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Nepal's Political Rights of Passage International Crisis Group 2010-09-29

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Asia Report N° 194 - 29 September 2010
Crisis Group
A. Turbulent Transitions 2
C. Questions and Cultures 3
A. Peace, Process 4
1. The compulsion to collaborate 4
2. Unfinished business 5
1. Entering the game 7
2. The wary embrace 7
3. Form and substance 9
4. Transforming or transformed? 11
C. Risks of a Return to War 11
A. The Lie of the Land 13
1. Emerging prominent actors 13
2. Learning from the Maoists? 15
3. Recruitment, risks and results 16
B. Order in Chaos 19
1. Parties, patronage and the uses of violence 19
2. Mafia market 21
3. Fighting for political space 23
4. Rites of protest 24
5. Bounded disorder 25
C. Anarchy or Acculturation? 26
A. Public Security, Policing, Politicking 29
1. A tiger with no claws 30
2. Stepping back 33
3. The politics of policing 34
4. Crime-fighting, in-fighting 34
5. The cancer and the cure 36
B. A Necessary Evil 37
1. Not set in stone 37
2. Sovereign or subaltern? 38
3. The state's servants 39
4. Political parties: can't live with them, can't live without them 40
5. Ofthe people, bythe people, for the people? 41
1. Pressures and prospects for transformation 42
2. The demand for dysfunction 43
3. More flexible than fragile 44
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N°194, 29 September 2010    Page ii
A. Map of Nepal 47
C. About lhe Inlernalional Crisis Group 50
D. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia Since 2007 51
E. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 53
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°194
29 September 2010
Nepal's transition from war to peace appears chaotic.
Many commentators warn of coming anarchy; the establishment fears a collapse ofthe social order and the fragmentation of the nation. But such fears are misguided.
Nepal is not in chaos; its transitions may be messy and
confusing but they are not anarchic. There is an order
within the political change, albeit one that can be mysterious
and unappealing to outsiders; the resilience of Nepal's political processes acts against fundamental transformations.
This report attempts to understand the country's political
processes and cultures and reassess the state ofthe peace
process by examining three major questions.
Has Nepal put its civil war with the Maoists behind it?
The shift from war to peace was rapid and remains incomplete. But the peace process is much stronger than it
often seems. There have been significant structural transformations ofthe Maoist movement since the 2006 ceasefire. For example, the shift to "quantity rather than quality"
for electoral politics broadened the movement but diluted
its revolutionary core. Still, the Maoists remain highly
organised and disciplined - and the most effective political
force inNepal.
The political atmosphere is more polarised than ever.
Factions within the major parties as well as fringe groups
openly call for a revision ofthe peace process. Neither
side is likely to go back to war easily but there are also
limits to how hard they can be pushed. The Maoists are
by now better prepared for open politics than for war. But
they will not accept sidelining indefinitely. The army has
some elite support for renewed conflict. But it is unlikely
to act without Delhi's nod, which is itself improbable
unless there is unexpected Maoist domination ofthe state.
Do the multiple, complex new forms of political violence
and contestation add up to serious new conflict risks?
There has been a mushrooming of political parties and
groups pressing ethnic and regional agendas. There has
also been a perceived increase in organised crime and political violence. Many see this as a direct consequence of
the Maoist insurgency and fear the prospect of anarchy or
national disintegration.
The picture, however, is not so simple. None ofthe new
groups challenges the state in the way the Maoists did.
They offer no existential threat to the political system but
largely work within it; their cadres have often joined under
low risk conditions for immediate benefits and lack the
dedication of hard-core Maoists. Opportunism is the name
ofthe game, and groups are making the most ofthe weak
law and order situation during the transition.
The ways violence is used are ordered and bounded by
political and economic structures. The involvement of mainstream parties, police and administration officials in profiting from violence and offering protection is becoming
institutionalised. Political culture as a whole has not been
transformed but has become more tolerant of overt use of
force; the patterns that are being consolidated will be hard
to uproot.
The only real risk of serious unrest stems from the gathering backlash against federalism and programs for political
inclusion, such as quotas and reservations. Powerful elites
are not keen on dismantling the unitary state and are even
less happy to relinquish their privileged access to jobs,
money and political power. The transition to federalism
will present the most serious challenge, and conflict risk,
ofthe near future.
What is the new role and nature ofthe state, as embodied
by the security forces, political institutions and the civil
service? How the state behaves is of critical importance
in reducing conflict risks. In the most immediate terms,
the state's response to instability can be seen in policing
and public security efforts. These have been undermined
by a lack of strategic clarity, the politicisation of policing
and internal rivalries within the security sector. In any
case, security challenges cannot be dealt with solely by
this sector. The roots of instability lie in entrenched political
cultures that good policing alone cannot address - and
that the army is particularly incapable of tackling. Defusing conflict risks in the long term will require constructive
Development experts assume that the state is there to
provide services and that if it fails to do so it will face a
crisis of legitimacy. Nepal features high on the lists of
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010 Page ii
fragile or failing states. But the state is more flexible than
fragile. It endures - and has survived the conflict surprisingly unscathed, and unreformed. This is partly because
its own raison d'etre is not serving citizens so much as
servicing the needs of patronage networks and keeping
budgets flowing and corruption going. The state is dysfunctional by demand. It is slow to reform because elite
incentives are invested in the status quo and public pressure is rarely acute.
Nepal's revolution is proceeding in accordance with longstanding political rites. Party behaviour- even revolutionary
behaviour- is highly constrained by a set of sophisticated
unwritten rules. The Maoists are not the outsiders they
sometimes appear: they share a surprising amount of political values with the other parties. But their reincorporation into the political world is still incomplete, as is their
Kathmandu/Brussels, 29 September 2010
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°194
29 September 2010
The euphoria ofthe April 2006 people's movement that
promised peace, democracy and change has given way to
renewed violence. The Maoists are out of government
and on the streets, threatening "a decisive revolt". In
April 2010, the embattled government, which commanded
a parliamentary majority (just), prepared to call the army
out in its defence. The peace process is in tatters, with its
signatories questioning its Tightness and relevance. The
main parties' youth groups engage in almost daily clashes.
The Maoists continue to murder opponents or critics. The
Nepali Congress's (NC) activists kill one rival and their
student leaders chop off the fingers of another in Kathmandu's main campus. The Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist-Leninist), UML, Youth Force (YF) carries khukuri knives and uses the force of arms to protect
its leaders and muscle in on contracts.
Armed groups in the Tarai plains kidnap, murder and
loot. Ethnic activists warn they will take up arms to secure
autonomous states. The elites retrench, turning against
secularism, federalism and republicanism. Fear and loathing stalk the capital when the Maoists descend for May
Day demonstrations. Youth are disillusioned. With more
jobseekers than jobs on offer, most dream of opting out
by migrating overseas. The people are close to breaking
point, betrayed by politicians who promised the paradise
of New Nepal but have delivered only dysfunction and
disorder. Critics claim that the Maoists, for some the harbingers of change, still threaten to become the next Khmer
Rouge. In the same breath they accuse them of being just
like the old parties, only more so.
The state has retreated and delivers neither public security
nor public goods. It fails to meet popular aspirations and
is unrepresentative, unsuccessful and unloved, teetering
on the brink between fragility and failure. The parties
have already missed the original deadline of 28 May 2010
for the new constitution. Prime Minister Nepal resigned
on 30 June 2010; he continues to head a caretaker government due to the failure to agree on a new prime minister in eight rounds of parliamentary votes since his resignation. The state is close to collapse.
Yet Nepal's politicians have a habit of coming up with
last-minute agreements. They trade venomous insults in
public but in private tap into a deeper vein of common
values and mutual recognition. Their cadres may be knifing each other but the top leaders exchange smiles, handshakes and hugs.1 They detest each other's politics but
quietly convene in district headquarters and far-flung
villages to carve up budgets and post-conflict compensation. They take the long-suffering people for granted. But
the people take their rulers' behaviour for granted too.
The relationship is simultaneously one of grudging tolerance and mutual mistrust. As one district police chief put
it, "The people have no trust in the state and the state has
no trust in the people".2 But the people still believe that
things are better than during the war and will probably get
better yet.3
Nepal is not in chaos. Its transitions may be messy but
they are not anarchic - and most likely never will be.
There is structure beneath the surface of apparently random
events. A sophisticated political culture shapes party behaviour. It defines the parameters for revolt, even when
rebels appear to present an existential threat to the status
quo. There are rules ofthe game that must be acknowledged and honoured, as much in the breach as the observance. Even revolution proceeds in accordance with
preordained rites.
1 For the photo of Mohan Baidya, Madhav Nepal, Prachanda
and Ishwor Pokharel hugging and grinning, and details on their
warm personal relations see: Rajendra Phuyal, "Kahile arop,
kahile angalo", Kantipur, 16 January 2010. On the three Bahun
men at the top of each party: Haribahadur Thapa, Gopal Khanal
and Ganga B.C., "3 dal, 3 neta", Kantipur, 10 April 2010.
2 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, April 2009.
3ln a 2010 Himalmedia survey, 37.3 per cent of respondents
said the situation in the country had improved and another 20.7
per cent said the country's situation was good and could improve gradually. 64.2 per cent said that peace and security in
Nepal had improved. "Janata parivartan chahanchhan", Himal
Khabarpatrika, 29 April 2010.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 2
A. Turbulent Transitions
Nepal is passing through multiple turbulent transitions.4
In many respects the post-conflict dynamics have cemented the case against a return to war. But the shift from
war to peace was rapid and remains incomplete. The root
causes of the Maoist insurgency have barely been addressed, redress for past wrongs has been minimal and
steps to guard against repetition only tentative. The relatively straightforward structure of the ten-year war has
given way to a more complex scenario, in which new
demands and new actors have gained prominence. The
"peace process" is a reassuring concept but only embraces
certain aspects ofthe transitional processes. It has not
delivered a linear progression from conflict to stability.
Instead it has prompted new conflicts and reinforced
more cyclical patterns of political violence.
The two armed parties have maintained a solid ceasefire
since the immediate aftermath ofthe April 2006 people's
movement. But violence has not ceased: there have been
hundreds of killings in the Tarai, high-profile assassinations in the capital and major cities, repeated armed
clashes between political party youth wings and violent
competition for state and private resources.5 Maoist
combatants are yet to be integrated and rehabilitated.
4Recent Crisis Group reporting on Nepal's transition includes
Asia Report N° 163, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, 19 February 2009; Asia Report N°173, Nepal's Future: In Whose
Hands?, 13 August 2009; and Asia Report N°184, Nepal:
Peace and Justice, 14 January 2010. Full Nepali translations of
all reports and briefings from 2007 onwards are available at
5 Statistics on violent incidents in Nepal are weak and often
contradictory. Nevertheless, the data does present a relatively
accurate picture ofthe scale of violence in the country. The Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) puts the number of killings since the April 2006 ceasefire at between 1,883 and 1,893.
INSEC's Human Rights Yearbooks from 2006 to 2009 and
Trend Analyses for 2010 report a total of 1,883 killings from
the April 2006 ceasefire to June 2010 (252 from May to December 2006, 545 in 2007, 541 in 2008, 473 in 2009 and 72
from January to June 2010). The same yearbook numbers,
when combined with the most recent "Report on killings" for
2010, estimates 1,893 (the difference being 82 from January to
May 2010). Between 2007 and 2009, 886 people were injured
in violent clashes (199 in 2007, 357 in 2008 and 330 in 2009).
See Nepal Human Rights Yearbooks 2008 to 2010, INSEC;
Monthly Trend Analyses January-June 2010, INSEC; "Report
on killings", January-May 2010, INSEC. The period between
mid-April 2008 and mid-April 2009 saw a record 768 strikes
and 1,011 road blockades. Kosh Raj Koirala, "2065 B.S.: A
Year of Strikes",, 14 April 2009. Since then,
from May 2009 to July 2010, there have been 140 days of
blockades. "Protests, Rallies, Bandhs and Blockades Maps May
2009-July 2010", OCHA,
Other parties accuse the former rebels of maintaining
their youth wing, the Young Communist League (YCL),
as a paramilitary outfit. The UML and some other parties
have responded by building their own forces. At the same
time, Maoist cadres have been the major victims (apart
from unaffiliated citizens) of lethal violence. At least 79
party workers have been killed during the ceasefire period.6
Successive governments have promised to restore law
and order. But since the launch of a much-vaunted "special security policy" in August 2009, there have been
hundreds of killings.7
There are starkly divergent views on current patterns of
instability. The Maoists, and most ofthe newer political
movements, insist that rapid social transformation is the
solution. But for many others, too much uncontrolled
change is itself the problem. Some feel that there is already
too much democracy - that unbridled demands for rights
have eclipsed formerly stable social responsibilities. Others argue that the problem lies not in calls for rights but in
the state's inability to respond to them. Those who argue
for fundamental change tend to accept instability as a natural aspect ofthe transition. Others, including many senior
representatives ofthe state and the older political parties,
fear a catastrophic breakdown of national unity, discipline
and the social order.
