Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist
The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), was formed in 1995 following a split in the Communist Party of Nepal-Unity Centre. A radical faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Comrade Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai set up the CPN-Maoist and denounced the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninists (CPN-UML) and other mainstream communist factions as 'renegades' and 'revisionists' due to their participation in the parliamentary process. It resorted to an armed struggle on February 13, 1996, by attacking police stations in the Rukum and Rolpa districts in northwestern Nepal and thereby declaring a 'People's War' in Nepal.
The CPN-M came overground after the agreement with the seven Party alliance and has been a part of the Government in Nepal since then. On January 13, 2009, joint meeting of the central committees of CPN-Maoist and Communist Party of Nepal-Unity Centre (CPN-Unity Centre) decided to name the new party as Unified CPN-Maoist (UCPN-M).
Nine years after putting the UCPN-M on its inventory of world-wide terrorist organizations, the Unites States removed the party from the list, arguing that the party had demonstrated a credible commitment to pursuing the peace and reconciliation process in Nepal. The statement issued by the US government in Washington D.C on September 6, 2012, read: "The Department of State has revoked the designation of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and its aliases as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order 13224, and as a "terrorist organization" from the Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)."
Earlier, various communist groups had actively participated in the People’s Movement of 1989-90 operating under the umbrella organisation of United National People’s Movement (UNPM). However, after the conclusion of the People’s Movement, these groups were not satisfied with the multi-party democratic system under constitutional monarchy. In order to contest the May 1991 elections, they formed a two-tier organisation, revolutionary front and political front, known as the Communist Party of Nepal-Unity Centre and United People’s Front of Nepal (UPFN) respectively. The UPFN emerged as the third largest group in the Parliament and also performed well in the local bodies’ elections of 1992. Gradually, however, ideological and personality clashes led to the disintegration of Unity Centre and the UPFN split into two factions, led by Nirmal Lama and Niranjan Govind Vaidiya at one end and Comrade Prachanda and Bhattarai on the other end. Subsequently, the decision by Prachanda not to participate in the 1994 elections led to the creation of CPN-M in 1995 as an underground outfit.
The Maoists announced a ‘People's War’ on February 13, 1996, with the slogan "let us march ahead on the path of struggle towards establishing the people's rule by wreaking the reactionary ruling system of state." They strongly believe in the philosophy of Mao Tsetung that "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." They also draw inspiration from the ‘Revolutionary Internationalist Movement’ and Peru's left wing extremist guerilla movement, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). The radical communist parties from different parts of the world have provided ideological sustenance for the Nepali Maoists.
The ‘People's War’ aims to establish a ‘New Democracy’ in Nepal and constitutes an "historical revolt against feudalism, imperialism and so-called reformists." The immediate reason given by the Maoists for declaring the ‘People's War’ was the failure of the Nepalese Government to respond to a memorandum presented by its representatives to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on February 4, 1996. The memorandum listed 40 demands related to "nationalism, democracy and livelihood". These included among others the abolition of royal privileges and the promulgation of a new constitution, and the abrogation of the Mahakali treaty with India on the distribution of water and electricity and the delineation of the border between the two countries.
Leadership, Cadre and Command Structure
The chief of operations of the CPN-M is its Chairman, Pushpa Kamal Dahal (better known as Comrade Prachanda). He is also Chairman of the ‘Central Committee’, Member of ‘Standing Committee’ and ‘Supreme Commander’ of the People's Liberation Army.
Another front ranking leader Baburam Bhattarai heads the political wing of the Maoists called the United People’s Front (UPF). Bhattarai alias Lal Singh @ Jitbir @ Mukti Manab, a ‘Politburo and Standing Committee’ member, is reportedly responsible for planning and foreign affairs, and was co-ordinator of the dialogue team in 2003. According to the Nepal Police Website, he is in-charge of mid central command (since 3rd cc meeting in September 2004).
Mohan Pokharel Vaidya @ Kiran @ Agam, a founder of the party and a ‘Politburo and Standing Committee’ member, is widely reported to be the political ideologue and is also in-charge of the Kathmandu valley and eastern central command. Another important Maoist leader is Post Bahadur Bogati @ Diwakar @ Ranadhoj who serves as a ‘Politburo and Standing Committee’ member and is also in- charge of the western central command.
