RED FLAG TO THE ROOF OF THE WORLD
In February 1996,
coordinated raids and attacks occurred in three main regions as
well as in many other places across the length of Nepal. These armed
actions involving thousands of men and women opened a new and glorious
chapter in the history of that country - the launching of the People's
War, aimed at sweeping away imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat
capitalism. The initial phase, lasting only two weeks, included
almost five thousand actions - from dramatic assaults on police
stations in rural districts, confiscation of property from landlords
and reactionaries, and punishment of a few hated tyrants, to widespread
wall painting and leafleting. In all, some kind of activity in support
of the People's War took place in 60 out of 75 districts of the
The enemy lashed
out wildly at the masses, killing over two dozen people in the initial
weeks alone, arresting hundreds and beating and terrorizing many
more, especially in the remote rural areas where the revolutionary
forces are concentrated.
At the core of
this grand initiative is the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),
a participating party of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
It is the Party which has made it possible for the long downtrodden
poverty-stricken people to stand up straight, arms in hand against
their oppressors, and for the rebellion of the masses to be transformed
into a conscious revolution aimed at seizing state power.
and No Surprise
The initial actions,
although modest from a strictly military point of view, stunned
the ruling class like a blow to the head. For more than a millennium,
the upper classes of Nepal had considered it their god-given right
to rule over and exploit the working people. In fact, the King of
Nepal promotes himself as the living reincarnation of the Hindu
god Vishnu! The feudals and bureaucrat capitalists who rule over
Nepal in league with imperialism and neighbouring India found it
almost impossible to believe that the workers and especially the
poor peasants, who make up the overwhelming majority of the population,
were daring to use force against the guardians of the old regime.
But although the
actual outbreak of hostilities came as a jolt to the rulers, the
intensification of the conditions giving rise to revolution had
been at work for a long time and had been accelerating at a rapid
pace in the last few years especially. Two significant scholarly
articles had appeared 1 which had as subject matter the widespread
support in Nepal for the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo
and the possibilities that a People's War might erupt from the smoldering
class conflicts there.
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had made no secret of its determination
to prepare and launch the People's War. Numerous public documents,
articles and speeches had been made along that line, and many, many
thousands of people were aware of or participating in the Party's
active preparations. So why then such a shock?
This is because,
in all countries, the class outlook of the reactionary classes leads
them to underestimate and have contempt for the oppressed. While
they do fear the possibilities of explosion from the lower depths
of society and do institute numerous repressive measures aimed at
preserving the status quo through force and violence, the exploiters
nevertheless believe that they alone are really capable of running
society. This viewpoint is also deeply ingrained in Hinduism, the
religion of Nepal's ruling class. The more that the revolt of the
masses takes on a conscious revolutionary form, the more that the
target of the struggle is the seizure of power, and the more thoroughly
the revolution aims to uproot and replace the old reactionary social
relations - the more the ruling classes consider the revolution
an impossible, unthinkable nightmare, even while they spare no effort
to oppose, sidetrack, slander and, when all else fails, smother
it in blood.
of the revolutionary movement in Nepal is that for more than a generation
communist leaders had been advocating in words armed struggle for
a new democratic revolution while finding one reason after another
not to take up the serious preparation and launching of such a struggle.
The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) also had to discard the heavy
weight of non-revolutionary goals, methods of work and forms of
organization, which had characterized the whole of the communist
movement in Nepal for decades. The daring initiation of the People's
War is also a stinging refutation of the revisionist and opportunist
Nepal is located
in a wide swath covering much of the Himalayas, which separate the
Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan plateau (part of China). Although
the Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world (the world's
highest peak, Sagarmatha, known in the West as "Mount Everest" after
a British colonial official, is located in Nepal), they are not
impregnable, and numerous passes have been used since antiquity
as trading routes. The capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, is located on
the principal trade route that historically has linked Tibet (and
beyond it China proper) with India.
Although a relatively
small country, especially compared to its giant neighbors to the
north and south, Nepal is a mosaic of different peoples, languages
and cultures. Most of the peoples and language groups in Nepal can
be traced either to what some anthropologists call the "Tibeto-Burman"
groups from the east and north of the Himalayas or to the "Indo-Aryan"
peoples from the west and south. The cultures coexisting in Nepal
also reflect varying influences. Nepal is the reputed birthplace
of Buddha, and that religion, largely but not exclusively in its
Lamaite, or Tibetan variety, is still practised by close to twenty
percent of the population.
About half the
population of Nepal is made up of different janjati (or minority
nationality) groups. The Nepalese ruling class counts the entire
janjati population as "Hindus" to justify their treatment of these
masses as part of "inferior castes" and to buttress their claim
that Nepal is a "Hindu nation". In fact, most of the janjatis reject
the label "Hindu" and follow various animist (or naturalist) religious
of Nepal has favoured this mosaic pattern of peoples and cultures.
The mountains as well as numerous rivers composing the three distinct
water basins in Nepal tended throughout history to keep different
populations isolated from each other. Peasants have always managed
to eke out a living from terraced farming in the hills, or grazing
in higher mountainous Himalayan regions, and the Mahabarat Lekh
(the middle mountains between the lower foothills and the Himalayas
proper) include some valleys well suited for rice cultivation and
other agriculture at between one and two thousand metres above sea
level. These areas, such as the fertile Kathmandu valley, became
home to many Hindu feudals, who came north from what is now India
to escape the Moghul invaders in the 11th-13th century. They subsequently
were able to establish a number of feudal fiefdoms and suck the
wealth of the successive generations of peasants. Later, as the
British presence on the Indian subcontinent began to take shape,
the most successful of these feudal principalities, the Gorkha kingdom
ruled by Prithvi Narayan Shah, was able to establish a unified state
in Nepal and extend its borders well beyond the present borders
of Nepal (all the way to Punjab far to the west and to Bengal in
the east) by using mountain warfare.