Many see instability as a consequence ofthe Maoist insurgency. It undermined the state and taught people to
"follow the Maoists' example" by using violence in the
name of political mobilisation.8 "We've started a very
In March 2010, a Maoist newspaper estimated 72 Maoists had
been killed since the peace deal. "Shantiprakriyapachhi 72
Maobadi karyakartako hatya", Janadesh, 2 March 2010. Since
then at least seven more have been killed. "Report on the killings", INSEC, March2010-May 2010
index.php?type=reports&id=2&lang=en; "YCL cadre 'murdered'", Republica, 10 June 2010; "PLA man found dead",
Republica, 27 June 2010; "YCL leader shot dead in Bara", The
Kathmandu Post, 30 July 2010.
7 The state-owned newspaper puts the number of people killed
"undervarious pretexts" between the launch ofthe home ministry's special security plan (SSP) on 17 August 2009 and early
March 2010 at 58. "Special security plan to be bolstered", The
Rising Nepal, 4 March2010. INSEC reports a total of 225 killings for the same period (182 from September to December
2009 and 43 in January and February 2010). "Nepal human
rightsyearbook2010", INSEC,February 2010,p. 371;Monthly
Trend Analyses, January-February 2010, INSEC. Because of
the discrepancy in INSEC's own figures as noted in fn. 5, estimates for the number killed from the SSP launch to June 2010
are either 254 or 264.
8 Arguments along this line often also draw on the fact that
many leaders of post-Maoist movements were with the Maoists
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 3
worrying tendency: Tf I can get ahead in politics by killing a man then I'll kill'", observed one social worker in a
restive district.9 "We're now experiencing the product of
the conflict - we're reaping what was sowed", commented
a chief district officer (CDO).10
For some, increased ethnic and regional mobilisation
threatens national disintegration. "Look at the upsurge in
ethnic activism, with every group suddenly jumping up to
demand rights", complained a senior official. "This is the
poison the Maoists have fed them".11 More often than not,
such fears are related not solely to organised political
movements but to a broader concern at the breakdown of
traditional deference and social hierarchies. "The whole
social order has disintegrated", complained one police
officer. "Look at the language young people use - they no
longer respect their elders".12
For the Maoists and groups campaigning on ethnic and
regional agendas, however, the slow nature of change in
social and political structures is the problem. Reform and
transformation would answer calls for greater rights;
unrest is caused not by raising demands but by failing to
address them. In this view, the current transition will be
productive. But it will be rocky unless and until the state
and major political actors embrace the need for more
dramatic change. As one district-level Maoist leader explained when asked why his party had not participated in
Democracy Day celebrations in 2009, despite leading the
We have our own definition of loktantra (democracy).
The loktantra we have now is incomplete and we
don't recognise it as loktantra. Let Christians celebrate Christmas and Muslims Eid; we'll celebrate the
days that fit with our values and beliefs in the same
way - but this loktantra does not. For some people
what we have now is already too much loktantra. For
others, this much is just fine. But we think there is
much further to go. People's rights are still not secured. We're only partly along the way so we say very
frankly that we're still struggling - peacefully - to
achieve the goal of all people getting full rights.13
The halting nature of political change and the difficulties
of forging consensus or delivering results have led to a
widespread sense of frustration. The public is impatient
earlier, even though some of them only for short periods of
time. Well-known examples include the Tarai armed group
leaders Jai Krishna Goit and Jwala Singh Madhesi leader Upendra Yadav and Tharu leader Laxman Tharu.
9 Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April 2009.
10 Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April 2009.
11 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
12 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
13 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
with the police and administrative officials; other parties
are impatient at the Maoists' failure to complete a transformation; the Maoists are frustrated at the blocking of
their agenda and their failure to regain a place in government; security forces are impatient with an unhelpful
political leadership. Public security may not have reached
crisis point but there are growing questions of legitimacy
and confidence. Peace has not lived up to its promise, either
for those who sought a return to the old order or those who
hoped for radical change.
There is also a widely shared sense that while the conflict
was bloody it offered certainties that were, in comparison
to the more confusing post-ceasefire scenario, reassuring.
"There was plenty of shanti-suraksha14 during the conflict", said one police officer. "People knew where they
stood and were only scared ofthe Maoists, the rest was
OK".15 Some police and army personnel suggest that it
would have been easier if there had been a fight to the finish and one clear victor, whetherthe Maoists orthe state.16
Maoist activists also look back fondly on the armed
struggle. Back then they knew who their enemies were
and focused on a single-minded political-military campaign.17 Many have found it harder to cope with the
messy realities of working peacefully in a fragmented,
pluralist environment.18
C. Questions and Cultures
Many questions about the peace process remain open.
Was the twelve-point agreement a mistake? Can the
Maoists ever be "mainstreamed"? Could one side have
eventually achieved a decisive victory if there had not
been a ceasefire? Was the restored parliament justified in
declaring Nepal a secular state? Should the monarchy have
been removed (at all, or without a referendum or real electoral choice)? Was signing up to federalism a mistake?
Literally "peace and security", but a phrase that in many contexts equates to "law and order".
15 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
16 A police officer who had fought against the Maoists said:
"Sometimes I feel nostalgic for the conflict. At least we knew
where things stood. It was tough and dangerous but there were
two sides and we had a sense of purpose. It might have been
easier now if we'd gone for a final battle. Instead no one won
and no one lost so we're in this confusing situation. A more
clear-cut outcome might have been better, whoever won". Crisis Group interview, Parsa, April 2009.
17 Crisis Group interviews, Maoist cadres, Salyan and Banke,
February 2010.
18 A Maoist area in-charge and veteran ofthe movement said:
"We can't go ahead in a one-sided way. We need to work with
others. It's a much more complicated situation." Crisis Group
interview, Banke, February 2010.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 4
But there are really three key questions. First, can the
Maoists be accommodated within the existing political
order with mutual compromises - and with some productive
transformation? Second, do any ofthe other challenges to
traditional politics and the state add up to game-changing
forces? Third, what will be the role ofthe state?
The answers require looking at transformations, institutions, ideologies and - the central thread of this report -
political cultures. "The War That Was" (Section II) asks
to what extent the civil war has been resolved; "The Conflicts to Come" (Section III) assesses the nature of new
threats to stability. Questions of institutions, relations and
processes are most fully developed in the third section.
Despite its critical role, the state hardly ever receives serious
consideration - in Crisis Group's reporting or elsewhere.
"The Enduring State" (Section IV) tries to redress the
balance by examining the nature, interests and behaviour
ofthe state, and asking how these factors affect the prospects for conflict resolution and the risks of greater unrest.
This report does not directly address Nepal's immediate
priorities, such as constitution-writing or power-sharing.
Future reports will address some of these issues such as
the debates over federalism. This report draws on long
experience of politics in the capital but is based primarily
on interviews carried out beyond Kathmandu, in around
half of Nepal's 75 districts across all five development
regions.19 It offers some fundamental re-readings ofthe
peace process and Nepali politics in general to help interpret events. But it does not offer any neat prescriptions.
It is therefore presented as a background paper without
A. Peace, Process
The peace process is much stronger than it often appears.
The compulsions on the parties to collaborate - even as
they maintained major political differences - guarded
against complete collapse, in particular in the early stages.
At the same time, the "peace process" does not adequately
describe the reality of recent political change. The critical
negotiations were those that preceded the peace, in particular the series of talks and expanding engagement with
the Maoists that led to the November 2005 twelve-point
The May 2006 ceasefire delivered a durable military
truce. But the negotiations since then have done little
more than reiterate, or elaborate, the basic configuration
developed in 2005. There have been elections, a transition
to a republic and a declaration of federalism. But progress
has not been linear. The war is indeed over but there is
much unfinished business.
1.    The compulsion to collaborate
The compulsions that led to the peace process were fundamental. Realising that they could not win militarily, the
Maoists needed the parties to get back into mainstream
politics. Forthe parties, the alliance with the Maoists was
the only way to restore democracy. The conflict was reshaped with the abolition of the monarchy; the Maoist-
state polarisation re-emerged and has in fact worsened
since the Maoists' resignation from government in May
2009. While this has exacerbated the sense of a return to
the old adversarial shape of conflict, it has also made
clear that a war would not be any more decisive now than
it was then.
The old compulsions have been complemented by new
pressures. One is the flow of resources that the peace
process precipitated. Many ofthe efforts made under its
framework receive significant outside funding, from the
allowances forthe Maoists' cantoned People's Liberation
Army (PLA) to interim relief payments for conflict victims21
Crisis Group attempted to visit a fair cross-section of districts, but travel plans were affected by practical considerations
and the far-western region is woefully under-represented, with
just two research visits to Kailali. Crisis Group visited many of
the more interesting, or sensitive, districts more than once and,
in some cases, repeatedly. Research took place from February
2009 to March 2010, although some interviews are frombefore
and after that period.
See Crisis Group Asia Report N° 106, Nepal's New Alliance,
28 November 2005.
21 The World Bank's Emergency Peace Support Project has
pledged $50 million to the government of Nepal, $18.55 million was earmarked for payments to cantoned Maoist combatants
and $28.23 million for conflict victims and their families. The
grant for cantoned Maoist cadres was suspended after reports of
misuse. The World Bank now plans to reassign the money to
conflict victims. "Restructuring Paper on a Proposed Project
Restructuring of Nepal Emergency Peace Support Project",
World Bank, 22 April 2010. The Nepal Peace Trust Fund
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 5
In order not to upset donors and keep funds flowing, the
parties accept their terminology and some formal structures and ensure some targets are reached, regardless of
connections between the formal peace process and actual
political struggles.
The benefits of political cooperation are immediate and
tangible and all parties need them to sustain their patronage networks. "How does an all-party meeting work?"
asked a district education officer. "Students who've failed
their exams pressure the principal to pass them; he comes
to the CDO, who calls an all-party meeting to help resolve
the situation. The NC, UML and Maoists look at the list,
say 'OK - that's three of our people each, let's pass them'
and they get passed".22 The reason why some institutions
set up under the peace process work is precisely because
they have been co-opted by such political processes. The
Local Peace Committees (LPCs) are a case in point.
Some of them have stalled over disagreements over
chairmanships or the distribution of interim relief payments.23 But in many cases compromise was reached,
relief payments were handed out (though not necessarily
to victims) and the LPCs now function as effective all-
party bodies for negotiating local issues.24
The effects of politicisation are enabling because they are
limiting at the same time. A senior civil servant in a western district said: "Yes, there's the odd incident but overall
the situation is good. The parties talk aggressively sometimes but they actually work together. The local peace
committee is up and running and the more they do the
better-they can solve problems".25 Informal distributions
provide a stable framework in which political tensions
can play out with a degree of certainty that the rules of
the game will not be called into question.
2.    Unfinished business
The ceasefire ended armed conflict, the Maoists entered
open politics and elections were held in April 2008. But
much other business remains unfinished. The Maoists
have only returned some of the property they seized.26
Many people displaced by them are still afraid to return.27
(NPTF), with a donor commitment of approx. $54.5 million,
has allocated 54.94 per cent of its budget to cantonment management (including a subsistence allowance of Rs. 72-110
(approx. $1-1.5) per day to each combatant through the Local
Cantonment Management Committee) and physical infrastructure for the cantonments. "Four monthly progress report: Report
No. 9", Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, Government of
Nepal, July 2010. Complementing the NPTF is the United Nations Peace Fund for Nepal (UNPFN) with a total budget of
$32.1 million. It has allocated $1.2 million for the verification
of Maoist combatants, $14 million for the rehabilitation and
reintegration of discharged combatants and more than $11 million for conflict victims and transitional justice institutions. All
the funds are channelled through UN agencies, particularly
UNDP, UNICEF and OHCHR. "UN Peace Fund for Nepal Fact
Sheet", UNDP, 14 June 2010. All parties try to profit from interim relief and compensation for victims. For example, the NC
submitted a list of 1,328 supporters killed during the conflict to
Prime Minister Nepal, demanding the government declare them
martyrs and compensate their families. Balkrishna Adhikari,
"Kangresdvara 13 say 28 shahidko namprastav", Naya Patrika,
19 April 2010. Different from the Rs. 100,000 (approx. $1,300)
interim relief for a conflict victim, the families of government-
declared martyrs are entitled to Rs. 1,000,000 (approx.
$13,000). Similarly, the Maoists sometimes press fortheir supporters to be categorised for example as internally displaced
persons (IDPs). In Bhojpur, for example, disagreement over
declaring Maoist supporters IDPs was one reason for the Maoists to boycott the LPC. Crisis Group interview, human rights
activist, January 2010.
22 Crisis Group interview, April 2009.
23 For example in Palpa, the Maoists started boycotting the LPC
after accusing its coordinator, an NC leader, of hiring NC supporters as LPC staff. Earlier, there had been a dispute when the
newly formed UML-led government stopped paying the LPC
secretaries appointed under the Maoist-led government. Narayan Pangeni, "Kangres karyakarta raheko shanti samitima
charko matbhed", Janadisha, 6 April 2010. In a rare case, the
parties in Nuwakot altogether failed to form an LPC and had to
return the budget of Rs. 650,000 (approx. $8,600). "Samiti na-
banda rakam phirta", Nepal Samacharpatra, 16 April 2010.
24For example in Syangja a 21-member LPC had been set up
by April 2009 and appeared to be functioning well. According
to a senior government official all parties cooperate and the
committee investigated problems and enabled compensation
claims. Crisis Group interview, Syangja, 20 April 2009. In
Dhankuta, 103 names of people killed during the conflict had
been submitted to the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction
and at least 40 had received relief payments by January 2010.