Ram Bahadur Thapa alias Badal @ Lakhan @ Bhimsen @ Prem, another ‘Politburo and Standing Committee’ member, is reported to be special central command in-charge. Krishna Bahadur Mahara @ Amar Singh @ Chattan, who acts as the Maoists’ spokesperson, is in-charge of the ‘Foreign Section (India)’.
The top-level commanders of the insurgents include among others, Yan Prasad Gautarri alias Alok, Chitranarayan Shrestha, Shashi Shrestha, Hisila Yani, Man Bahadur Mahara, Santhosh Bura, Lekhraj Bhatt, C.P. Gajurel. In the political wing, the important Maoist leaders include, Comrade Parvati (a nom de guerre of Baburam Bhattarai’s wife Hsila Yemi), Matrika Yadav, Deb Bahadur Gurung, Krishna Dhoj Khadka, Rekha Sharma, Rabindra Shrestha, Bamdev Chhetri and Mumaram Khanal.
The apex military institution of the Maoists is the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists), which was constituted in 1998.
Government estimates provided in early 2003 on the CPN-M strength indicated that there are approximately 5,500 combatants, 8,000 militia, 4,500 cadres, 33,000 hard core followers, and 200,000 sympathizers.
The main fighting and support forces consist of Magars, Tharus, Janjatis (Gurungs, Rais, Limbus, Tamangs, Dalits, Brahmins and Chhetris, the last two also providing the political and military leadership). Among the Maoist fighters – about 60 per cent – are deployed in the mid-west and west in their strongholds. Another 10 per cent are in the far west with around 10 percent in Gorkha, the rest is located in Kathmandu valley and east of it.
A considerable number of retired Gurkha soldiers of the British and the Indian Army inhabit many of the Maoist-affected areas and Nepalese security agencies have suspected that these former soldiers along with those retired and deserters from the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) have/are involved in training the insurgents.
Women have been prominent in the recruiting profile. Available reports indicate that one-fifth to one-third of the cadre and combatants may be women. Reportedly, every village has a revolutionary women’s organisation. According to a Jane’s Intelligence Review report of October 2001, there are usually two women in each unit of 35-40 men, and they are used to gather intelligence and act as couriers. Baburam Bhattarai was quoted as saying in Spacetime on April 18, 2003, that fifty percent of cadres at the lower level, thirty percent of soldiers and ten percent of members of central committee of the outfit were women. Durgha Pokhrel, Chairman of National Women’s Commission, who visited more than 25 Maoist-affected districts, stated on July 3, 2003, during a talk delivered at the Nepal Council of World Affairs that percentage of women cadres could be as high as forty. A women’s group, the All Nepal Women's Association (Revolutionary), is alleged to be a front outfit of the CPN-M.
The All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (Revolutionary), or ANNISU-R is the student wing of the Maoists. Its membership comprises students from school to the university level. The general success in all the strikes called by ANNISU-R, especially in the educational institutions, (at present it is also one of the key student organisation in the anti-King agitation) shows the strong hold of the organisation. According to a report of June 2003, the ANNISU-R comprises approximately 400,000 members.
Reportedly, weaponry in their possession include AK-47 rifles, self-loading rifles, .303 rifles, country guns, hand grenades, explosives, detonators, mortars, and light machine guns. Nearly 85 per cent of these weapons are reportedly looted from the police and RNA.
Structurally, the CPN-M consists of the standing committee at the top, followed by the politburo, central committee, regional bureaus, sub-regional bureaus, district committees, area committees, and cell committees. The Politburo issues directives with the assistance of an approximately 25-member central committee. The main armed component reportedly consists of six guerrilla battalions, which launches military action in response to instructions relayed through their individual chief commissars (one per battalion), who are central committee members. The politburo and standing committee reportedly formulate most of the political and strategic policies. The standing committee, with approximately ten members, is the most powerfully body in the CPN-M. There are five regional bureaus: eastern, central, Kathmandu valley, western and international department.