The defeat of
the Gorkha kingdom by British India in 1815 and the subsequent Sugauli
Treaty established the present boundaries of the country and codified
the clear domination of British India. The various janjati peoples
living in isolated hills and valleys of the country had their own
local authorities and maintained their own cultural identities even
while paying tribute to the king.
All along the
southern border with India which runs for the entire breadth of
the country lies a swath of land from 25 to 50 kilometers wide known
as the Terai (or plane) which is not much above sea level. Today,
the Terai is a wonderfully productive agricultural region with good
soil, generally good water resources and an abundant labouring population
(more than forty percent of the country's people live there). However,
until the last century the Terai was a lightly populated, forested
swamp so malaria-infested as to make it dangerous even for invading
armies, let alone farmers who might want to reclaim the land for
agriculture. Indeed, the king of Nepal discouraged the settling
of the Terai, precisely to keep it as a barrier against British
India to the south. But as Nepal came more and more under the sway
of Britain in the mid-nineteenth century (without however, ever
being reduced to a colony), the colonial authorities of British
India and the Nepalese rulers agreed to open up the Terai to settlers.
The rulers profiteered from the logging of the then forested Terai,
while the masses poured their sweat and blood into making the region
productive, only to be shackled with a strict feudal system. In
addition to peoples from the hill regions of Nepal and descendants
of the original forest-dwellers, a large percentage of these new
settlers came from different regions of India. Together they make
up the Terai's current population.
Today the Terai,
like the rest of Nepal, is still a checkerboard of cultures. Many
of the inhabitants are still considered "Indians" even after generations
of labour to reclaim and work the land. Taking advantage of the
cleavage between so-called "Indians" and "Nepalese" is one of the
standard games of both the Indian reactionary regime and the Nepalese
rulers to divide the people and to further reactionary interests.
More than half
of the population of Nepal are officially considered (by the Nepal
constitution) as janjati. This category is used to distinguish
these masses from what is sometimes referred to as the "mainstream"
Nepalese nationality. While many of these janjatis live in remote
areas under more primitive conditions, the term is also applied
to the Newars, for example. They were early Buddhist inhabitants
and traders in the Kathmandu valley who still occupy key posts in
commerce and public life in the capital. Although the Nepalese language
has been imposed throughout the country for two centuries, only
thirty percent of the population of the country speaks it as their
mother tongue (it is a Sanskrit-based language linked linguistically
to Hindi, Bengali and many other languages spoken in northern India,
Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Life is difficult
for the peasantry of Nepal, which constitutes the overwhelming majority
of the population (close to ninety percent). Despite some token
land reform that has taken place in the period since World War II,
feudal ownership of the land is strong in the Terai and the principal
mid-mountain valleys such as Kathmandu and Pokhara. Primitive farming
on the hillsides is carried out by janjatis who can barely eke out
a living but who are still subjected to different forms of exploitation,
both from the central state and traditional janjati authorities.
All of the "yardsticks"
regularly used to measure impoverishment consistently show Nepal
among the world's poorest countries. In a country where annual income
is only a few hundred dollars a year, chicken and eggs can cost
as much as in Europe. This means that a large percentage of the
population is under-nourished by any standard. Industrial products
are rare to non-existent for most of the population. Despite the
fact that the Nepalese masses have, through hard labour, constructed
housing stock and rudimentary sanitation that compares favourably
to the widespread squalor prevalent in many Third World countries,
health conditions are abominable for most people. According to the
World Bank's Social Indicators of Development estimate for
1988-1993 (the latest avaliable) only 1290 doctors were registered
in the entire country - most of whom were in the capital, leaving
a tiny number of doctors to serve about 18 million people in the
outlying areas! All of this translates into an average life expectancy
of 54 years for men and an even lower life expectancy for
women (52.2 years). These averages mask the large disparities between
the city dwellers and the impoverised countryside.
This lower life
expectancy for women is particularly striking, given the trend observed
in all countries for women to outlive men. It is testimony to the
extreme conditions of oppression and hard labour that Nepalese women
face and the high incidence of death during childbirth - one in
one hundred. Marriage by kidnapping (after which payment to the
bride's family is often negotiated - the opposite of the traditional
Hindu dowry arrangement) is still found among some sections of the
population. As even remote areas of Nepal are drawn tighter into
the market economy, a flourishing trade has resulted in large numbers
of women being forced into the horrors of the brothels of India.
Yet in some janjati areas, women enjoy more equality, a result of
a less strict division of labor and the influences, in some cases,
of primitive communal social structures. For all these reasons,
it is not surprising that large numbers of women are participating
in the revolutionary struggle.
In the last few
decades, a large-scale tourism industry has developed in Nepal.