Crisis Group interview, government official, Dhankuta, January
2010. A journalist in Taplejung said that most of the relief
payments have been made, but that UML, NC and Maoists had
each nominated one non-victim as well. Crisis Group interview,
February 2010. A human rights activist in Banke said about interim relief: "Not all [victims] have received it; but all fake
cases have". Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
25 Crisis Group interview, Gulmi, 21 April 2009.
26 The Maoists appear to have returned most ofthe land they
seized during the conflict in the central and eastern Tarai as
well as in the hills. The situation is different in the mid and far
western Tarai, where they appear to hold on to most of the
seized land. "Land commitments in Nepal's peace process only
partially fulfilled", The Carter Center, June 2010.
27 In a 2009 survey of IDPs conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council, 38 per cent of respondents said they did not want
to return to their place of origin due to a lack of security. "Distant
from durable solutions: Conflict induced internal displacement
in Nepal", Norwegian Refugee Council and the IDP Working
Group, June 2009. A 2008 INSEC report on IDPs in the Mid-
Western and Far-Western Development Regions cites trauma
caused by Maoist assaults on returnees who refused to support
them in the CA elections as a major factor for the reluctance of
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Crimes committed by both sides remain unaddressed.
There has not been a single prosecution in a civilian court,
nor has either the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
or the Commission on Disappeared Persons been formed.28
"Peace isn't here yet, absolutely not", said a government
official, "We've got respite from the conflict but not social peace. People are still at risk and there's a sense that
anything can happen at any time".29 But there is also
confidence that there will not be a return to war. For example, some heavily hit areas have seen significant investment.30
The failure to address these issues has prolonged the conflict hangover. Social mistrust and fear are still deep, exacerbated by continuing intimidation and violence; there
have been a number of revenge killings. Incidents like the
killings of three Maoist cadres in Dhungesanghu village
development committee (VDC) of Taplejung during 2009
are not isolated episodes.31 The general atmosphere of mistrust is tangible. Maoists outside Taplejung are convinced
they were attacked for revenge;32 Maoists in the district
itself suspect attempts to provoke them into counter-
violence.33 Others are worried that even the slightest incident could result in clashes and all recognise that minor
disputes quickly escalate into khukuri violence.34 And
"whatever the cause of violence", an NGO representative
said, "every case becomes politicised".35
The question is how far any of the unfinished business
matters for the peace process and what of it could result
in a return to conflict. Whatever has not been addressed
primarily affects those constituencies not powerful enough
to force addressing. Conflict victims have been used as
bargaining chips by all parties, but do not have any leverage. Their grievances persist as background pressure and
translate into local violence but not into national politics.
None ofthe pending issues is important enough for any
ofthe decisive parties to go back to war or force major
political confrontation.36
IDPs to return. "Shashastra dvadvama madhya ra sudurpash-
chimka antarik visthapit", INSEC, September 2008, p. 13.
28 For details see Crisis Group Report, Nepal: Peace and Justice, op. cit. Both bills were tabled in parliament in April 2010.
Amendment proposals have been submitted and the bills are
now awaiting discussion. Crisis Group telephone interview,
peace ministry official, Kathmandu, June 2010. But there has
been no substantive progress. On commitments to transitional
justice as mere lip-service: JanakNepal, "Sankramankalinnyay
bhashamai simit", Kantipur, 27 March 2010.
29 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
30 In Dang, a number of new mid-range hotels and multi-storey
houses have been built over the last couple of years. Three new
cement factories have opened in the districts to cater to the
building boom. Crisis Group interview, journalist, Dang, February 2010. A hotel owner in Bhojpur had had money set aside
for expanding his hotel since during the war, but built only after
the peace deal, citing concerns over showing his wealth. Crisis
Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010. Land prices both in
Dang and Bhojpur have gone up significantly. Crisis Group interviews, January-February 2010.
31 During the conflict, children were among the first killed in
Taplejung: a fifteen-year-old girl was killed by the Maoists and
a fourteen-year-old boy was shot dead by the police inside a
classroom, both in December 2001. This set the stage for particularly nasty violence. Between 2001 and 2006, just over 200
people were killed in Taplejung (129 by the security forces and
50 by the Maoists), of whom 75 per cent had been living below
the poverty line. 32 ofthe Maoists' victims were abducted and
tortured. The residents of some villages were heavily targeted.
For example, security forces killed four Limbu villagers from
one ward in Tapethok VDC between November 2001 and
January 2003, either shooting them on sight or after arrest. All
were poor but had no affiliation with the Maoists. "Dashvarshe
dvandvama Taplejung", Vatavaran Samrakshan tatha Vikas
Manch, Taplejung, July 2009, p. 19.
The reason the Maoists were - and remain - important is
that they represented an existential challenge to the state
and the political system. No other movement has presented
a systematic and fundamental challenge of this nature.
Nor are they likely to. The other parties are neither transformed nor transformative. The Madhesi parties are no
exception. They introduced a new single agenda but otherwise operate in the same ways as other established parties.
While individual politicians are open to new ideas, the
erstwhile "mainstream" parties are uninterested in, and
incapable of, significant reform. They not only represent
the status quo (in terms of political culture and program);
in many respects they are the status quo. Their role, defined
by circumstance as well as free will, is precisely not to
change and not to offer innovation.
This is not to say that the Maoist demand for transformation is necessarily legitimate, or as consistently planned
and pursued as their private and public pronouncements
claim. Whether they will be primarily a force for transformation, primarily transformed by more powerful forces,
or a mixture ofthe two, is the central question ofthe transition. The answer is not yet clear. But there is already
Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district secretary, Dhankuta,
24 January 2010.
33 Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district in-charge, Taplejung, February 2010.
34Crisis Group interviews, Dhungesanghu, 4 February 2010.
35 Crisis Group interview, Taplejung, February 2010.
36 The extent to which political violence committed by new
groups is a result ofthe conflict is discussed in Section III. A.2.
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more evidence of structural change than most interpretations admit.37
1.    Entering the game
The Maoists gave up strategies as well as institutional
structures for access to mainstream politics. Among the
first and most visible changes were the "dissolution" of
the Maoist parallel state and the cantonment ofthe PLA.
On the face of it these were huge concessions, which
were criticised by some, for example the Indian Maoists,
as capitulation.38 The practical impact was minimal, given
that the "people's government" existed in name only and
the PLA remained a deterrent against a return to war even
while in cantonments. But the ideological implications
were profound. Both implied a renunciation ofthe claim
to full parallel legitimacy and de facto recognition ofthe
legitimacy ofthe old state.
The shift to electoral politics required the Maoists to
change how they recruit and to redefine basic tactics.
Rather than being a purely cadre-based party with strict
admission criteria, they now needed "quantity rather than
quality".39 While tactics in the past had aimed at "disruptive domination", they now had to establish a permanent
organisational presence capable of campaigning widely.
With mass mobilisation came greater financial pressures.
The Maoists used their presence across the country to
assert their claim to political space and a share in local
budgets and other state resources. Better organised than
other parties in many places, they successfully muscled
their way into local bodies such as consumer committees,
forest user groups and school or hospital management
committees.40 They not only secured new financing for
the expensive electoral competition and the maintenance
Most recent reporting on the Maoists, including Crisis
Group's papers, has focused more on ideological and policy
issues than on structural factors. See for example Crisis Group
Asia Report N°132, Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists,
18 May 2007, work by analysts like Kiyoko Ogura, who offers
detailed descriptions of formal changes in structure and policy,
most analysis by journalists (for example Aditya Adhikari's
work) - and the bulk of writing by Maoists themselves, be it
the prolific journalism in Maoist and other publications, or the
rash of books that have appeared as some comrades find more
time on their hands.
38 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?,
op. cit., p. 12. Late Azad, spokesperson of the CPI(M), reiterated this position in a long interview in The Hindu, 14 April
2010, available at www.thehindu.coni/multimedia/archive/00103/
39 Crisis Group interview, NC district leader, Musikot, 22
February 2010.
40 For a discussion of the importance of local bodies for party
politics see Section III.B.l.
oftheir extensive party structure but also obtained access
to local state and para-statal appointments for their cadres.
Individual cadres had to learn the new rules ofthe game.
Only a handful of Maoist leaders had any experience in
parliament and none of them in government when they
entered the interim government on 1 April 2007. They
faced adversaries who knew precisely what they were doing
and had well-established networks in the bureaucracy.
The Maoists made early efforts to build similar networks.41
They also reached out to and reassured the business
Entering open politics came with serious risks, but the
transformation was less radical than the classic guerrilla
to politician dichotomy might suggest. Despite their limited parliamentary experience, the Maoists had always
been a political party. Even during the war, their organisational structures and ways of operating reflected this.
2.    The wary embrace
The Maoists do have a different view ofthe state to other
parties. They are still a revolutionary party in philosophy
and wish "the people" to be actively involved in defining
and protecting their own interests. This means keeping the
state subordinate to the people - and has set them on a
collision course with other parties in constitution-writing,
especially their view ofthe judiciary and their belief that
there should be a fundamentally reconstructed security
sector.43 Many Maoists express a genuine belief in popular
41 Especially in key ministries, they tried to exchange senior
civil servants likely to oppose them for ones likely to support
them. In October 2008 alone, the Maoist-led government transferred sixteen ministerial secretaries. For example, they made
Govinda Kusum, at the time at the ministry for general administration, secretary at the home ministry. Umesh Mainali, who
had previously held this position, was transferred three times
and ended up at the ministry for science and technology.
"Lagattarko saruwa, karmachari sashankit",, 24
December 2008. Kusum is considered to be generally left leaning and the home secretary a plum post, while the ministry for
science and technology is seen as one ofthe least popular postings. Crisis Group telephone interview, journalist, August 2010.
42 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, op. cit, p. 16.
43 For example, the Maoist draft constitution does explicitly not
grant the federal supreme court authority to rule on the consistency of laws with the constitution. "Janatako sanghiya ganatantra nepalko samvidhan 2067", UCPN(M), 29 May 2010,
Article 154(4). Instead, it vests this power in a special judicial
committee underthe federal legislature. Ibid, Article 172(2(a)).
The draft grants the federal legislative and executive "unconditional authority" over the security sector, including the army.
Ibid, Article 247(2). The president is defined as supreme commander; the army's commander-in-chief is appointed by the
president on recommendation of the council of ministers and
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action, armed if need be, as a legitimate means to resist
oppression. This central strand of Maoist thinking appears
to be intact despite the compromises ofthe peace process;
it naturally colours approaches to the state. It also raises
equally genuine fears in other parties that the Maoists are
not willing to accept pluralistic norms or subordinate
themselves to the constitutional and institutional order.
Still, the Maoists are not anarchists. Far from it: they
have warily embraced the state, even if they would like to
rebuild it.44 They believe in authority, and occasionally
indulged their authoritarian streak once in government,
stressing the need for order and discipline.45 They adhere
to the Leninist line that state power is all that really
counts.46 They resent newer movements' disrespect of the
state - although they might respect them if they dared
challenge the state directly.47 In short, the Maoists want to
control the state; they do not want it to wither away or
There has been one major shift in their stance. The peace
has in effect led them to abandon their promise to smash
the state. The Maoists have accepted much ofthe state in
can be removed by the council of ministers in accordance with
the law. Ibid, Article 249.
44 "Look, the army and the courts are still not working to the
government. Obviously a conflict situation is still there. No one
is greater than the state - and this government is now an elected
one with a mandate. Remember it was when Gyanendra pretended he was above the law that he got kicked out". Crisis
Group interview, UCPN(M) district secretary, Lamjung, 24
April 2009.
45For example: "Other parties want instability - they don't
want to let us govern and don't want to let us have any credit".
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
4t'"The proletariatneeds state power, the centralised organisation of force, the organisation of violence, both to crush the resistance ofthe exploiters and to lead the enormous mass ofthe
population - the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie, and semi-
proletarians in the work of organizing socialist economy".
Lenin, State and Revolution, p. 14 (emphasis added). From, which uses the Peking
1976 edition. Also "As long as we are in the minority we carry
on the work of criticising and exposing errors and at the same
time we preach the necessity of transferring the entire state
power to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, so that the people
may overcome their mistakes by experience". Lenin, "The
Tasks ofthe Proletariat in the Present Revolution" (also known
as the "April theses"), published in Pravda on 7 April 1917.
Available at:
04.htm. This is the origin ofthe Bolshevik slogan "All power to
the Soviets!" that was bizarrely rendered into Nepali and used
on banners soon after the April 2006 people' s movement. Crisis
Group interview, 26 April 2010.
47 Crisis Group interviews, Maoist district leaders, January-
February 2010.
its previous incarnation, albeit with certain caveats.48 The
post-ceasefire period changed the state, and the Maoists'
relation to it. Government gradually returned to many rural
areas, with the withdrawal of Maoist parallel bodies and
the re-establishment of police posts. As an assistant CDO
commented, "The Maoists used to be very suspicious of
every administration decision but now they understand
our role and support us. It's a big change".49
Gaining a stake in the state, and government, has reshaped
Maoist behaviour. But the impact has been mixed. For
example, it appears that while the Maoists were in government they returned much more land than when they
were in opposition.50 Atthe same time, however, the YCL
behaved far worse when its parent party was in power.51
Their unexpected electoral success threw up new opportunities to lock the Maoists into pluralist politics but also
sowed confusion.
