small indoor affairs resembling government meetings. The former Maoist warriors and family members of the martyrs did not even know of these meetings.
Biplob faction carries the torch
In comparison, the banned communist party under Netra Bikram Chand ‘Biplob’, a breakaway Maoist outfit, celebrated the day with much fanfare in Thawang, Rolpa. They started the celebration of the 25th anniversary of ‘people’s war’ on the open ground at Thulo Gaun. Posters with the red sickle-and-hammer flags were seen plastered all around the town. The party says it is trying to keep the spirit of the ‘people’s war’ alive. The party organized weeklong sports and cultural events, according to a district leader. “We hoisted party flags on almost all of the 400 houses of Thawang,” he told APEX over the phone. “Residents of this place made huge contributions to the war. Many became martyrs. We are celebrating the day to respect their sacrifice.” Altogether 23 residents of Thawang had died in the decade-long war.
“We continue to celebrate the people’s war day,” the leader said. Celebrations included men’s and women’s volleyball tournament, kabaddi, badminton, dohori song competition, among others. The winning teams of volleyball under both men’s and women’s categories were given cash prizes of Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000, and Rs 20,000 for the first, second and third place finishers. The party said local patrons and well-wishers had generously donated the prize money.
Security agencies that had stopped the party from displaying flags and banners in the past had now relaxed the restriction, the leader said.
Meanwhile, jailed leaders of the Biplav faction also celebrated the war anniversary in Rolpa District Jail by smearing vermillion powder on each other and exchanging greetings. Twelve members of the party including Rapti bureau in-charge Kesh Bahadur Bantha Magar ‘Subhas’, Santosh Subedi ‘Prayas’, and Pusta Man Gharti are serving prison terms there