For the imperialists, the "specific advantages" of Nepal are its
beautiful scenery and excellent climate and, especially of course,
its very low wages. Much of the "development" that has taken place
in Nepal has been aimed at turning the country into a vacation paradise
for tourists from Europe and Israel and rich Indians.
the difficulties of surviving have forced millions of Nepalese to
migrate in search of work. Most have gone to India, where they are
employed in menial work and super-exploited. The back-and-forth
movement of millions of Nepalese to India is vital economically
for both India and Nepal and is an important feature of political
and social life. Despite the great hardships, it has helped expose
the Nepalese labouring masses to foreign culture and world affairs
and especially to the liberating ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
Throughout India, large numbers of Nepalese workers have taken part
in revolutionary struggles, and a great many are organized under
the leadership of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) through
the different mass organizations the Party leads in India. There
are also millions of people living in the Indian hill areas bordering
Nepal who speak variants of the Nepalese language and identify closely
with the masses in Nepal. These are some reasons why the revolutions
in Nepal and India will be intertwined.
many Nepalese men have enrolled in foreign armed services, particularly
the British Army (and since independence, the Indian Army as well).
These forces, often misnamed "Gorkha regiments" (after only one
of the many peoples in Nepal), played an important role in the British
and now Indian war machines. During World War II, as many as 500,000
Nepalese served in the British Army, only to be discharged without
a penny at the war's end. Their massive return to Nepal was one
of the important factors of the large-scale democratic upsurge that
took place in the country in 1950-51. One positive aspect of this
thoroughly disgusting practice of press-ganging oppressed peoples
to serve their masters in war has been that some knowledge of military
affairs and handling of modern weapons is widespread, even in the
most remote corners of the country.
nearby Calcutta on the Bay of Bengal, which was the capital of British
India until the beginning of the twentieth century, the colonial
authorities longed after Nepal. In 1814-15, the British East India
Company waged a war against the Gorkha kingdom and seized a large
part of the territory that had earlier been incorporated into the
kingdom by Prithvi Narayan Shah. But the British found it both difficult
and unwise to try to occupy Nepal militarily, and instead exercised
control over the country by less direct means.
In 1846, a political
institution developed which was to govern Nepal for a century and
safeguard British interests in the process. One of the leading feudal
families of Kathmandu with links to the British, the Rana, provided
hereditary "prime ministers". The successive kings, on the other
hand, were reduced to mere figureheads, and each was required to
marry a member of the Rana family to further ensure the latter's
dominance. During the hundred-year rule of the Rana family, Nepal's
integration into the world imperialist system was brought about
via the connection to Britain and British India. At the same time,
extremely backward feudal conditions marked the socio-economic system,
and the masses were locked out of any modern political life.
It was only after
World War II and the revolutionary upsurge that accompanied the
defeat of the fascist imperialist powers and the great weakening
of British imperialism that the "Ranarchy" (as the Rana family domination
was sometimes called) finally collapsed. The king, with the blessing
of the British, waged a palace coup against the hated Rana family
in hopes of heading off the popular ferment.
was partitioned into the formally independent countries of India
and Pakistan in 1947, and Nepal's traditional subservience to British
India was transferred to the new Nehru regime in New Delhi.
parties were formed at that time, the Nepalese Congress Party and
the Nepal Communist Party (NCP, formed in April 1949). The Congress
Party was essentially a party of the pro-Indian big feudals and
big bourgeoisie. While the NCP attracted the hopes and aspirations
of the working class, sections of the peasantry and a big section
of the middle class as well, even at its founding it did not have
a revolutionary programme or ideology. In 1951, a compromise was
engineered by New Delhi (known as the "tripartite agreement", between
the king, the Rana family and New Delhi) to put an end to the revolutionary
upsurge demanding democracy in the country. Under this compromise
the hereditary prime ministership was to be eliminated, the role
of India as the overseer of Nepal was confirmed and a parliament
was established. The king obtained sweeping powers, including the
power to dissolve parliament and rule by decree.
In the wake of
the collapse of the old "dual monarchy" system, mass movements developed
among different sections of the people. The NCP initially denounced
the tripartite agreement and led some struggle against it. Some
armed struggle developed among the peasantry. One important struggle
in the early 1950s was led by Vim Dutta Pantha, who was pro-communist
although not a Party member. The Nepalese police and army were unable
to defeat him. It was left up to the Indian army to defeat Pantha's
forces and behead him.
in the Terai were led by the NCP and some of them went over to arms.
Unfortunately, these struggles were betrayed by the NCP leadership,
and especially by the General Secretary of the NCP, Man Mohan Adhikari,
who went on to become the Prime Minister in 1994 at the head of
the United Nepal Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), on which more
later. Adhikari signed a secret agreement with the Prime Minister
in which the NCP pledged to recognize the monarchy in hopes of lifting
a ban on the Party.
In 1960, parliamentary
elections were held. The entire machinery of the Communist Party
was plunged into the electoral arena. The NCP won only four seats
in a parliament dominated by the Nepalese Congress Party. Under
the Congress Party government, Nepal was brought even more under
the domination of India. Numerous treaties were signed giving over
valuable natural resources, especially control over Nepal's vast
water reserves, to the Indian ruling classes. The Nepalese Prime
Minister even went so far as to oppose Nepal's application for membership
in the United Nations on the grounds that it was unnecessary because
its "elder brother" India was already a member!
After only eighteen
months of the Congress Government, with discontent rapidly growing
among the masses, the king dissolved parliament and arrested all
political leaders and activists. In place of parliament, the panchayat
system was established. Under this system the government was to
be based on village and local elections following traditional patriarchal
authority patterns. At the top, representatives of lower level councils
would serve as advisors to the king. All political parties were
outlawed, and there was constant repression against the various
communist parties in particular.
