Delay in investigation of Maoist cantonment scam raises concerns
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is delaying investigation into the alleged misuse of approximately Rs 4bn released for the salary and well-being of Maoist combatants kept in cantonments.
The investigation had remained dormant for nearly two years, during which the CIAA could only obtain expenditure details related to the Maoist combatants from the Ministry of Peace.
As per the information provided by the ministry to the CIAA, a total of Rs 9.79bn was spent on the salary and well-being of Maoist combatants over a span of nine years. Out of this amount, Rs 5.88bn was allocated solely for paying the salaries of these combatants. Additionally, Rs 2.76bn was utilized for logistics, Rs 261m for infrastructure development, and Rs 273.71m was allocated for other miscellaneous expenses, according to the letter sent by the ministry to the CIAA.
The CIAA took a policy decision to investigate the incident after it concluded that the funds released for Maoist combatants by the then Army Integration Special Committee had been misused. The individuals under investigation include former Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, former Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, former Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara, and other Maoist commanders.
The Maoist party has been accused of embezzling tens of millions of rupees from the national treasury by creating fake combatants. Initially, there were 32,250 combatants in various cantonments after the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed between the Maoist party and the government in 2006. However, the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN) verified only 18,500 of them as legitimate combatants. Subsequently, around 4,000 soldiers under the age of 18 were sent home. Even though UNMIN verified 19,600 as Maoist combatants, during the categorization process for integration into the Nepal Army or reintegration into society, only 17,074 combatants were present, approximately 3,000 less than the verified number.
Since the beginning of the peace process, over Rs 20bn has been spent on managing Maoist camps and supporting the combatants over a period of six years.
CIAA investigation has concluded that approximately 50 percent of the verified combatants were found to have been created solely for documentation purposes, intending to misuse state resources. The Maoist party has been accused of generating fake documents for around 3,000 soldiers who never actually existed, all in an effort to embezzle their salaries.
Complaints filed at CIAA state that salaries of about 6,000 soldiers have been embezzled over a period of nearly five years.
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