Nepal Maoists ’sacrifice’ own children for self interest

July 22nd, 2011 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 22 (IANS) Ninth-grader Sadhana Limbu was expecting to return to her school in Nepal’s tea garden district of Jhapa next week after spending a brief vacation with her family in Kathmandu.

Instead, the 14-year-old girl is now in police custody in the capital, facing interrogation and a tough ordeal that could include imprisonment.

She was caught by Nepal’s airport authorities Thursday while trying to board a domestic flight from Kathmandu to Jhapa.

Among the books and clothes in her baggage, the X-ray machine at the Tribhuvan International Airport detected a pistol as well as several rounds of bullets.

Sadhana, who has so far told police that she did not know about the firearm, is the daughter of Bishwadweep Lingden, a powerful member of parliament from eastern Nepal who won the 2008 election on the Maoist party ticket.

Lingden, who could not be contacted immediately, is said to have told the local media initially that the weapon belonged to him and that he was planning to take it to India for repairs.

Subsequently, he is reported to have retracted the statement, denying any knowledge of the gun and claiming it was a conspiracy against him.

Police told IANS Friday that the politician denied any knowledge about the gun in his daughter’s bag.

Carrying an illegal firearm can fetch its owner or possessor three to five years in prison, police said. Sadhana could receive half that as she is a minor.

The teen-ager’s plight is the latest in a series of incidents in Nepal as Maoist leaders flex their muscles over their children.

Another senior Maoist leader, Himal Sharma, came under public criticism this month after he asked his son Saral to drop his medical studies in China and return to Nepal.

Saral, who had won a scholarship to study MBBS in China, was in tears, saying it was a blow to his career plans.

Sharma, who rose in the Maoist ranks as a student leader, was flexing his muscles to push the Maoist student organisation’s demand that all Maoist leaders, accused of sending their children to expensive schools and colleges abroad as well as at home, should recall them and admit them in state-run educational institutions so that they would have no special privileges.

Nepal’s private educational institutions are costlier than the state-run ones. Yet students flock there because of the alleged low quality of education in state schools.

The Maoist student union has been seeking to rein in private schools though without any visible plan to improve government schools, and Sharma’s gesture was meant to be a slap in the face for other Maoist leaders with children in private schools - at the cost of his own son.

“I am ready to sacrifice my own career if it produces results,” a visibly upset Saral told the media on his return to Kathmandu.

“However, I don’t see any sign of my return helping my father’s campaign. I don’t see the children of any other Maoist leader having returned to Nepal. Perhaps they should be recalled if the party was paying for their education. But in my case, I had gone on a scholarship.”

The debate that the recall triggered this week resulted in Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda himself stepping in to defuse the tension and asking Sharma to allow his son to return to his studies.

However, even Prachanda himself has been guilty of sacrificing his children.

When he began the 10-year “People’s War” against the state in 1996, his son Prakash and two teenaged daughters had to leave their schools for fear of being arrested by security forces.

While the son was sent to India, the two daughters were married off, even though they were reluctant to do so.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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