Of crucial importance
in the history of Nepal's communist movement has been the great
battle against modern revisionism led by Mao Tsetung and the Communist
Party of China against the Khrushchev clique leading the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union. Not only did Mao's line exert deep influence
over the masses in neighbouring Nepal, but the worldwide revolutionary
upsurge which accompanied the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
was knocking on Nepal's borders with India as well.
In 1967, the famous
Naxalbari upsurge began in a village by that name in the upper part
of the Indian state of West Bengal, not too far from Darjeeling.
The village of Naxalbari is only a few kilometres from the border
of eastern Nepal. It is not surprising, then, that the influence
of this movement would quickly spread into the adjoining areas of
Nepal itself. In 1971, in the Jhapa district of eastern Nepal,
a local section of the NCP split off and began a Naxalbari-type
armed struggle. Although the movement had great historical significance,
it could not develop into a people's war. The leadership of the
NCP denounced the movement as "ultra-left", despite its importance.
Under the blows of the enemy, the movement was defeated and its
political leaders degenerated, later rejoining the main revisionist
In 1974, the Fourth
Congress of the Nepal Communist Party was held, which adopted Marxism-Leninism-Mao
Tsetung Thought as its ideology. It concluded that Nepal must pass
through a new democratic revolution and that this could only be
accomplished through armed struggle. At the same time, the Congress
was unclear on what the nature of the armed struggle would be.
The NCP resolutely
boycotted the 1980 referendum which the king had proposed in response
to a new upswing in the mass movement. In 1981, the Party condemned
the revisionist coup in China.
Normal Lama had
became the General Secretary of the Party in 1978 and tried hard
to have the Party adopt a line of "general insurrection" in opposition
to the Maoist line of protracted people's war. While awaiting this
"general insurrection", Lama advocated participation in panchayat
elections. The Party expelled Lama in 1983 and was renamed the Nepal
Communist Party (Mashal). The NCP (Mashal) joined the Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement from its beginning in 1984.
The 5th Congress
of the NCP (Mashal) in 1985 solemnly adopted the path of protracted
people's war as the strategy for revolution in Nepal and even called
for preparations to be made in this direction.2 This position reflected
the burning desire of the great majority of the Party to make revolution.
But numerous problems of political and ideological line prevented
the Party from seriously taking up the tasks of preparing and launching
people's war. Two of the principal errors were:
1) The leadership
of NCP (Mashal) began to more and more vociferously oppose Marxism-Leninism-Maoism,
holding that because the world was still in the stage of imperialism
which Lenin described, it was impossible for the revolutionary ideology
of Marxism-Leninism to reach a third and higher stage of Maoism.
Further, NCP (Mashal) leaders claimed that Mao had made a number
of important errors and, in particular, disagreed with the critique
that Mao had developed concerning some of the errors and weaknesses
of Joseph Stalin and the experience of building socialism in the
Soviet Union under his leadership. The NCP (Mashal) leadership was
unable to fully assimilate the experience of the Cultural Revolution
and draw appropriate conclusions.
2) The NCP (Mashal)
developed the thesis that it was impossible for people's war to
be successfully conducted in Nepal unless it were to break out in
India first. The argument of "two invincible mountains" held that
people's war in Nepal, a landlocked country with the Himalayas on
one side and India on the other three sides, would inevitably have
to face the might of the Indian state and could never hope to resist
such a powerful force. This view saw only the strength of the Indian
ruling classes and not their weaknesses, especially that they are
hated and opposed by the revolutionary masses of India. Revolutionary
war in Nepal will be opposed by the Indian reactionaries but supported
by the Indian people. The geographically unfavourable features (being
landlocked) were one-sidedly used to negate the extremely favourable
aspects - such as mountainous terrain favourable for waging people's
A split took place
in the NCP (Mashal) in 1986, with one group known as the "Central
Organizing Committee" (COC) and the other as the "Central Committee"
(CC). Both of these groupings remained active participants of the
Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. The campaigns of RIM were
actively taken up in Nepal, particularly the support for and popularization
of the People's War in Peru, which struck a deep chord among the
workers, peasants and revolutionary intellectuals of Nepal.
Over a period
of time, the line questions in the Nepalese communist movement began
to sharpen. In both the COC and especially in the CC group, serious
grappling began to take place over the problem of how to wage protracted
people's war in the conditions of Nepal. Furthermore, the CC group
began to develop a more thorough critique of the errors of the COC
leadership [still known as "NCP (Mashal)"] and, most importantly,
adopted and took up the struggle for Marxism-Leninism-Maoism in
opposition to the COC view that Mao had not developed Marxism-Leninism
to a new and higher stage.
Beginning in 1990,
another mass upsurge rocked Nepal. Millions of people rose up to
demand an end to the absolute monarchy. In the face of the mounting
furor of the people, the king quickly reached an agreement with
the Nepalese Congress and the main revisionist groupings (who were
collaborating with the Congress Party) to grant parliamentary elections
for the first time in decades. In return, these reactionary and
reformist parties were to accept the continued existence of the
monarchy, which traded in its partyless panchayat system
for "multi-party democracy". Political parties were legalized and
a period of intense political activity began throughout the country,
involving all sections of the population.
Within the communist
movement, the process of realignment and polarization into two main
camps also intensified under the conditions of revolutionary upsurge.
In December 1991, the Nepal Communist Party (Unity Centre) was formed,
made up of the NCP CC group, a section of the NCP COC, the Lama
group and a group called the Proletarian Labour Organization. The
NCP (Unity Centre) applied for admittance into the Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement and was accepted, while the NCP (Mashal)
remained a participating Party as well. Under Unity Centre leadership,
a nationwide mass organization, the United People's Front, quickly
developed a large following in both urban and rural areas.