There was not the immediate, complete transformation
that some had hoped for: 'Yes, the situation is much better than during the conflict but the great hopes we have
hadn't been realised. We hoped that having a Maoist prime
minister would quickly make them behave responsibly -
but in fact the Maoists are still working with threats and
intimidation".52 Nevertheless, the Maoists' orientation
towards the state has probably changed irrevocably: a return
to seeking its elimination is highly unlikely. Contestation
is increasingly taking place within established state structures; even on constitutional issues there remain few fundamental disagreements with other parties.53
Baburam Bhattarai may still have said "we will create havoc"
infront of cadres inButwal in 2009. Suvash Devkota, "Ekdaliya
shashan ko chahana", Himal Khabarpatrika, 20 March 2009.
What is more remarkable is that the Maoists have challenged
and fought other parties but done next to nothing to destabilise
the state since 2006.
49 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009. A senior police officer compared the relatively calm atmosphere in
Rukum and the discipline ofthe Maoist cadres with the unrest
and resistance by ethnic activists he found in his previous deployment in an eastern hill district.
50 The Carter Center notes three periods during which the Maoists returned the most land: right after the CPA, immediately
before the 2008 CA elections and while they led the government.
"Land commitments in Nepal's peace process only partially
fulfilled", op. cit, p. 10.
51 Possibly because of greater opportunities for political protection. On the use of violence by parties see Section III.B.
52Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
53 Federalism is the only fundamental transformation of the
state the Maoists still hold out for, see Section IV.C. 1. On major
shifts in the Maoists' ideology see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, op. cit.
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3.    Form and substance
The Maoists transformed their organisation to match the
requirements of open politics. They increased their presence through new recruitment and expanding their fraternal organisations,54 often taking in individuals they would
earlier have rejected as "feudalists" or "anti-social elements".55 In particular, the Maoist trade unions have been
successful in broadening their base, supported by popular
projects like the campaigns for an increased minimum
wage, the regularisation of employment contracts and the
introduction of a service charge in hotels and restaurants.56 The Maoists now have an organisational presence
and levels of activity unrivalled by other parties.
Despite their expansion, the Maoists maintain a surprising
level of discipline. This is partly explained by the party
retaining and adapting past strengths like the large number of full-time workers for its organisational core. Full-
timer numbers vary greatly, but in many districts reach
into the hundreds.57 The simple conditions under which
these cadres often live indicate their dedication.58
54 For a list of fraternal organisations see Crisis Group Asia
Report N°104, Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure and
Strategy, 27 October 2005, p. 11.
55 For example, in Dang, a local landlord with property near
Ghorahi joined the YCL to bolster his joint case with a
neighbouring landlord (who is with the Rastriya Prajatantra
Party) to have the nearby house of a landless person demolished. The house ofthe latter had been on the contested plot of
public land for the past 34 years. Crisis Group interview, land
rights activist, Ghorahi, 19 February 2010. The Maoists were
desperate to recruit numbers and muscle in urban areas, where
they had little hold during the conflict. A UML youth leader
cited the example of Khalanga in Salyan, where the Maoists
had only recruited a single person during the war. Crisis Group
interviews, Salyan, 20 February 2010; NC leader, Rukum,
February 2010.
56Industrial action by the Maoists' All Nepal Federation of
Trade Unions (ANFTU) likely contributed to the August 2006
raise in the minimum wage. The demand for regularising employment contracts had been raised by other unions before, but
the Maoists appear to press for it more successfully. Robert
Kyloh, From Conflict to Cooperation: Labour Market Reforms
that can Work in Nepal (Geneva, 2008), ch. 5. A 10 per cent
service charge in hotels and restaurants was agreed on in January 2007, with Maoist trade unions, among others, involved in
brokering the deal. "Hoteliers agree to 10% TSC", ekanti-, 1 January 2007. In late 2009, the Maoist-affiliated All
Nepal Hotel Workers' Union secured salary raises for hotel
workers in Kathmandu. "Hotel workers get raise", The Kathmandu Post, 17 December 2009.
57 A journalist estimated the number of YCL whole timers in
Dang at 200. Crisis Group interview, Ghorahi, 19 February
2010. An UML youth leader in Salyan compared the UML's
eight whole timers to the Maoists' 200 to 250. Crisis Group
interview, Salyan, 20 February 2010. Estimates by different
At the same time the Maoists manage to maintain a sense
of purpose and organisational cohesion beyond this inner
circle. They have dramatically expanded the number of
positions within the party and movement; even though
humbly remunerated these grant a sense of importance to
committed cadres. Similarly important are the regular
training and programs held by the party; Maoist cadres
across the country are consistently able to argue the party
line.59 Local leaders of other parties are often painfully
aware ofthe advantage the high level of activity grants to
the Maoists. An NC leader in Rukum commented on the
large number of active, young people in the Maoists and
reflected on the ability of his own party to attract them:
"We do have young people but no work for them; there is
political unemployment, even in Tarun Dal".60
The Maoist capacity for and use of violence has reduced
and changed, but not vanished. The cantonment of the
PLA was a symptom of its already diminished relevance.
Almost simultaneously, the Maoists started establishing
the YCL. Although built on the former "people's militia",
the new organisation differed significantly in set-up and
purpose. It was initially bolstered by PLA commanders
and combatants who never entered the cantonments,61 and
later took in large numbers of young people regardless of
previous affiliation with the party. Different from the PLA,
parties in Bhojpur, including YCL leaders, ofthe whole timers
in the YCL ranged from 120 to 150. Crisis Group interviews,
Bhojpur, January 2010. Numbers are not consistently as high
across districts. Maoist whole timers in Panchthar number between fifteen and twenty. Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M)
district in-charge, Phidim, 3 February 2010.
58 For example, a dozen YCL cadres observed in Banke lived
together in a rented, simple two storey house in a village. They
appeared firmly under the control oftheir female commander.
Crisis Group observation, Phattepur, February 2010.
59 Crisis Group interviews, January-March 2010. "Look at the
Maoists: their whole timers still go from Kailali to Bajhang.
They still have that dedication. And they are clear. They always
know what their line is, their strategy". Crisis Group interview,
human rights activist, Nepalgunj, February 2010.
60 Crisis Group interview, NC leader, Rukum, February 2010. A
Maoist leader put the number of positions in a zonal committee
at 191 and in the corresponding district committees at 500.
'"Maoist can't publicise details of donation'",,
29 April 2010.
61 An NC leader in Rukum claimed the entire YCL in the district
to be former PLA. Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
However, a human rights activist said that local thugs in Musikot
had joined the YCL after the ceasefire. Crisis Group interview,
February 2010. An outlier is Bhojpur, where the YCL deputy
in-charge pointed out that the vast majority of the over 100
YCL whole timers in the district, including himself, had been in
the PLA. Crisis Group interview, January 2010. The district in-
charge recounted how they had brought the former combatants
from a nearby cantonment in three batches before the verification process. Crisis Group interview, January 2010.
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the purpose of the YCL was not to fight the security
forces, but to provide the Maoists with muscle in everyday politics. Organisation and deployment vary widely.
In some areas, YCL cadres live together in rented or captured buildings and are involved in parallel policing.62
But it is difficult to describe the YCL as paramilitary.
Camps still appear to be few and far between and in many
districts YCL cadres are far less organised.63
The Maoist success in appointing loyal cadres to positions in local bodies has brought about new constraints.
It would be hard to convince cadres on lucrative posts to
go back to war. But it also helps secure organisational cohesion. The appointments bind people closer to the party
- which is important where there are real alternatives like
Matrika Yadav's CPN(M) in the eastern and central Tarai.64
Maintaining the whole timer structure has put less strain
on Maoist finances than sometimes argued. It is unlikely
to be a major driver for violent capture of local state resources beyond political appointments; nor for involvement in other criminal practices. Maoist whole timers
usually receive only a small stipend; the costs for food,
lodging and clothes are minimal, since many cadres appear
62 For example, in Phattepur, Banke district, around a dozen
cadres live together and claim to protect villagers from armed
robbers. Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) area in-charge, 28
February 2010. In Dang, the YCL has rented half a bigha
(approx. 8,317 square metres) of land on which some cadres
live. Crisis Group interview, journalist, Dang, February 2010.
There are differing accounts of YCL presence in the capital. An
April 2009 article in Deshantar Saptahik, an NC-affiliated
weekly, citing a Home Ministry report claims there are about
100 YCL camps in Kathmandu valley that house almost 8,000
YCL cadres. "YCL-baare grihako gopya prativedan", Kedar
Subedi, 26 April 2009. Kantipur more recently reported only
28 YCL camps in and around the capital (twenty in Kathmandu, one in Lalitpur and seven in Bhaktapur) and estimates
that around 2,000 YCL cadres live in these camps. "YCL ard-
hasainik samrachanamai", 22 January 2010.
63 For example, despite the over 100 YCL whole timers in Bhojpur (see fn. 67), there are only two VDCs in which some ofthe
cadres live together; in Dhankuta there is strong YCL activity,
but no signs of camps; Maoist leaders in Panchthar claim that
there are over 1000 YCL cadres, but only fifteen of them whole
timers. Crisis Group interviews, January-February 2010.
64 For instance, the Dhanusha in-charge of Matrika's CPN(M)
claimed that many Maoist cadres, including their current district in-charge, had not defected to Matrika because the party
had provided them with positions, for example in hospitals or
the railway administration. Crisis Group interview, Janakpur,
16 October 2009. Matrika Yadav split from the UCPN(M) in
February 2009 and re-formed what he insists is the authentic
continuity ofthe original CPN(M). Crisis Group telephone interview, CPN(M) central leader, June 2010. This report uses
"CPN(M)" not for the Maoists before their merger with the
Unity Centre (Masai) into the UCPN(M) (see fn. 71), but for
Matrika Yadav's party.
to live with their families.65 The Maoists reportedly still
have money from the conflict and their time in government;66 they have access to a wide variety of income
sources: property captured during the conflict provides
local revenue;67 so does access to local budgets.68 Donations are demanded for specific programs.69 The Maoists
have also opened up new legal sources of regular income.70
The merger of CPN(Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), Unity Centre
(Masai) and CPN(Unified) into the Maoists are significant signs oftheir perceived strength and permanence.71
For the three smaller leftist parties attaching themselves
to the party which looks likely to capture the majority of
the left vote only makes sense. Forthe Maoists, it demonstrates their ability to deal pragmatically with ideological
differences and to transcend the tribalism of having fought
the revolution as comrades.
65 Crisis Group interviews, Bhojpur and Banke, January-
February 2010.
66 Crisis Group interview, UML district chairman, Taplejung, 4
February 2010.
67 In Bhojpur, for instance, the Maoists depend on the produce
of land they captured during the conflict; they argue this is why
they are unable to return it. Crisis Group interview, YCL district leader, Bhojpur, January 2010. But overall relatively few
plots had not been returned by January 2010. Crisis Group interview, CDO, January 2010. NC leaders themselves were only
able to point out a handful. Crisis Group interview, January
2010. In Dang, the Maoists have rented out captured land
against a proportion of the harvest. Crisis Group interview,
journalist, Dang, February 2010.
68 Crisis Group interviews, UML district leader, Lamjung, April
2009; UML vice-chairman, Bhojpur, January 2010; NC secretary, Salyan, February 2010.
69 Crisis Group interview, NGO director, Taplejung, February
70 According to a human rights activist in Banke, the Maoists
have used the Voluntary Declaration of Income Scheme
(VDIS), a tax amnesty for previously undeclared income implemented under Maoist Finance Minister Baburam Bhattarai,
to legalise money raised during the conflict, which they now
invest. "They have hospitals in Butwal, Dhangadhi, everywhere", he said, also pointing to a hospital in Nepalgunj itself.
"The Maoists have money, which they now use for buying
houses, land, and so on". Crisis Group interview, Nepalgunj,
February 2010.
71 CPN(M) and CPN(MLM) merged in 2007. "CPN-M, CPN-
MLM to unite today",, 24 September 2007. The
CPN(M) was renamed Unified CPN(M), UCPN(M), after the
January 2009 merger with the Unity Centre (Masai). Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, op. cit, fn. 2.
The CPN(Unified) came into the Maoist fold in April 2010.
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4.    Transforming or transformed?
The transformation ofthe Maoists is a central concern of
other parties. Most want to see the United Communist
Party of Nepal (Maoist), UCPN(M), become a "normal"
political party.72 In essence, this means the Maoists accepting the norms of existing political practice, abandoning their revolutionary goals and irrevocably renouncing
But the question of transformation of the state by the
Maoists is just as critical, if not more so. Despite what
many political party leaders pretend, the peace process
was not meant just to change the Maoists but to transform
the state and political culture. Without the Maoists there
would be no republic, no constituent assembly, no federalism and no hope for fundamental change in Nepal politics.
But have the Maoists reached the end of their transformative agenda?73
More than four years after the peace deal was signed, the
political atmosphere is more polarised than ever. Factions
within the major parties as well as fringe groups are
openly calling for revision of key provisions ofthe peace
process.74 Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari, the Nepalese
On widespread acceptance ofthe Maoists as a political party
see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?,
op. cit, p. 37. According to the 2010 Himalmedia survey, 75.3
per cent say Maoist and YCL behaviour has improved; 24.1 per
cent view them as peaceful like any other party; while 23.7 per
cent think the Maoists still believe in using arms. 67.5 per cent
believe somewhat or strongly that the Maoists have given up
arms and violence for good. "Janata parivartan chahanchhan",
op. cit.
