Mon, 29 May 2023

Kathmandu [Nepal], May 17 (ANI): As the Nepal government is being praised for its investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam, demands from various quarters have been growing regarding an impartial probe into the alleged corruption in Maoist cantonments, The Kathmandu Post reported.

The case dates back to 2007 when the then Nepalese government had decided to provide Nepali Rupees (NR) 5000 per month to 19,602 former Maoist combatants camped in seven cantonments and 21 satellite camps set up across the country, as per the news report.

The provision was to be continued until the time the combatants were either integrated into security agencies or opted for voluntary retirement. In 2010, 4008 combatants were disqualified for being underage or late recruits, according to The Kathmandu Post report.

The distribution of money to former rebels sparked controversy as Maoist leaders allegedly pocketed a big amount of the fund. In 2013, of the total 19,602 combatants registered by the United Nations Mission to Nepal (UNMIN), 1,460 joined Nepal Army while some others opted for a rehabilitation package offered by the government.

Other parties have been accusing the then Maoist leadership and top commanders of earning profit from the funds that should have been given to the combatants. They were also accused of taking salaries and allowances on behalf of thousands of combatants who had already left the cantonments.

Even though some Maoist Centre leaders said Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal was positive on conducting an investigation into alleged corruption in cantonment funds. However, no prominent leader has issued a statement about the issue in public, as per the news report.

Leaders from rival parties said that Dahal cannot conduct an investigation as that would put him in a difficult situation. Raghuji Pant, a standing committee member of CPN-UML said, "Both the prime minister and Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba could be indicted in the cantonment case," The Kathmandu Post reported. Pant said that he does not think that government will carry out an investigation.

The main opposition party UML demanded that the government probe all corruption cases, including the one related to cantonment funds, as per the news report. However, the Maoist-led government and leaders of the Maoist Centre have not talked about the issue.

Dissatisfaction is palpable over the alleged corruption, even with the Maoist Centre's rank and file, in which the party leadership had allegedly misused a large amount of money collected from the combatants.

Around 10 years back, a corruption complaint was registered at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against Maoist leaders, charging them of taking government funds allocated to pay salaries and allowances to former combatants by producing fake combatants, The Kathmandu Post reported. According to the complaint, the leaders were also charged with embezzling the amount meant to procure rations for the combatants.

UML's youth wing Youth Association Nepal had accused the Maoist leadership of misusing at least NRs 4 billion. The Office of the Auditor General had approved the budget allocated for cantonment operation and management, as per The news report. Some Maoist Centre leaders have started speaking up and urging the party leadership to explain the issue to the people.

In a Facebook post, Subodh Serpali, the chair of the youth wing of the Maoist Centre Young Communist League (YCL), said that party leadership should settle the issue as the party keeps facing accusations every now and then. Furthermore, he said that the YCL will hand over to the government if any of the commanders is found guilty in the issue.

"The UML and the Congress have benefitted the most by the sacrifice of Maoist fighters, but they have also been accusing the party of misappropriating the funds meant for cantonments," Serpali said as per The Kathmandu Post report.

"Why didn't KP Oli or Sher Bahadur Deuba initiate a probe when they led the government?," he asked.

Subodh Serpali said Dahal's government should minutely investigate the case and 'enlighten' the people. YCL's former chief Ram Prasad Sapkota also called for an investigation, as per the news report. Some Maoist leaders, however, believe that the UML and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party are trying to divert attention from the ongoing investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam after the arrest of some of their top leaders. (ANI)

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