On the other hand,
the principal revisionist organizations in Nepal joined together
to form the United Nepal Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), usually
referred to simply as UML. The UML included both the "historic leaders"
of the Nepal communist movement, such as Man Mohan Adhikari, who
had betrayed the struggle in the 1950s, and others who had taken
part in the Naxalbari- type struggles in the early 1970s and then
swung over to right-revisionist positions.
In 1991, the first
parliamentary elections in decades were held. The NCP (Mashal) called
for a boycott, while the NCP (Unity Centre) chose to participate
in the elections through the vehicle of the United People's Front
(UPF). The Nepalese Congress won 110 of the 205 seats. The UML emerged
as the second largest party with a total of 69 seats. The UPF won
nine seats in the Assembly and several others in the upper house
as well. Both the Unity Centre and Mashal participated in the local
elections for a whole myriad of positions on local councils, school
boards, etc, with the Unity Centre winning over 2000 posts and Mashal
The masses, having
been called forth into political struggle by the political upheaval
in the country, were demanding a change in their lives. Needless
to say, the new government did nothing to alleviate the dreadful
conditions of poverty or to challenge the reactionary feudal ownership
system. Under the Congress Party government, the ties to the Indian
reactionary regime and imperialism became tighter still.
With the capture
of Chairman Gonzalo in September 1992, the participating parties
of RIM mobilized a massive campaign to Defend the Life of Chairman
Gonzalo in accordance with the needs of the hour and the call issued
by the Committee of RIM. This campaign reached deep among the workers
and peasants as well as the revolutionary intellectuals active in
the capital and other cities. The support for Comrade Gonzalo reflected
not only support for the PCP and proletarian internationalism, but
also the desire of the Nepalese masses to rise up in revolutionary
warfare. In many of the houses of the poor peasants, the only decoration
on the bare wall was a poster of Chairman Gonzalo. The Mao Centenary
was also celebrated in a big way by the Unity Centre who used it
as an occasion to study and propagate Maoism, especially Mao's teachings
on protracted people's war.
In 1994, new parliamentary
elections were held. The Unity Centre and the United People's Front
it was leading decided to boycott the parliamentary elections. In
areas in which the Unity Centre was strong, especially the Rolpa
area in Western Nepal, the election boycott was particularly successful.
In a reversal of position since the last election, the Mashal party
decided to participate in the parliamentary election, winning two
The biggest winner
of the election was the UML, which formed a government. The election
of so-called "communists" to power was widely commented in the international
press as one of the only examples of "communists coming to power
peacefully". In fact, the UML was communist in name only, and its
taking over the government only meant agreeing to handle the administration
of the old state apparatus (minus the most important component,
the army, which remained firmly under the control of the palace)
on behalf of the exploiting powers. No serious efforts were made
to challenge the existing property relations or the entrenched authority
of the exploiting classes. While the UML was fond of talking about
Marx, Lenin, Stalin and even sometimes Mao, it was really just fulfilling
the same role as that of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
in nearby West Bengal. The CPI(M) has run the state government for
decades and in particular bears responsibility for the murder of
hundreds of revolutionary communists including comrade Charu Mazumdar,
initiator of the Naxalbari uprising and founder of the Communist
Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). This shows that it is quite possible
to protect the interests of the ruling classes while muttering Marxist
phrases or putting up pictures of deceased proletarian revolutionary
The UML government
lasted until November 1995, when a reversal of alliances in parliament
led to its fall and the formation of a new Nepalese Congress government.
is the Key!
clarification of political lines in the ranks of the genuine communists
continued. In May 1994, the Unity Centre decided to expel the Lama
grouping from the Party and to rename itself the Communist Party
of Nepal (Maoist). This was not just a name change, but represented
the culmination of a long struggle comrades had been waging to unite
the Party around a correct Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line. This victory
in the line struggle made it possible for the third plenum of the
Central Committee in March 1995 to take the historic decision to
start the People's War. The previous position of the Unity Centre
in 1991 to launch the People's War had remained an abstract position,
as the "Lamaites" in the Party opposed preparing for the people's
war and instead argued for continued participation in parliament.
Once the momentous
decision was taken, the Party leadership set out to bring to fruition
the ideological, political and organizational transformations necessary
to be able to launch the People's War. Despite the many struggles
over the decades that had been waged against first one then another
type of opportunism and revisionism, the struggle to consolidate
a correct Marxist-Leninist-Maoist understanding needed to be carried
through to the end.
As the CPN(M)
leadership has put it: "There are specific weaknesses in the understanding
of communists in Nepal. Mostly we have been influenced by gradualism.
This means mass struggle, and that some time in the distant future
the mass struggle will itself transition to armed struggle. This
is wrong and goes against Marxist dialectics (it is gradualism,
vulgar evolutionism). The law of dialectics is the unity of opposites.
There was a debate in the Congress. The rightists argued that unity
was permanent and struggle temporary. They are out of the Party
but the understanding of this question is still a problem for the
Party - development takes place through leaps and bounds... After
the struggle with the rightists we have better grasped the Maoist
idea of unity-struggle-transformation. The law of development is
not through addition or subtraction but through qualitative leap.
see that philosophy and ideology and organization is crucial to
initiating people's war to break out of the vicious circle of reformism
- the school of revolution in words and reformism in deeds that
marked the old Mashal party. There needed to be radical rupture
in thinking, deeds, style of organization. Otherwise we cannot initiate
people's war. We have studied the experience of other countries
and especially the works of Mao. The question of philosophy and
ideology must be clear. In fact, it is part of the problem of initiating.