73 This is certainly a question that occupies Maoist activists at
all levels. Many see the post-war developments like the CA and
republic as important achievements and believe that their party
still stands for fundamental transformation. A YCL area in-
charge said: "There's no way we've abandoned the revolution.
We're still struggling for fundamental change. We've achieved
the CA elections and the republic". Crisis Group interview,
YCL leader, Banke, February 2010. But critical undertones also
exist. For example, a Maoist student leader in Salyan spoke
about the need for younger cadres to keep an eye on national
leaders and ensure they keep pursuing a revolutionary agenda.
Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
74 A front page story in an NC-affiliated weekly in March 2010
declared the deadlock between the Maoists and the other parties
impossible to resolve and proposed to reinstate the 1990 constitution to avoid a constitutional vacuum. "47ko samvidhan nai
vikalpa ho", Punarjagaran, 30 March 2010. An article in the
same issue claims a Nepali Times online reader poll, according
to which 62 per cent ofthe respondents think signing the 2005
twelve-point agreement with the Maoists was a mistake, proves
initial doubts about the agreement were correct. "62 pratishat
Army's (NA) most voluble and obedient spokesperson,
has vehemently opposed army integration and defended
fresh army recruitment.75 Maoist leader Mohan Baidya has
consistently called for reviewing the party's current strategy.76 Many doubt the Maoist commitment to open politics.77 Some are thinking aloud about a deliberate return
to violent conflict. Previously discussed privately within
the army and with potential support from Kathmandu
middle and upper classes, political leaders have started
discussing the deployment of the army more openly.78
Both the "Sri Lanka solution" and the "Bangladesh
model" are talked about in the press.79 Prime Minister
Nepal and various ministers have threatened to mobilise
the army against Maoist protests on several occasions.80
janatale bhane girijale maobadisita gareko samjhauta galti
thiyo", ibid. Bishwadip Pande, Baburam Bhattarai's personal
assistant when the twelve-point agreement was negotiated,
criticised opponents ofthe agreement, emphasising that it was
based on a genuine effort by the political leaders involved (and
recounting how he drafted it on his own laptop). "Barahabundeka
virodhi", Nagarik, 7 January 2010.
75 For example, Bhandari publicly challenged Prime Minister
Nepal on integration. "Defence Minister defies PM-led Special
Committee", The Kathmandu Post, 20 January 2010. On army
recruitment: "Defense Minister wants CPA reviewed", Republica, 8 October 2009.
76For example, he continues to criticise the central committee's
October 2005 decision to work towards a people's republic
through multi-party democracy. "Maobadiko antarik dvandva:
almalma shantipurna karyaniti", Mulyangkan, August 2010. On
the October 2005 Chunbang meeting and its importance for the
2005 twelve-point agreement see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, op. cit, p. 5.
77 For example: ParshuramKaphle, "Arko shaktikhor prakaran:
vidrohdvara satta ra senamathi niyantran garna prachandako
nirdeshan", Rajdhani, 8 March 2010. A pro-NC weekly warned
ofthe Maoists preparing to use "napalmbombs" in Kathmandu
during their May 2010 protests. "Nepa bamko prayog garine",
Ghatana ra Bichar, 28 April 2010. On Prachanda as Pol Pot:
Pradip Nepal, "Ekkaisaun shatabdika polpotharu", Naya Patrika, 3 May 2010.
78This was particularly the case in the run-up to the Maoists'
May 2010 protests: "Senaparichalanhunasakchha", interview
with Shankar Pokharel, Drishti, 27 April 2010; Rajendra
Thapa, "Sena parichalan samvaidhanik? Asamvaidhanik?",
Rajdhani, 29 April 2010.
79 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?,
op. cit, p. 16. On calls for the "Bangladesh model" see frontpage "Chahinchha sakaratmak sainik hastakshep!", Punarjagaran, 18 May 2010. Regular calls for army intervention used to
be the preserve ofthe eccentric publisher's note in Spotlight
and the entertainingly loony fringe ofthe right wing, People's
Review - but the spread to Punarjagaran and other mainstream
party-allied publications suggests the depths of despair.
80For example, "Govt tells army to brace itself', The Kathmandu Post, 28 April 2010.
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Continued Maoist and state militarisation is a worrying
reminder that both former belligerents remain prepared
for a possible return to conflict. In addition to the PLA
combatants in the cantonments, those who now form the
core ofthe YCL could easily be transformed into armed
squads. The state is increasing the capacity of its security
forces, especially in areas relevant for counter-insurgency.
Between March and August 2010 the Armed Police Force
(APF) increased its numbers from over 25,000 to over
31,000;81 it has also imported weapons and ammunition
from India.82 The army has resumed infantry recruitment
to remain at its current strength;83 Army Chief Gurung
had earlier been quoted as saying that "strengthening the
NA means preparing it to maintain law and order during
times of conflict".84 The army has also demanded an additional Rs. 118 billion (approx. $1,581 billion) for its
Ten-Year Strategic Plan which includes the purchase of
ten helicopters.85 The NA would not accept structural
changes which it would perceive to undermine its autonomy from the parties.
However, neither the Maoists nor the army are likely to
go back to war easily. The Maoists do not have a reason
to. They are well entrenched in local politics and are likely
to fare well in future elections. The NA may have the
support of some conservative party leaders as well as a
good proportion ofthe Kathmandu elites, but is unlikely
to act without Delhi's nod; and that nod is unlikely to
come except in extremis. Delhi continues to see the Maoists as a security threat. The most likely scenario for India
supporting an army intervention would be severe political
confrontation between out of government Maoists and the
state with a credible possibility that the Maoists might
emerge as the controlling force. The escalation of India's
Naxalite problem has so far not changed Delhi's policy
towards Nepal's Maoists, but real or purported links between them could be used to legitimise intervention.
The Maoists have strong incentives not to go to war and
are unlikely to drive the army to the brink deliberately,
but as long as they are united and not fully demilitarised
there is a limit to how far they can be sidelined without
risking a violent response. As the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, they still believe they have a popular
mandate to lead the government and may rethink their
current strategy once they have exhausted all peaceful
options. They are also likely to respond violently should
their local dominance, and with it the financial viability
oftheir organisation, be challenged.
81 "MoF okays APF recruitment", Republica, 10 March 2010.
Crisis Group interview, APF officer, September 2010.
82"Arms import not against CPA: Rawal", Republica, 21 February 2010. According to Naya Patrika, there have been thirteen imports of either arms or security equipment for the Nepal
Police (NP) and the APF since April 2008, at least three of
them under the Maoist-led government. "Dui varshama 13
patak hatiyar kharid", Naya Patrika, 13 May 2010.
83More than 50,000 candidates applied for the 3,464 infantry
positions for which the NA announced recruitment on 2 August
2010. "57,513 apply for 3,464 NA vacancies", Republica, 9
September 2010.
84 "NA recruitment must continue: Co AS", Republica, 17 February 2010.
85 "Army seeks Rs. 118b for strategic plan", Republica, 11
March 2010.
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Page 13
New militant groups have become more prominent since
the peace deal. Militant ethnic activists and youth wings
of political parties are involved in forceful protests like
strikes, extortion, kidnapping, killings and clashes over
tenders. While a small number of armed groups with an
ethnic agenda operate relatively autonomously, most violence is indirectly sanctioned and sometimes directly
supported by mainstream political parties.
Not all is good in New Nepal, but not all that is bad is
new. Criminal-political links are not a post-conflict phenomenon. Particularly in the Tarai, local leaders and
landlords have long used gangs to control local politics.86
Nationwide, a limited use of violence by political parties
to intimidate opponents, influence elections and capture
public contracts was already "politics as usual" during the
1990s. As an NC leader in a mid-western district said:
"We have all used violence. So has the UML. The UML
were worse than the Maoists in the 1997 local elections:
they wouldn't let me visit any ofthe villages in my constituency".87 A UML youth leader in the same district
confirmed: "during elections everyone uses violence".88
The important question is whether post-2006 political
violence is qualitatively or quantitatively different in a
way which presents risks of new armed conflict.
For traditional elites it is easy to see the loss of deference
and rise of claims by marginalised groups as a negative
process. It is tempting to conflate such societal changes
with weakened public security. But while the two are
connected in some instances, much ofthe worst violence
is committed in struggles involving elites on both sides.
A. The Lie of the Land
The incidence of violence is high, even though evidence
from surveys suggests it may not be rising.89 According to
INSEC, 473 people were killed in 2009, the majority in
the Tarai. While most perpetrators remain unidentified,
organised political groups were responsible for many
deaths. Tarai armed groups killed 25 people, the Maoists
three, the UML's YF and the Tharuhat Autonomous State
Council (TASC) one each. The state remained the biggest
single killer, responsible for 41 deaths.90 The Office of
Frederick Gaige, Regionalism and National Integration in
Nepal (Berkeley, 1979), pp. 145-146.
87 Crisis Group interview. NC district secretary, Salyan, February 2010.
88 Crisis Group interview, DNYF leader, Salyan, 20 February
89 See below, Section IV. A.
the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) collected 57 credible allegations of extrajudicial killings by the state from January 2008 to June
There is huge regional and local variation in the types of
insecurity. Armed group and mafia violence, for example,
is rampant in the eastern and central Tarai; it has seen the
worst post-ceasefire violence and continues to witness
more killings, extortion cases and abductions for ransom
than any other region.92 Disruptive ethnic activism is
more prevalent in the western Tarai and the eastern hills.
Party clashes flared up around student elections across the
country, but largely in urban areas and district headquarters where there are higher education institutions. Bandas
(strikes) and chakka jams (bans on vehicle traffic) have
greatest impact on those travelling or living along highways;93 only if they are extended do knock-on effects like
supply shortages affect wider swathes ofthe population.
Assessing what this violence means forthe peace process
is difficult. Ifthe unexpectedness ofthe Maoists' rise
from a small fringe group to a central political player is
any indication, then any ofthe more than 100 supposedly
armed groups could be a potential conflict risk. Many
base their claim to political relevance on precisely this.
But the comparison with the Maoists does not hold up.
The aims and strategies of most new groups are fundamentally different; so are the expectations oftheir cadres,
whose reaction to escalating violence is uncertain.
1.    Emerging prominent actors
Political party youth wings. After 2006, several parties
expanded their youth organisations and equipped them
with a more militant outlook.94 YCL and YF are now the
"Investigating allegations of extra-judicial killings in the Tarai", OHCHR Nepal, July 2010.
92In 2007, 297 out of 545 killings (54.5 per cent) and 521 out
of 1,007 abductions (51.7 per cent) took place in the twelve Tarai districts from Chitwan to Jhapa. In 2008, the same region
witnessed 282 of 541 killings (52.1 per cent) and 368 of 729
abductions (50.5 percent). In2009,213 of 473 killings (45 per
cent) and 158 of 281 abductions (56.2 per cent) took place in
the twelve districts. "Nepal human rights yearbook 2008", INSEC, February 2008; "Nepal human rights yearbook 2009",
INSEC, February 2009; and "Nepal human rights yearbook
2010", INSEC, February 2010.
93Bandas take different forms varying in intensity and scope,
from the less restrictive chakka jam, which bans the use of
vehicles, via local or regional bandas, which ban vehicle
movement and close businesses locally, to the Nepal banda, the
nationwide shutdown. For a further discussion of bandas, see
Section III.B.4.
94The UML's YF and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum's (MJF)
Madhesi Volunteers (now Young Madhesi Forum), responded
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Page 14
most active youth wings. They emerged as the main perpetrators as well as main victims in clashes related to the
Constituent Assembly (CA) elections in 2008 and the by-
elections in 2009.95 Political violence is not confined to
electoral competition; a significant proportion results from
conflicts over state resources, such as public contracts.96
In other cases party interests are less obvious. Many
clashes between youth wings originate in personal disputes and become institutionalised subsequently.97
Tarai armed groups. Much ofthe violence in the Tarai
is committed in the name of Tarai armed groups; but almost none of it follows an overarching political agenda.
Only a handful of groups were active at the time of the
first Madhesi movement in 2007, most notably Jai
Krishna Goit's Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha (JTMM)
and a breakaway JTMM faction led by Jwala Singh.98 By
to the threat perceived to be emanating from the Maoists' YCL.
The NC has long discussed forming a militant youth organisation called Tarun Dasta. But intra-party controversy over these
plans is considerable. "Tarun Dasta against NC principle:
Koirala",, 11 June 2010; "Cong at variance over
new squad", The Kathmandu Post, 13 June 2010. An NC district leader said: "We are opposed to the idea of Tarun Dasta. It
may have immediate benefits, but it's destructive. It might set
an example for others". Crisis Group interview, Dhankuta,
January 2010. Most youth wings claim to provide public security, and there are reports crediting them with fulfilling this
purpose. For example: "Nepal at a crossroads: the nexus
between human security and renewed conflict in rural Nepal",
International Alert, October 2007; "YCL to help authorities nab
crooks", The Himalayan Times, 9 March 2010. Parallel policing is sometimes approved of by local residents. However,
most activities of such groups, including violence, fulfil immediate party objectives.