Organisational structure of the CPN-Maoist
Source: Sudheer Sharma, "The Maoist Movement: An Evolutionary Perspective," in Deepak Thapa, ed., Understanding the Maoist Movement in Nepal, Kathmandu: Martin Chautari, 2003.
Areas of Operation
The guerrillas operate to varying degrees in 68 of the 75 districts that comprise Nepal. Their influence varies between moderate to extreme in these districts. In the districts of Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Salyan, Pyuthan and Kalikot in mid-western Nepal, Government presence is limited to the district headquarters with the rest of each district under Maoist control. The Nepalese Home Ministry has designated these districts as 'sensitive class A'. Nine districts, namely Dolakha, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha, Dang, Surkhet and Achham, are classified as 'Sensitive Class B', while 17 'Sensitive Class C' districts are Khotang, Okhaldhunga, Udaypur, Makwanpur, Lalitpur, Nuwakot, Dhading, Tanahu, Lamjung, Parbat, Baglung, Gulmi, Arghakhachi, Bardiya, Dailekh, Jumla and Dolpa.
The Maoist insurgency initially commenced in the three districts of Rolpa, Rukum and Jajarkot and eventually spread throughout Nepal. Maoists have very strong bases in Western and mid-Western region and partially in Eastern region.
According to the Nepal Police, the following areas are affected by Maoist violence:
Source: Nepal Police
According to available information, the Maoists of Nepal have well-established linkages with Indian left-wing extremist organizations, primarily with the People’s War Group (PWG) and Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). The first signs of contacts were reportedly registered during 1989-1990, when the two groups started collaborating in order to expand their influence. Towards this end, they began the process of laying a corridor, which is now widely referred to as the Revolutionary Corridor (RC) extending from Nepal to across six Indian States, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. This entire area has been identified in Maoist literature as the Compact Revolutionary Zone (CRZ). The CRZ was organized by the Nepal and Indian members of the Naxalite (the popular term for left-wing extremism in India- the movement originated in Naxalbari [hence the term Naxal] in the State of West Bengal in the late 1960s) Movement, in a meeting at Siliguri in the Indian State of West Bengal during August 2001.
Gradually, the interaction between Maoist insurgents and the PWG increased with the sharing of knowledge about guerilla warfare, bomb manufacturing techniques and arms training. Nepalese Maoists had sent their delegates to the March 2001 Congress of PWG held at Abuz Marh in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. The establishment of CRZ gave a wider space and platform for all the proscribed Nepal and Indian left-wing extremist organizations to strengthen their bases in both the countries.
The more radical forces in South Asia, including both the PWG and Nepalese Maoists, are members of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). In July 2001, about 10 extreme Left Wing (Maoist) groups in South Asia formed the Coordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organization of South Asia (CCOMPOSA), in which the Nepalese Maoists, PWG, MCC, Purbo Banglar Movement (Bangladesh), Communist Party of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and other Indian left-wing extremist parties became members. The appearance of graffiti in remote villages in Naxalite-strongholds, in Rayakal and Mallapur mandals (administrative unit) of Karimnagar district in Andhra Pradesh, hailing CCOMPOSA points the spread of the idea of a common front of left-wing extremist groups in South Asia. Moreover, the Central Committee of the Maoists, in late-January 2002, passed a resolution stating that it would work together with the PWG and the MCC in fighting the ban imposed on the latter two organisations in India, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. A year earlier, in 2001, the Maoists had sent a senior leader named Gaurav as a fraternal delegate to attend the 9th Congress of the PWG. Reports indicate that the Maoists and the PWG have also formed the Indo-Nepal Border Region Committee to coordinate their activities in North Bihar and along the India-Nepal border.
For quite some time, the Maoists have also been working closely with the MCC for unification, consolidation and expansion of Maoist movement in India and across South Asia. A careful examination of expansion of Naxalite activity in Bihar in the last two years would reveal that the growing linkages between the MCC and the Nepali Maoists are part of their larger strategy to create a 'Compact Revolutionary Zone' stretching across Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar to Nepal. The porous Bihar-Nepal border, the general breakdown of rule of law, poor governance and incapacity of the police force provides a context for these left extremist groups to operate with ease.