Things don't develop gradually, they need a leap. Mass struggle
will not go over to armed struggle by itself. In other organizational
spheres it is not enough just to make progress, there has to be
rupture in our work style.
"Along with this,
what we are emphasizing is that the revolutionary process does not
develop in a straight line, it goes in zig-zags and there are successes
and defeats. We... cannot say that with only one leap we will be
able to get rid of all the revisionist garbage from the past. So
there is a dialectical process of development - twists and turns,
advances and retreats, etc. Ultimate success, but temporary failures."
period and since, the CPN(M) has been an active participant in RIM,
not only in its public campaigns but also in its internal life as
well. The discussions involved in the adoption of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism
by RIM in December 1993 and the unfolding of the struggle against
the Right Opportunist Line which emerged in the Communist Party
of Peru have also interpenetrated with the Party's strides forward.
The Party pointed out in relation to the two-line struggle in Peru
that, "the revolutionaries cannot remain a silent spectator when
the struggle centres around broader ideological and political questions
with universal implications like this one," and it spoke of "the
direct bearing and significance" of such questions for the revolution
In the last several
years, the CPN(M) leaders have been engaged in a major effort to
study the Maoist line on protracted people's war and apply it to
the concrete realities of Nepal. This includes studying the military
history of Nepal, the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy's forces,
the particularities of Nepal's class formation, history and geography
and so forth. But the key to solving the military line, in the words
of the CPN(M) leadership, "was mainly a question of grasping Maoism
and the struggle for Maoism".
Once the Party
had firmly grasped the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist position on protracted
peoples war, it went about the systematic political, ideological
and organizaional preparations necessary among its members and supporters.
Members were struggled with to make the transformations required
for the Party to be capable of really launching and sustaining a
people's war. Others were encouraged to help the Party as sympathizers.
preparations took place as well. For example, the widely reported
seizure of 40,000 detonating devices and one hundred kilograms of
fuse took place in the days before the initiation. Although a highly
publicized "recovery" operation was launched with the aid of dogs
and helicopters, none of the explosives material was recovered and
it was instead quickly distributed throughout the country.
In areas of strong
Party influence in the backward and poverty-stricken Western Region
of Nepal, Rukum and Rolpa in particular, the class struggle had
been dramatically sharpening in the final months of 1995 and the
beginning of 1996. The regime had launched a vicious campaign called
"Operation Romeo" aimed at rooting out the strength of the Party
in those areas and especially at wiping out military squads being
formed under Party leadership. As many as 1000 Party members and
sympathetic peasants and workers had been arrested and tortured
by the reactionary forces before the People's War began.
The vicious repression
campaign fueled the anger of the masses. Human rights organizations
and even some ruling class elements such as sections of the revisionist
UML party demanded an end to government terror. Mass meetings were
held throughout the country against the repression and in support
of the Party's basic program. In the capital alone, 50 000 people
attended a rally and over 200 000 participated throughout the country.
A delegation of the United People's Front led by Babarum Bhattarai
and Pampa Bhusal delivered a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding
an immediate end to the repression campaign and indicating the revolutionary
demands of the people.
Under these conditions
of an extremely rapid intensification of the class struggle, the
Party leadership took the bold decision to initiate the People's
War on February 13th. Once the decision was taken and "the Rubicon
was crossed", a whole new life began for the Party and its members.
One thousand party activists went underground during the initiation.
Initiation of the People's War
A total of 5000
actions, large and small, were carried out in the Western, Central,
Eastern and Kathmandu Valley regions of Nepal, in what amounts to
sixty-five percent of the country.4 On the first day, seven major
actions were launched. In both Rukum and in the Sindhili district
in Eastern Nepal, police camps were seized after the defenders surrendered.
In another camp in Rolpa a gunfight lasted several hours before
the guerrillas successfully withdrew. In another place in Western
Nepal, a big feudal, almost a local king, was attacked, his property
seized, and his land titles destroyed.
In the Central
Region, an agricultural bank, which was part of a bureaucrat capitalist
project to suck the blood of the peasantry in the name of rural
development, came under attack. In the Gorkha district, squads successfully
sabotaged a comprador-owned distillery, despite the unexpected presence
of 15 policemen busy downing liquor. In the same district, the office
of a notorious U.S. imperialist "aid" organization, "Save the Children",
was ransacked. A symbolic attack was made against the Coca Cola
plant near Kathmandu.
feature of the initiation phase was attacks on agricultural credit
banks and the confiscation and burning of mortgages and loan documents.
In a number of cases, hundreds of peasants led by regular guerrilla
squads captured and burned loan documents belonging to very large
and widely hated feudals. It is estimated that the total value of
these loan documents was more than $200 000 (US) - a very considerable
sum for the Nepalese peasantry.
the assaults, a nationwide propaganda campaign was also unleashed.
In hundreds of villages, processions took place, which all together
involved thousands of men and women in almost equal numbers. Participants
in these processions, some of which were carried out at night by
torch light, were armed with local weapons and led by guerrilla
squads. In 40 to 50 district towns as well as in the capital, squads
under the leadership of the Party carried out the now very dangerous
tasks of postering and wall writing in support of the initiation
of the war. Hundreds of thousands of flyers were distributed along
with 50 000 posters.
