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Ex-PLA learning livelihood skills never to take up arms



Prem Bahadur Shahi, 26, recalls the incident 10 years back and wonders how life would have been far better had he not decided to take up arms for the then CPN-Maoist.

One morning in 2004, Shahi, a resident of Surkhet, left home along with a group of friends to join the PLA, which was out to transform the nation. 

He had then just passed the SLC exam in second division. After taking voluntary retirement from the PLA in 2012, Shahi returned home with Rs 500,000 as his rehabilitation package. He opines that this payment did not compensate for the time he devouted to the Maoists and the hardship he put up with for their sake. 

The two years post-retirement have not been easy. The Rs 500,000 was soon used up as he had neither any source of income nor any livelihood skills, Shahi said. All he was able to do with the amount was buy a small piece of land and repaid a loan of Rs 150,000 his family had taken during his absence.

Former Maoist PLA members who opted for voluntary retirement, at the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training, Sano Thimi, Bhaktapur, earlier this week, to collect their training certificates.(Nirjana Sharma/Republica)

“After I returned home, no one would trust us enough to give us any work, and we were unable to find any means for ourselves,” says Shahi. 

However, the technical and vocational training provided by the German government-funded GiZ has given him new hope. 

One-fourth of the 80 participants in the 15-month training given in coordination with CTEVT, the council for technical education and vocational training, were former PLA, and they recently received certificates for successful completion of the income-oriented training. 

Soon after completing a 12-month course as JTA in Agriculture in April, he returned home for a three-month practical course. After talking to other farmers in the village, he is now planning to go for fish cultivation.

“There is a huge demand for fish in the local market and I believe I will earn well from fish farming,” he said enthusiastically. 

Fifteen months of hard work is soon going to bear fruit, hopes Binda Khatri, 27, another former PLA who volunteered for retirement. She chose a career in construction, and this is now most important for her. Khatri had left her two-year-old son with her husband Harkha Bahadur Rai, who was wounded during the conflict and is unable to do any physical work. Khatri is hopeful of finding work as a sub-overseer in Dharan, Sunsari to support her family. 

“We had taken up arms to transform the country, but now we realize that most often it is difficult to change even oneself,” she said.

To provide them the skills so that the former revolutionaries are never again motivated to take up arms, several other international agencies are also involved in imparting vocational training, according to CTEVT Member Secretary Chandra Bhakta Nakarmi. 

Among the 6,025 recognized PLA personnel, 5,000 had chosen voluntary retirement whereas the others went for integration into the Nepal Army. 

Several other international agencies are also currently giving technical and vocational training to the ex-PLA in coordination with CTEVT, said Nakarmi.

Another importance aspect of the training is that people from the communities affected by the conflict also took part alongside the revolutionary group, said Ram Hari Khanal, principal of Jiri Technical School. 

“Life after the conclusion of peace is free of anger and violence, and we vow to never take up arms again,” says Buddhi Man Bajya, a retired PLA from Makwanpur, with others nodding in agreement.



 Source- Republica Daily


Published on 2014-07-05 02:26:01

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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