95 According to the Democratic and Election Alliance Nepal
(DEAN), political parties were directly responsible for 64 per
cent ofthe violence leading up to the 2008 CA elections. Out of
this proportion, the Maoists and YCL perpetrated 59 per cent.
The UML was responsible for 18 per cent. With 67 per cent of
the victims, the parties also bore the brunt ofthe violence. Of
this proportion, the NC suffered the most (31 per cent), closely
followed by the UML's cadres (30 per cent), and then the
CPN(M) and YCL (20 per cent). See "Constituent Assembly
Election Observation: Final Report", DEAN, 10 April 2008.
Before the April 2009 by-elections, UN OCHA reported
clashes between YCL and YF in two districts where by-
elections were held. "OCHA Nepal Situation Overview", UN
OCHA, 16 April 2009.
96 The youth wings, especially YCL and YF, are involved in
"capturing" tenders. Clashes over tenders are frequent, but often
different parties and contractors settle commissions and their
distribution peacefully. See Sections III.B.2 and III.B.3.
97 See Section III.B.3.
98 On the background ofthe early Tarai armed groups see Crisis
Group Asia Report N°136, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, 9
July 2007.
now there are dozens of groups, frequently merging and
splintering and therefore nearly impossible to track.99
Eastern hills. Ethnic activism in the eastern hills, demanding autonomous Kirat, Khambuwan and Limbuwan
federal states, is becoming increasingly many-voiced. The
most active Limbuwan groups are the different factions of
the Federal Limbuwan State Council (FLSC).100 The most
Many district leaders and cadres have left and either formed
their own outfits or carry on working without the political coat.
"There are new groups appearing daily, like the 'Ranabir Dal'
and 'Rajan Samuha'. It's easy for four or five people to get a
pistol, kill someone and then set themselves up as a 'group'".
Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009. Some early
leaders like Goit, and to a lesser extent Jwala Singh, are still
important. But organisational links between them and their
cadre are often tenuous. Reports of efforts to counteract frac-
tionalisation through mergers are often contradictory, possibly
reflecting fickle alliances, lack of cohesion and unclear leadership structures. There appears to have been a serious attempt to
merge thirteen factions into the Samyukta Tarai Mukti Morcha
(STMM) under Goit, not including Jwala Singh but reportedly
taking in many of his cadres. Crisis Group interview, armed
group sympathiser, Kathmandu, February 2010. Up to now no
political activities have been attributed to the STMM and given
the organisational weakness of the groups comprising it, it is
unclear whether real unity in action could follow.
100There are currently three FLSCs: one led by Sanjuhang
Palungwa, FSLC(P), one by Kumar Lingden, FLSC(L), and
one by Misek Hang, FSLC(Revolutionary). They are most active in Jhapa, Ham, Panchthar and Taplejung, where they carry
out disruptive strikes and tax the transport sector, especially the
lucrative cardamom trade (up to Rs. 60,000 (approx. $790) per
truck). Crisis Group interviews, Panchthar, August 2009 and
February 2010. All three have youth wings called Limbuwan
Volunteers, which are involved in extortion and hire out muscle
for local disputes, particularly in Jhapa. Crisis Group interviews, Jhapa, September 2009. While FLSC(P) and FLSC(R)
operate outside the parliamentary system, the FLSC(L) contested the CA elections under the umbrella of the Federal
Democratic National Forum (FDNF). At the same time,
FLSC(P) cadres insist that they represent the establishment side
ofthe Limbuwan movement. Crisis Group interview, FLSC(P)
cadres, Jhapa, February 2010. All three FLSCs have gradually
moved away from militant rhetoric and towards an increasingly
accommodative line stressing ethnic harmony. Their leaders
insist that an autonomous Limbuwan would grant the same
rights to all ethnic groups. Crisis Group interviews, Jhapa,
Panchthar, Taplejung, September 2009-February 2010. Some
non-Limbu have joined the Limbuwan movement; the secretary
ofthe Central Executive Committee ofthe FSLC(P) is a Magar.
Crisis Group interview, FLSC(P) cadres, Jhapa, February 2010.
The inclusive approach may have pragmatic reasons. A human
rights activist in Jhapa said: "The attitude of the Limbuwan
cadres changed with the first protests. Their demand for Limbuwan was made inclusive, as they realised that they need the
help of members of other communities. Non-Limbu hooligans
have joined them as well". Crisis Group interview, September
2009. There have been recent efforts to work jointly under a
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Page 15
militant movement in the eastern hills is the Kirat Jana-
badi Workers Party (KJWP), which similarly has split
into at least three factions.101
Tharu mobilisation. Alienated by the Madhesi movement, formerly disparate Tharu organisations started
jointly mobilising for a Tharuhat province in the central
and western Tarai in 2008.102 The most militant Tharu organisation in rhetoric is Laxman Tharu's TASC;103 but
United Limbuwan Front (ULF), to which the Limbu wings of
all major parties signed up. See a letter circulated to the district
offices of all ULF member organisations and directing them to
organise protests to demand an autonomous Limbuwan state:
"Jana pradarsan karyakramharu ayojana game sambandhama",
ULF, 26 January 2010.
101 The KJWP had taken on the security forces directly in isolated incidents in 2008 and has a small number of firearms. But
its focus appears to be extortion of businessmen and VDC secretaries as well as the collection of vehicle taxes. Although
KJWP donation letters have appeared across the eastern hills
and Tarai, they have real impact only in Khotang and Udaypur.
Crisis Group interviews, Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Sunsari, January-
February 2010. The KJWP had had a small presence in Bhojpur, but was chased out by the Maoists. See Section III.C. In
2009 the KJWP split into one group led by Rabin Kirati and
one led by Binod Rai (nom-de-guerre: Biswas Bidrohi). The rift
seems to have occurred over the distribution of party funds.
Crisis Group interview, human rights activist, Jhapa, September
2009. A second split occurred when Ananta Kranti, the brother
of Binod Rai, set up the Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha. Crisis
Group interview, Kathmandu, July 2010. The KJWP led by Binod Rai, which had emerged as the most active faction, appears
weakened after recent arrests. An attack on a police post in
Khotang in May 2010, possibly to press for the release of a
leader, was followed by the arrest of more than two dozen cadres including senior leaders. "Big KJWP fish in net", The
Kathmandu Post, 7 June 2010; "Cops nab 20 KJWP men", The
Kathmandu Post, 9 June 2010.
102 The "one Madhes - one Province" demand had long been a
point of contention. The cabinet decision to include the Tharus
under the Madhesi category for a civil-service quota system
promulgated in 2009 prompted protests which were predominantly organised by an umbrella-organisation, the Joint Tharu
Struggle Committee (JTSC).
103 TASC is the biggest organisation within the JTSC. It announced the formation of parallel government structures and a
Tharuhat Liberation Army in November 2008. The accounts of
TASC leaders differ as to whether this volunteer force has already
been formed, but they insist that its primary purpose is self defence. Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu and Banke, July
2010. Notably the Tharu Kalyankari Sabha (TKS), elite-
dominated and traditionally close to the Kathmandu establishment, has been working more closely with TASC. Although
there is no formal association, some Tharu activists are members of both organisations, including TASC president Yogendra
Tharu who also contested the 2008 CA elections for the Federal
Democratic National Front (FDNF). Crisis Group interview,
TASC leader, Kathmandu, July 2010.
there has been little militant action.104 Bandas called in
2009 were successfully enforced - the indefinite shutdown called in April lasted more than ten days. But after
May 2009, protests have come to all but a standstill.105
The movement is likely to wait for an issue with sufficient public appeal; it also still appears weakened after
disagreement over Laxman Tharu's short-lived alliance
with the MJF in February 2010.106
Matrika Yadav's CPN(M). Matrika Yadav founded the
CPN(M) in February 2009 after the formation of the
UCPN(M), accusing the party's leadership of having
abandoned its revolutionary agenda.107 Many Maoist district leaders view Matrika and those who joined him as
misguided, but ultimately pursuing the same goals.108
Some security officials take the CPN(M) seriously and
expect future trouble from its side.109
2.    Learning from the Maoists?
Many believe the Maoists' success has encouraged the
proliferation of armed groups claiming to struggle for an
ethnic agenda. "They're following the Maoists", said a
police officer about the armed groups, "they also killed
and looted but are now in government".110 A similar argument is made about PLA integration. There are concerns that it would set a precedent which other groups
Apart from several incidents in 2009 in which Tharuhat cadres destroyed VDC offices and collected government taxes for
natural resource extraction.
105 Crisis Group interviews, Dang, Banke, Kailali, February
2010. One exception was a TASC-called banda in April 2010
after three cadres had been beaten up by cadres ofthe Madhesi
Janadhikar Forum (Loktantrik), MJF(L). "Tharuhat calls transport strike in Dang, vehicles vandalised",, 23
April 2010.
106 Crisis Group interview, Carter Center employee, Kathmandu, 26 March 2010.
107 "Matrika Yadav to announce 'restructured CPN-Maoist'
Wednesday",, 10 February 2009. Since then
the CPN(M) re-captured land returned by the Maoists in the
Tarai, and blockaded government offices accused of financial
irregularities. "Matrika locks DDC", Republica, 1 May 2009.
CPN(M) cadres have also extorted VDC secretaries in the eastern Tarai and hills. "Matrika's group in extortion drive", Republica, 16 March 2010.
108 Crisis Group interviews, UCPN(M) district leaders,
Dhankuta, Janakpur, January-February 2010. Confrontations
with cadres of the UCPN(M) are rare. One exception was a
clash in Biratnagar in the run up to the by-elections in April
2009. "Situation turning to normalcy in Biratnagar after shootout",, 9 April 2009. More recently in
Syangja: "Six injured in YCL attack", The Kathmandu Post, 7
April 2010.
109 Crisis Group interview, police officer, Dhangadhi, 25 February 2010.
110 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
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could use to press for their armed wings to be integrated.
Current armed groups are also often seen as a continuation ofthe Maoist struggle, enabled by former Maoist cadres who have joined new groups or set up their own. The
same officer said: "the Maoists have taught people how to
take up arms - and some of these are former Maoists".111
Many ofthe new groups liken themselves to the Maoists,
copying much of their language, rituals and imagery.
Some claim to have an armed wing and most threaten
violence should their demands not be fulfilled.112 Many
boast of elaborate organisational structures with units at
the village, district and central level. Some have proclaimed
parallel government structures seemingly akin to the
Maoists' "people's governments".113 The self description
of some as being "underground" implies fundamental opposition to the state.
These self portrayals grossly misrepresent both actual capacities and strategies. There is violence, and there is
logic to most of it, but it is not the same as the Maoists'.
None ofthe new groups, apart from Matrika Yadav-led
CPN(M), has transformative aims even remotely as comprehensive as those ofthe Maoists. There is no evidence
to suggest any of them plans to take on the state in the
way the Maoists did in 1995-1996 or would be able to.
Some groups have conducted public rallies with uniformed
and armed cadres, but with no more than a handful of
firearms on display. The Maoists may famously have
started their "people's war" with only one functioning rifle,
but they had also spent years building organisational
strength and a popular base in Rolpa and Rukum. They
see the violence of new groups as fundamentally different
from their own and illegitimate for not targeting the state.
One Maoist commented on militant Kirat groups in the
eastern hills: "They have some weapons, but they are not
using them against the state. They are using them against
the people".114
To the extent that there is a political aim to violence or
threats of violence, it is to negotiate a fairly limited agenda.
The vast majority ofthe new groups focus on the creation
111 Ibid.
112 The Tarai armed groups presented themselves as a military
force from the start. The KJWP has made it a point to display
small numbers of uniformed cadres and firearms throughout
2009. "Kirat outfit's press meet at gunpoint", The Himalayan
Times, 28 August 2009. FLSC(R) leaders say they are unarmed
now, but claim to be ready for war if their demand for an autonomous Limbuwan is not fulfilled. Crisis Group interview,
August 2009.
113On the Maoists' "people's government" see Crisis Group
Reports, Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure and Strategy,
op. cit; Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?, op. cit, p. 13.
114 Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district secretary, Jhapa,
10 February 2010.
of a federal state along ethnic lines. In many cases this
goal does not guide action but is proclaimed to legitimise
it and offer a degree of protection from the administration. But most ofthe violence is simply criminal. Kidnappings, killings and bombings carried out by Tarai
armed groups and the KJWP in the eastern hills serve to
create terror and prepare the ground for extortion.115
Practical experience in guerrilla warfare is limited to few
leaders. Only a minority ofthe new groups have been set
up by Maoist defectors.116 And with the exception of
Matrika's CPN(M), none of them has seen a large influx
of Maoist cadres. Occasional reports about defections of
Maoist combatants mostly originate with the groups they
are supposed to have joined, and could not be independently verified.117 Many leaders and cadres in the Tharu
movement as well as ethno-political groups in the eastern
hills come from party backgrounds other than the Maoists, in particular NC and UML.118
The new groups are not so much replicas as by-products
ofthe Maoist insurgency. The former rebels did justify
their own violence with their agenda of ethnic justice and
class struggle and have thereby helped legitimise the political violence of others.119 They have also set an example
of an insurgent group entering government. Despite superficial if deliberate similarities the new groups pursue different aims with different methods and capacities.
3.    Recruitment, risks and results
Beyond similar self-presentation lie vastly differing organisational structures and recruitment patterns. The
overall very limited attempts to build popular support and
"They started first killing businessmen and government officials [....] Their main objective was to terrorise the people, to
set an example. Then they started abducting and extorting".