The goals of the
initial campaign were:
i) To establish the
politics of armed struggle.
ii) To establish in
practice that the main form of struggle is armed actions and the
main form of organization, at the present stage of the struggle,
is the different types of organized squads.
iii) To prepare the
basis for developing guerrilla zones.
As news of the
initiation swept across the country, a wave of enthusiasm spread
among the masses of the poor and other revolutionary sections of
the people. The dream of standing up, guns in hand, against the
hated oppressors was finally becoming a reality!
government responded by unleashing mass terror campaigns in areas
of Party influence. Even in the capital they went on a mad rage,
stomping around seeking Party leaders and members, furious when
they discovered that most were gone and had not left a forwarding
address! Unable to get their hands on many Party cadre, police arrested
revolutionary masses right and left. Even a music cassette with
revolutionary songs was banned, causing the black market price to
triple, according to press accounts.
On the side of
the government and the palace, panic set in. All of the major parliamentary
political parties, and in particular the revisionist UML, were convoked
by the Prime Minister to express their condemnation of the uprising.
NCP (Mashal) also condemned the uprising as "premature" and "left
extremist". The revolutionary process itself was dividing the political
forces between those who stood for the overthrow of the old regime
and those who objectively were defending it.
At the same time,
the camp of the ruling class was set into disarray by the rising
of the masses. After the initial phase of several weeks of coordinated
attacks was over, the Party leadership summed up the initiation
as a complete success and began preparing for the next waves of
struggle. At first, the enemy crowed over the temporary decline
in armed actions by the people's forces. Actually, the Party and
the forces led by it were preparing to go over to a new and higher
stage of struggle, the initiation of guerrilla warfare.
In March 1996,
the Political Bureau of the Central Committee led by the Secretary
General of the Party, Comrade Prachanda, met to sum up the process
of initiation and to lay further plans. The document of that meeting
put it as follows: "At the moment the attention of the politically
conscious masses, intellectual community and all others is centred
on what would be the next plan of the Party and whether or not we
would be able to preserve and develop what has been newly given
birth to. In this context we should pay serious attention to the
"1. ...The enemy wants
to draw us into a war of quick decision but on our part we want
to avoid it and prolong the war... the enemy wants to incite us
and draw us into confrontation according to his own convenience,
but we want to harass the enemy, tire him out and attack him at
his weak points at the time and place of our convenience according
to our plan.
"2. ...Our policies
and programmes should guarantee our constant interactions with the
masses, because the Party has no separate interests other than the
interests of the masses....
"3. ...We must wage
relentless ideological and political struggle against the tendency
of dragging the Party in the direction of either adventurism or
capitulationism. In the present situation of the enemy on the offensive,
the capitulationist tendency is more dangerous for the Party.
"4. ...The process
of protracted people's war is the process of construction of the
revolutionary Party, revolutionary struggle, revolutionary power
and the revolutionary army, from the simple to the complex... now
it is necessary to concentrate on the development of guerrilla warfare
in a planned way and based on the principle of protracted people's
war and on our own specificities."
Armed with the
above line, the Party undertook active preparations for taking the
struggle to a higher stage. In the areas of Party influence, the
two thousand militarized police sent by the government continued
their reign of terror. Cases of rape of women, burning of houses
and beatings of the young and elderly were widespread. In the "struggling
areas", all of the young men are considered guerrillas and a great
many have had to flee their villages to neighbouring hills and forests.
Women have taken the main responsibility for organizing agricultural
production and mass resistance in the villages. In addition, scores
of women have joined the regular guerrilla squads.
By the end of
July, over 45 people had been killed by the reactionaries throughout
the country and many hundreds jailed. The enemy has offered rewards
of thousands of dollars for information on the whereabouts of leaders
of the People's War. However, a new factor appeared as well: by
July three well-planned ambushes against police patrols in the rural
districts in Western Nepal had taken place. It is clear that the
squads led by the CPN(M), the rudiments of a peoples' army, have
been able to withstand the repression campaign and even counter-attack.
In most cases
the revolutionary squads are extremely underarmed. They have only
a few modern weapons and instead use rudimentary country hunting
weapons, homemade guns and arms such as knives, and even stones.
But by utilizing tactics of pitting "ten against one", taking full
advantage of the element of surprise, with high morale and superior
intelligence, which comes from close integration with the masses,
even ill-armed squads can defeat enemy patrols and capture enemy
arms, as happened in several ambushes in summer 1996. The CPN(M)
is following Mao's teachings of relying on one's own efforts and
procuring armaments principally by taking them from the enemy.
Attacks On CPN(M)
revisionists of the UML are, with the help of some others, busy
throwing mud on the great achievements of the genuine communists
of Nepal and rushing to the support of the old regime, in a way
that reminds one of the infamous Patria Roja which has opposed the
People's War in Peru from the beginning even while claiming to be
The General Secretary
of the UML declared at an international gathering in Brussels that,
"Violence and armed revolt are never a desire of working people
and the communist party.... We have seen that militant mass movements
can also bring about change in the system without much bloodshed....
The present world has moved far away from the time of the Indonesian
and Chilean incidents.
dogmatism, subjectivism, sectarianism, extremism, petit-bourgeois
romanticism, impatience and personal egos dominate extremist minds
and they act as fanatics. Such actions actually harm the revolution,
weaken and isolate the revolutionaries and provide the upper hand
to reactionary regimes."