In February 1996, the MCC Central Committee had reportedly published a paper welcoming the Maoist movement in Nepal. Reports of April 2000 indicated that the MCC and Maoists were holding joint training camps in Hazaribagh and Aurangabad. In September 2000, MCC leader Pramod Mishra is alleged to have visited Nepal for extensive discussions with Maoist leaders. In December 2001, the MCC and the PWG, in their joint meetings, held in the Jharkhand forests, resolved to support the Maoist insurgents in Nepal. In the same year, the MCC, PWG and Maoists formed an "Indo Nepal Border Regional Committee" to coordinate their activities in the border areas.
The porous Bihar-Nepal border is easily permeable. Bihar has eight districts and 54 police stations situated on the border. In the recent past, the Bihar police have arrested a number of Nepalese Maoists in the border districts of West and East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar and Madhubani. Taking advantage of a general breakdown of law and order, the Nepalese Maoists have reportedly set up bases at several places along the border. Reports indicate the existence of training camps in the forests of Bagha in the West Champaran district, which has emerged as a safe haven for the Nepalese insurgents. The Bihar police also suspect that some top leaders of the Nepalese Maoists, including Baburam Bhattarai, were/are hiding in Bihar.
Not much is known about the Maoist links with other militant or left-wing extremist groups operating in India, besides that they are linked to a few Naxalite groups through CCOMPOSA. Besides, a left-wing extremist group, the Communist Party of India––Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) Janashakthi, which has a marginal presence at least in six Indian States, but is very active in isolated and limited number of pockets in Andhra Pradesh, expressed support to the Maoists. It is a co-signatory, along with 41 other left-wing extremist groups ranging from South America to South East Asia, to resolution that ‘condemned and opposed the malpractice of the fascist state of Nepal’ and demanded ‘life security’ for imprisoned Maoist cadres, leaders and sympathisers.
The Maoists, with the help of Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), have been attempting to establish links with Naxalite groups such as the PWG and the MCC by using the Siliguri corridor in West Bengal. Media reports of December 29, 2002, indicated that three members of a Maoist-affiliate, All Nepal National Free Students' Union-Revolutionary, were arrested at the Siliguri bus station, while on their way to Bihar to attend a meeting convened by the PWG.
The growing influence of Nepalese Maoists in other parts of India was unearthed after four of its cadres were arrested in West Bengal on February 26, 2003. The arrested Maoists confessed during interrogation of their plan to use West Bengal as a corridor between their areas of domination in India and Nepal. Darjeeling and Siliguri are the important transit routes. Also they are in a process of consolidating their presence in West Midnapore district, Bankura and Purulia especially in North Bengal with the help of Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO).
The substantial population of nearly eight million Nepali residents in India (primarily in Sikkim, Darjeeling, Siliguri, Shillong, Dehradun, Himachal Pradesh and Gorakpur-Lucknow belts) have established a countrywide organization called the Akhil Bharatiya Nepal Ekta Samaj (ABNES). It was banned under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in July 2002 by the Government of India. ABNES was registered with the stated objective of securing unity among immigrant Nepalese residing in India and working for their welfare. However, it gradually became involved in subversive activities and began to function as a front for the Maoist insurgents of Nepal. It is also believed that the organization is working for the idea of a greater Nepal.
There is also some reportage about the Nepalese Maoists’ links with insurgent groups active in India’s North-east like United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), Gurkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Gurkha Liberation Organisation (GLO).
Though the exact nature of the relationship is not known, the Maoists are also reported to have some links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. However, it is suspected that the Maoists have received arms training from the LTTE operatives in the past and this may be continuing. Links between these two may have been facilitated through the PWG, which has a record of co-operation with the LTTE in arms procurement and training (especially in the use of Improvised Explosive Devices). The arrest of Chandra Prakash Gajurel alias Gaurab, a member of the Maoist politburo, at Chennai airport in Tamil Nadu in August 2003 while trying to travel to Europe to lobby for a political solution to the seven-year-old insurgency in Nepal needs to be seen in this context.