Crisis Group interview, human rights activist, Dhanusha, 15
October 2009.
116But some ofthe most important ones were founded by former Maoists. These include the JTMMs led by J.K. Goit and
Jwala Singh, the KJWP, the TASC and Matrika Yadav's
117 "Combatants join Limbuwan", People's Review, 5 August
118 Crisis Group interview, FLSC(L) cadres, Phidim, 2 February
2010. All three cadres interviewed had quit either the NC or
UML to join the FLSC. According to one, his father had joined
the Limbuwan cause after a long career as local NC leader. In
the Tharu movement, TJSC chairman Yogendra Chaudhary had
previously been with the NC. Crisis Group interview, TJSC
leaders, Kathmandu, June 2010.
119Pramod Mishra makes the argument persuasively: "Banda,
violence and grocery", The Kathmandu Post, 10 March 2010.
On the Maoists' legitimisation oftheir own violence see also
Crisis Group Report, Nepal: Peace and Justice, op. cit, p. 11.
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Page 17
organisational bases are instructive.120 Many ofthe new
groups have a small core of dedicated cadres, but have
tried to increase their numbers by taking in opportunists
less interested in the cause than in the perks. Involvement
in illegal but lucrative activities has become more important as a result. This has jeopardised claims for genuine
political agendas and with it wider public support. It also
means that the new groups' capacity to escalate conflict
for political goals is limited. Unlike individuals who
joined the Maoists immediately before or during the civil
war, those who join party youth wings or armed groups
now sign up under low risk conditions; their reaction in
case of violent confrontation with the state is uncertain.121
The YCL, as discussed, has bolstered its numbers with
opportunistic newcomers, particularly in district headquarters with little Maoist presence before 2009.122 The
same applies to the YF. In its attempt to increase the size
of its youth wing, the UML has engaged with individuals
with a record of criminal and violent activities, often
gundas173 who were affiliated with the party less formally
Extortion and illegal taxation have also attracted opportunists, including some former YCL cadres, to various
Kirati groups, including those with a serious political
Tarai armed groups do not appear to hold public programs
beyond rare press conferences or displays of small numbers of
armed cadres. The same is true for the KJWP in the eastern
hills. Other Kirati groups make more efforts. For example the
FLSC(L) has held rallies and conventions which it claims in
press releases have been attended by thousands of supporters.
"Birtamod, Jhapama Limbuwanko vishal amshabha", FDNF
mass email, 11 December 2009. A press release signed by
Kumar Lingden announced simultaneous rallies in Birtamod,
Damak, Dharan and Dhankuta for 28 January 2010. Press release, FLSC(L), 26 January 2010. Available at: http://groups.'bb8ad600
cda5135b. The TASC claims to conduct an awareness campaign in villages in the mid- and far-western Tarai. Crisis
Group interview, TASC district leader, Banke, 15 July 2010.
121 On the importance of initial recruitment patterns for the subsequent development of insurgent organisations see Jeremy M.
Weinstein, Inside Rebellion (New York, 2007); pp. 301-305
deal with Nepal's Maoists.
122 Crisis Group interview, DNYF leader, Salyan, 20 February
2010; human rights activist, Rukum, 21 February 2010.
123 The term gunda applies to criminal figures with political
connections and a reputation for violence, who support politicians as violent enforcers and receive political protection in return, often for independent semi-legal or illegal enterprises. As
private enforcers, the role of gundas, even if illegal, is a public
one. The capital of gundas lies in their reputation; one does not
become a gunda by calling oneself one, but by being recognised as one by others.
agenda.124 This is true for FLSC(L), FLSC(P) and Khambuwan Rastriya Morcha, although at their core they consist
of dedicated and politically motivated cadres and their
cause resonates widely among Rais and Limbus, including among established elites.125 The KJWP, in contrast, is
generally regarded as a criminal outfit and appears to enjoy
little public support. The group originally split from the
Maoist-affiliated Kirat Rastriya Morcha (KRM), but has
retained hardly any ofthe original members.126 In Bhojpur, the two main KJWP cadres were described as apolitical criminals; their eviction by the YCL was welcomed
by many, including other Kirat activists who were concerned that KJWP extortion would jeopardise their own
Tarai armed groups differ fundamentally from other
groups in their allegiance to rural elites. Although the top
leadership ofthe original groups mostly consists of highly
educated individuals with a clear political agenda,127 many
leaders in the districts come from pre-existing criminal
For example, the Limbuwan Volunteers who tax vehicles in
Panchthar, Ham and Jhapa consist of young men who worked
for the YCL in the same capacity until the Maoists stopped the
illegal taxation. Crisis Group interview, journalist, Jhapa, February 2010. A resident of a settlement near Birtamod, where
there had been clashes with Limbuwan activists, said: "Extortion by the Lingden group is still going on. These demands are
not for the Limbus. The problem are the hooligans. They are in
the movement from many castes. They need money for drinking and lavish lifestyles". Crisis Group interview, Charpani, 4
September 2009.
125 Crisis Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010. Ethnic resistance is not a recent phenomenon in the eastern hills. In the first
half of the twentieth century, Limbu movements combined resistance against the alienation of communally held kipat land
with a strong rhetoric against recent Hindu immigrants. Threats
of violent uprisings resulted in several reversals of land legislation. Rex Jones, "Sanskritization in Eastern Nepal", Ethnology,
1976, vol. 15; Lionel Caplan, Land and Social Change in East
Nepal: A Study of Hindu-Tribal Relations (London, 1970). Organised Limbu ethnic movements virtually vanished during the
Panchayat years but ethnic sentiments linked to economic
grievances persisted especially among poorer farmers. Lionel
Caplan, "From Tribe to Peasant? The Limbus and the Nepalese
State", Journal of Peasant Studies, 1991, vol. 18, no. 2.
126 Crisis Group interview, human rights activist, Jhapa, 3 September 2009. The split occurred when KRM leader Gopal
Khambu merged the group with the CPN(M) in 2007 and subsequently became a Maoist CA member and minister for culture and state restructuring in the Maoist-led government. The
KRM had several predecessors, the earliest of which was Gopal
Khambu's Khambuwan Rastriya Morcha. It was founded in the
early 1990s but remained a fringe group until Khambu announced his support for the Maoists in 1997. Dambar K.
Shrestha, "Ethnic Autonomy in the East", in People in the
People's War' (Kathmandu, 2004).
127 On the background of Goit and Singh see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, op. cit, p. 9.
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groups closely tied to local political leaders and landlords. They may have a genuine interest in the Madhesi
movement, but need to prioritise obligations to their local
patrons, to whom they often have close family ties and
who remain their main source of protection.128
The varied backgrounds and mixed loyalties of their
members have encouraged the fractionalisation and de-
politicisation ofthe Tarai armed groups. Organisational
links between district and central leaders are generally
weak. In most cases they are limited to local cadres using
senior leaders' names to generate fear, and sometimes
passing on a percentage oftheir income in return.129 A
new class of armed group leaders seems to have emerged
when low ranking cadres started operating independently.
Most foot soldiers, often from lower caste backgrounds,
participated primarily for material incentives and were only
loosely affiliated to begin with.130 Some local observers
speak about a democratisation of crime, which they say
used to be organised by members of Tarai middle castes.131
Tarai armed group leaders enjoy considerable legitimacy
in those villages in which they act as patrons.132 But their
criminal activities and the fact that they target Madhesis
as much as hill-origin pahadis has cost them wider sympathies.133 Only a handful of senior leaders including Goit
and Jwala Singh are still widely seen as political. Sympathisers admit that the local loyalties of many groups operating in the districts have harmed the movement.134 Spates
of extrajudicial killings have made joining or forming an
armed group a much less attractive option.135
The Tharu movement generated a lot of noise during 2009.
Blockading the east-west highway is relatively easy and
can effectively disrupt travel and trade in essential goods
across the country.136 Geographical advantage means that
Tharu mobilisation like other Tarai agitation can always
have a disproportionate impact. But the extent of public
support is uncertain. Unlike ethnic activists in the eastern
hills and more so in the eastern and central Tarai, Tharu
activists in the west come up against strong Maoist organisational structures and widespread public support for
them.137 The effectiveness of Tarai bandas for getting
attention nevertheless limits incentives for Tharu groups
to resort to more violent tactics.
Matrika Yadav's CPN(M) is exceptional both in terms of
recruitment base and public legitimacy. Matrika himself
is widely regarded as unpredictable, but also principled
and incorruptible.138 His promise to continue revolutionary politics attracts committed Maoist cadres disappointed
by the UCPN(M)'s course of accommodation. As a result
the CPN(M) managed to built up its organisational capacity consistently if slowly over the last year. It is strongest
in the eastern and central Tarai, has some presence in the
western Tarai and is starting to organise in the eastern
hills.139 Matrika is adamant that his is not a regional party,
Crisis Group interviews, Sunsari, July 2008; Saptari, 9 February 2010.
129 Crisis Group interview, police officer, Janakpur, 10 February
130 Abductions, for example, sometimes work on a commission
basis, which grants up to 50 per cent ofthe ransom to the individual cadres perpetrating it. Crisis Group interview, armed
group member, Sunsari, July 2008.
131 Crisis Group interview, Lahan, 9 February 2010.
132 For example, Abinash Mukti, who was killed by fellow villagers on 20 July 2009, and Akash Tyagi, shot dead by the police
on 21 July 2009, are revered as heroes by many in their home
village of Lakshmipur in Dhanusha, where residents have
started constructing a memorial for them on the Janakpur-
Dhalkebar road. Crisis Group interviews, Lakshmipur, 10 February 2010.
133 Crisis Group interviews, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, October
2009. A Madhesi Mukti Tigers leader said: "When we were
underground, when donations were collected, cadres increasingly used them for their personal things". Crisis Group interview, September 2009. A former district leader of Goit was
pessimistic about a possible re-politicisation of armed groups:
"Their approach will remain criminal. I observed it since the
Goit period. They are talking Madhes, Madhes but asking
money, money". Crisis Group interview, September 2009.
134 They also insist that those groups will be excluded from efforts to unify the movement. Crisis Group interview, armed
group sympathiser, Kathmandu, February 2010.
Crisis Group interviews, Sunsari, Lakshmipur, September
136 A strike called by TJSC on 22 April 2009 lasted thirteen
days, crippled transport across the Tarai and led to the increase
of prices for basic commodities in Kathmandu.
137 The TKS has always been rather elite driven and the TASC
so far seems to have failed to establish strong organisational
capacity. Its ability to assert itself on the ground appears limited. For example, TASC cadres were unable to resist when the
YCL blocked it from collecting taxes on natural resources.
Crisis Group interview, Carter Center employee, Kathmandu,
26 March 2010.
138 Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district leader, Janakpur,
February 2010.
139 Crisis Group interviews, Siraha, October 2009. A UCPN(M)
leader in Morang described the CPN(M) as strong. Crisis
Group interview, February 2010. The CPN(M) office in Janakpur appeared well staffed. Crisis Group observation, October
2009. Their team in Dhankuta appears relatively small, at ten to
fifteen cadres, but includes several former PLA combatants.
Crisis Group interview, journalists Dhankuta, January 2010.
The district leader is a former PLA commander. Crisis Group
interview, CPN(M) district leader and central committee member, Dhankuta, February 2010. An organisation building team
ofthe CPN(M) had visited both Dhankuta and Bhojpur. Crisis
Group interview. But different from Dhankuta only individuals
seem to havejoinedinBhojpurandno organisational structures
were built. Crisis Group interview, senior police officer, January 2010.
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Page 19
but there are doubts whether his Madhesi background will
allow him to expand into the hills.140 In the Tarai itself,
caste politics may get in his way, as many of his cadres
and leadership are Yadavs. Senior CPN(M) leaders insist
that no armed uprising is planned;141 but district leaders
may have different aspirations and some of them sound
more militant.142
B. Order in Chaos
Post-2006 political violence to a large extent operates
within existing political paradigms. The prevalence of
bandas, extortion and clashes over tenders and other resources is indicative of weak rule of law, but not of anarchy. Instead, current insecurity is structured by informal
relations between political parties, security forces, armed
groups, criminals and youth wings. The result is impunity.
The close connection of violence with established political forces makes a short-term escalation of violence
unlikely. But the institutionalisation of the criminal-
political nexus bears significant mid-term risks and makes
the patterns that are being consolidated much harder to
Political parties are directly responsible for some ofthe
current insecurity. Members of political parties or their
sister organisations committed at least four killings and
more than half (750) out of 1,327 beatings recorded by
INSEC in 2009.143 Much of this violence is rooted in
competition over state and criminal resources which drive
patronage networks; some of it is about political space in
more general terms. Often, personal and party objectives
are indistinguishable. The parties encourage and enable
other violence, as they protect gangs and armed groups
who pursue their own agendas but also lend muscle to the
parties when needed.
The Maoists are not the only ones to use violence. Just
two days after their student activists had chopped off the
fingers of a UML student leader in Kathmandu, and on
the day that a UML activist attacked by their cadres in
Banke died, the NC called, with no apparent sense of
irony, forthe Maoists to renounce the use of violence as a
precondition for forming a national unity government.144
Crisis Group interview, analyst, Biratnagar, February 2010.
141 Crisis Group interview, CPN(M) central committee member,
Golbazaar, October 2009.