One result of
the shameless attack on the revolution by the UML and others has
been large-scale desertions from the revisionist and opportunist
organizations, as more and more rank-and-file members and supporters
rally to the cause of the People's War.
The UML revisionists
have not restricted their attacks to mere words. They have lent
support to government efforts to create "self-defence groups" like
the infamous "rondas" in Peru to oppose the uprising.5
Thus we see that
today the "theoretical disputes" of the communist movement in Nepal
(which are themselves part of the broader international struggle
between Marxism and revisionism which some try to dismiss as mere
"history") are again taking on flesh and blood - to oppose or support
revolution. Just as the successful initiation of the People's War
was only possible as a result of a long and bitter struggle against
opportunism, it is clear that revisionism, in Nepal and internationally,
will continue to do everything in its power to stop the revolution
The class enemy
has already leapt quickly at the people, hoping that by using dual
tactics of terror and deception they will sidetrack the revolution.
Even as the Nepalese ruling class dispatches its militarized police
to spread murder and terror throughout the rural districts, they
have also tried to confuse the masses with talk of a "political
solution" to the insurgency. The Prime Minister issued public feelers
The Party has
held "that it would be a crime against the proletariat to start
an armed struggle without the firm conviction of carrying it out
to the end. We shall never allow this struggle to become a mere
instrument for introducing partial reforms... or terminate in a
simple compromise by exercising pressure on the reactionary classes."6
The CPN(M)'s vigorous participation in the repudiation of the Right
Opportunist Line in Peru has helped further strengthen the Party's
ability to respond to these counter-revolutionary dual tactics and
the Party's grasp of the laws of war.7
actor in the months and years ahead will be the reactionary state
of India. It is largely, though not exclusively, through India that
Nepal is linked to the world imperialist system. India has long
regarded Nepal as its protectorate and is almost certain to intervene
militarily if it feels this is necessary. There are also precedents
for Indian aggression against small neighbours, including the invasion
of the Himalayan states of Bhutan and Sikkim which are not far from
Nepal. Sikkim was unceremoniously incorporated into the state of
India by the force of the Indian army.
At the same time,
the Indian rulers must seriously weigh every move they make, given
the widespread hatred for them in Nepal among all classes and strata.
This is particularly the case now that the Nepalese Congress Party,
who are seen as stooges of India, are at the helm of government.
Indian ruling class have their hands full trying to deal with the
explosive contradictions in India itself, and they know that overt
aggression in Nepal will also be fiercely opposed by broad sections
of revolutionary and progressive people in India and throughout
South Asia. For the moment, India has been quiet and has even offered
some "carrots" to Nepal, in the form of relaxed border controls
and so forth. But no one is so naive as to think that India will
watch passively as revolution unfolds in its Himalayan protectorate.
imperialist backers quickly announced the approval of various development
schemes, for example, the building of new roads, whose military
implications are obvious. Israel, which plays a special role in
aiding and training the Nepalese repressive apparatus and intelligence
services, is sure to step up its help to the counter-revolution.
of the People's War in Nepal comes at an important juncture in the
world, when the imperialists and reactionaries have declared their
"final victory" over communism. The possibilities of initiating
and waging revolutionary warfare are being scoffed at in many quarters,
and old verdicts in the long struggle of Marxism versus revisionism
are being called into question, including by the Right Opportunist
Line in Peru. The outbreak of a genuine people's war led by a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist
party participating in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement
will strengthen the proletarian line internationally and deal a
blow to the puffed-up revisionists, who had been pointing to Nepal
as a possibility of "peaceful transition" and vaunting the wonders
It is of course
impossible to predict the future course of the People's War in Nepal.
There can be no doubt that the struggle will be fierce and complex,
and there will be unexpected twists and turns. But already the hope
for revolution is being transformed into a material force, the masses
are aroused as never before and whole sections of the people, especially
but not only the downtrodden janjati and other poor peasants, are
seeking out the Party and its mass organizations. When the pent-up
hatred of the downtrodden against their oppression is unleashed
by a concrete programme for overcoming this oppression, when the
scientific ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism illuminates the path
for the armed struggle of the people, a titanic force is liberated
which can sweep aside all that is decrepit and reactionary.
The sight of hundreds
of thousands of peasants and workers in Nepal standing up and taking
on their enemies cannot help but inspire the oppressed masses throughout
the world. It highlights the decisive role and vitality of the revolutionary
ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and gives further impulse to
the forming and strengthening of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties
and organizations united in the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.
The initiation of the People's War in Nepal is a daring and glorious
step forward for the world revolution.
and the Growth of Communism in Nepal: A Peruvian Scenario in the
Making?" (R. Andrew Nickson, in Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative
Politics, Nov 1992) and "The Paradoxical Support of Nepal's
Left for Comrade Gonzalo" (Stephen L. Mikesell, in Himal,
2 See Nepalese Left
Tribune, October 1985.
3 The Worker,
organ of the CPN(M) in English. June 1996, p 23.
4 Detailed information
of the initial phase of the People's War is contained in The
5 Kathmandu Post,
26 March 1996.
6 From the "Plan for
the Historical Initiation of the People's War" adopted by the Central
Committee in September 1995.
7 In an article entitled
"Two-Line Struggle within the PCP" in the June 1996 issue of The
Worker, the Party summarizes key lessons of the two-line struggle
in Peru concerning the correct policy toward negotiations, the laws
of war, and so forth. The article supports the "detailed critiques
by the Committee of RIM and the Union of Communists of Iran (Sarbedaran)"
contained in AWTW 1995/21.