21 January, 2021

Freedom By .303

Rhetoric runs high in the Maoist sentiment as does a quick trigger in their lands

Charles Haviland
Freedom By .303
Six months after King Gyanendra seized political power in Kathmandu, there is little sign that he has succeeded in quelling Maoist violence. Out west, the rebels are still trying to build their brave new world. To examine it, we trekked for a week into these lands where the Maoists first began their insurgency nine years ago.

Our first night was at Khungri, just inside Rolpa—a district which to Nepalis is synonymous with the guerrillas. The rebels had detained us at one of their bamboo gates straddling the dirt road, topped by red flags. "Sleep there," they told us, indicating the yard outside the mud-built house they had commandeered. Later, we retreated to a tiny room as the rains pelted down. There, an older girl, about 16, cooked for us. She would leave next morning with a .303 rifle. A younger girl, about eight, stared at us, a strange smile fixed to her face. She was someone's daughter, I wasn't sure whose. These things are never clear in Maoist encampments.

Comrade Ranabhumi (Battlefield) had a scowl and looked in pain. He had sustained a bullet in the knee in...


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