142 Crisis Group interview, CPN(M) district leader and central
committee member, Dhankuta, January 2010. See also "Yadav-
led faction to launch 'people's war'",, 6 October 2009.
143"Nepal human rights yearbook 2010", INSEC, February
144 Cadres of the NC student wing Nepal Student Union (NSU)
attacked a leader of UML's All Nepal National Free Student
Union (ANNFSU) with khukuries at Tri-Chandra Campus in
Most of the press conveniently avoided reporting the
death ofthe UML activist.145
1.    Parties, patronage and the uses of violence
Neither the use of violence in politics nor the protection
of criminal activities by politicians is new. Throughout
the Panchayat era of non-party government centred on the
palace and particularly from the 1980 referendum onwards, the government mobilised youth gangs to suppress
the democratic opposition.146 After the 1990 transition,
political parties drew on these established networks and
used gundas systematically in elections. In the eastern
Tarai, bandit gangs had long helped to enforce the authority of local political leaders and easily slipped into the
same role.147 Informal but party controlled violence came
to underlie not only electoral competition but also the
capture of local state resources.
The form of democratic competition that emerged in
Nepal after 1990 fundamentally rests on the informal distribution of state resources through political patronage
networks.148 The NC had solidified its power base while
Kathmandu in April 2010. After NSU leader and Tri-Chandra
Free Student Union Vice-President Bishnu Poudel was charged
with the attack and arrested, NSU cadres demonstrated outside
government colleges in Kathmandu. Suryaprasad Pande, "Pra-
hariranevisanghkavidyarthibichjhadap",^««apMr«aPo5/, 23
April 2010. When their demands were not met, some demonstrations turned violent; NSU cadres torched six government
vehicles and injured a police officer. Pratima Baskota, "Ne-
visanghdvara sarkari gadi todphod", Kantipur, 27 April 2010.
145 The Kathmandu Post ran an inside-page mention under the
bland headline "UML cadre dies", 15 April 2010. Its sister
paper, Kantipur, offered more detail and a photograph of the
victim, but on page 8. "Kangressanga jhadapma ghaite emale
karyakartako mrityu", Kantipur, 15 April 2010.
146 These gangs were often called mandates and were also used
in Panchayat politics in general. The name originates with the
Panchayat student wing Rashtravadi Swatantra Vidhyarthi
Mandal (RSVM), who the Panchayat government had used to
violently counter anti-Panchayat student protests in 1979. The
RVSM was banned later in 1979. But the term mandates continued to be applied to Panchayat-affiliated gangs or youth
groups, even though many of them were recruited from local
sports clubs, or, particularly in the capital, from martial arts
clubs with links to the Panchayat Sports Council.
147 Crisis Group interview, Saptari, 9 February 2010.
148 Political scientist Krishna Hachhethu describes the emerging
relationship between parties and affluent local power-brokers
as a "market-exchange system - 'votes for favours' and 'favours for votes'". "NepaliPolitics: People-Parties Interface", in
David Gellner (ed.), Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences (New Delhi, 2003), p. 154. "Politics did not become
a positive-sum but a zero-sum context, thereby transforming
them [sic] into a war game carried on in accordance with the
parliamentary majoritarian rule of 'winner takes all'. The electoral process became a means of state capture rather than a
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 20
in government for most ofthe post-1990 period, through
distributing local positions, establishing close relationships with contractors and consolidating its longstanding
networks in the police. The UML had consolidated its
grip on the NGO sector and thereby had some control
over, and access to, much ofthe funding flowing into development from outside government. State capture is both
self serving and supports patronage networks at all levels.
Political parties view it as a given; among senior party
leaders there is a pronounced sense of entitlement.149 Informal patronage is also spurred by public demand.150 In a
self-enforcing cycle of politicisation of the administration, people often look to parties, rather than the state, to
provide services directly or to pressure the administration
to do so.151
Much ofthe contestation over resources takes place in regional and district headquarters as well as VDCs;152 this is
means to good governance". Dhruba Kumar, "Obstacles to Local Leadership and Democracy", in David Gellner and Krishna
Hachhethu (eds.), Local Democracy in South Asia (New Delhi,
2008), p. 28.
149 "What would a fish do if not drink water?" was the response
of Nepal' s former Education Minister Ram Chandra Kushwaha
to corruption charges made against him by the Public Accounts
Committee (PAC). "Relief teacher quotas for current FY annulled", Republica, 24 February 2010. Kushwaha was later
forced to step down over the charges. It comes as no surprise
that a long list of influential personalities, including the president, the prime minister and Maoist leader Prachanda, publicly
backed Unity Life Insurance. "Rashtrapati, pradhanmantri ra
vipakshi neta nai yunitika samrakshak", Naya Patrika, 19 May
2010. Unity ran a pyramid scheme which lured more than half a
million clients into investing more thanRs. 6 billion (more than
$78 million). Along with the promises of lucrative returns on
investments, the company offered an "assurance plan" which
covered death insurance, and a health plan which promised to
provide treatment packages and free life-long checkups at its
hospitals. "Unity's illegal operation rakes in Rs. 6 billion", Republica, 21 April 2010; and "Unity scam: Our collective failure", Republica, 25 May 2010.
150Hachhethu, "Nepali Politics: People-Parties Interface", op.
cit, pp. 161-166.
151 "There's been a big change in society. Maybe 60 per cent of
people are involved in parties. There is no security for ordinary
people so people need party support. All teachers are in politics, so are students". Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April
2009. A human rights activist in Siraha gave an example: "Six
days ago [name] was abducted. He was released only yesterday. Unidentified people had kept him south of the highway.
When they shifted place, locals informed the Maoists and they
deployed their cadres to free him. His father is a local Maoist
leader". Crisis Group interview, October 2009. See Section
152 Big contracts are awarded from the regional headquarters,
home to the directorates for health, education, roads and irrigation. Crisis Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010. Regional
contracts generally yield larger cuts than those at the district
where muscle matters most. Prominent local resources are
VDC and District Development Committee (DDC) budgets, public contracts, humanitarian relief payments and
lucrative local appointments.153 The latter, ranging from
temple trusts to school management committees, are both
ways to retain loyal cadres and provide secondary opportunities for corruption and patronage. With all of these
there is a continuum from amicable distribution to violent
confrontation.154 In most cases, contracts and appointments are fixed peacefully between parties, administrators and contractors.155 But threats of violence by gundas
and party youth wings often play out in the background, eg,
protecting contractor cartels from outside competition.156
and VDC level, which are under local scrutiny for example by
user committees. Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, August
2010. On district budgets, an NC leader commented: "We
would take ten or twelve thousand out of a one lakh [100,000]
water budget". Crisis Group interview, Salyan, February 2010.
But even the smaller VDC budgets are important. "Development is still a problem. The money is sent to the VDCs but the
use is not monitored. That way there are no changes from the
times of monarchy". Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district
secretary, Rajbiraj, October 2009.
153 After the dissolution of elected local bodies in 2002, local
party representatives have retained considerable informal influence over VDC and DDC budgets, for example through consumer
committees or all-party mechanisms like LPCs. See fn. 155.
154 A popular method for violently capturing contracts is to
physically block competitors from the office where bids have to
be submitted. Confrontations between gangs hired for this
purpose by competing contractors, or sponsored by different
parties, can escalate. There are countless variations, including
intimidation before and after the bidding process. Crisis Group
interviews, Rupandehi, December 2009; Biratnagar, February
2010. There are also numerous ways to subvert it. For instance,
a contractor lacking access to gundas may bribe civil servants
working in the office concerned to smuggle bidding documents
inside and later negotiate the profit from the contract with more
powerful competitors. Crisis Group interview, contractor, Rupandehi, December 2009. In some districts in the eastern Tarai,
armed groups appear to have become involved. "Armed groups
are more effectively involved in contract capture. They are the
first choice of politicians. Armed groups can terrorise many,
gundas only few. Armed groups work by making phone calls
before the tender bid". Crisis Group interview, journalist, Lahan, October 2009.
155 "The political parties bargain at the district level and distribute the VDC budgets", a human rights activist in Siraha said.
"Each leader tries to distribute as much as possible to their own
VDCs". Crisis Group interview, Lahan, October 2009; "YCL,
YF bury hatchet for tender moolah", The Kathmandu Post, 17
November 2008.
156 Crisis Group interview, Rupandehi, December 2009. Online
submission of tender bids might curb corruption and violence.
BalaramBaniya, "Aba sabai thekkama ilektronik biding", Kantipur, 27 March 2010; Achyut Wagle, "I-prokyorment ra arthik
sushasan", Nepal, 17 April 2010. In Dang, where e-tenders have
been introduced, a journalist credited them with some reduction
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2.    Mafia market
As anew competitor for political space and state resources,
the Maoists entered a well established game,157 but they
also shook up established divisions ofthe spoils.158 The
renegotiation of local balances of power was and is often
violent. Many clashes between party youth wings or
gangs with party connections are over tenders, local positions in schools or hospitals and other state resources.159
While they were in government, the Maoists used their
influence in the administration. A UML district leader
complained: "they get money meant for local development direct from the finance ministry and they seem to
have taken tenders under control - we can't accept this
unilateral behaviour".160 After their withdrawal from
government in April 2009 they still had local clout and
continued to assert their claims to local resources.
Some violence without immediate material incentive is
ultimately about patronage. This applies, for example, to
the frequent escalation of minor disputes between indi-
in violence. Crisis Group interview, Dang, February 2010. But
e-tenders are more likely to displace the problem than to solve
it; a contractor can still be threatened after winning the contract
through online bidding. Crisis Group interview, MJF(N) district
president, Morang, February 2010.
157 In a 2010 Himalmedia survey 35.9 per cent of respondents
said corruption had worsened (against 31.1 per cent who said it
decreased), while a majority said political violence had decreased (64.2 per cent), as had organised crime (54.2 per cent)
and the incidence of bandas (58.8 per cent). "Janata parivartan
chahanchan", op. cit. In the latest Transparency International
corruption perception index, Nepal occupies position 143 out of
180, down from position 138 in 2008. In South Asia, only Afghanistan occupies a lower position (179). Corruption perception indices 2008 and 2009, Transparency International, available at
cpi/2009/. On the consequences of corruption and politicisation
in the health sector, see: Sharan Prasad Sharma, "Politics and
corruption mar health care in Nepal", The Lancet, vol. 375, no.
9731, 12 June 2010.
158 A typical example is Myagdi, where all parties united
against the Maoists after government land was sold and leased
out to the YCL. The parties, including the Maoists, had agreed
in 2008 that no land from the Myagdi Food Corporation would
be sold. The Food Corporation nevertheless sold land to a Maoist supporter, through a middleman and well below market
value. Ghanshy am Khadka, "Maobadiviruddha sabai dal", Kantipur, 14 February 2010.
159 Crisis Group interviews, various districts, August 2009-
February 2010. A worrying development is the use of firearms
in tender-related clashes. "Students go berserk over college
tender", The Kathmandu Post, 6 July 2009. "The situation between Biratnagar gundas has become very tense. There have
been murders to do with contracts. They are all afraid now".
Crisis Group interview, Biratnagar, September 2010.
160 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
vidual party cadres into larger inter-party clashes.161 The
provision of everyday security is a central component of
patronage and parties need to demonstrate that they can
defend their supporters. There is a clear incentive for parties to retaliate visibly if one oftheir supporters is attacked,
even if their affiliation is tenuous or unclear.162
The UML reacted to new competition from the Maoists
by setting up the YF. There are strong indications that
both Maoists and UML have recruited young gang members into their respective youth wings.163 In the eastern
and central Tarai, different parties started supporting
armed groups to counteract the Maoists.164 The increased
use of youth gangs has heightened the dependence of parties on them, which itself increased pressure on parties to
protect their involvement in illegal activities. While this
was already the case earlier, the competition between
YCL, YF and other groups has escalated the dynamic. A
YF leader in a midwestern district said: "The YCL recruited many gundas. They feed them in a way that other
parties can't; they do this by getting in on tenders".165
The relationship between parties and armed groups is one
of compulsion and interdependency, but also convenience.
Kidnapping and extortion have become big business in
the central and eastern Tarai and urban centres in the west.
Armed groups and gangs are responsible for most ofthe
extortion. But they depend on a wider network including
politicians and the police to operate with near impunity.166
"Much violence is not for political reasons, but is politicised". Crisis Group interview, UML district chairman, 4 February 2010. However, this violence is often about political
space at the same time. See next section.
162 For example, NC and Maoist cadres in Humla clashed after a
minor business dispute between an NC and a Maoist cadre in
April 2010. "Curfew in Simkot after NC, Maoists clash", The
Kathmandu Post, 8 April 2010. A series of clashes between
Maoist and UML cadres in Lamjung in early 2009 started with
local Maoists attacking a contractor they say is not affiliated to
the UML but who the UML itself claims is their cadre. Crisis
Group interviews, Maoist and UML district secretaries, April 2009.
163 Crisis Group interviews, Morang, Dang, Salyan, Rukum,
January-March 2010. See Section III.A.3.
164 "First the parties wanted to protect themselves from the
Maoists, then to reduce the influence ofthe Maoists. The parties helped establish the armed groups. But leaders lost control". Crisis Group interview, human rights activist, Dhanusha,
15 October 2009.
165 Crisis Group interview, Salyan, 20 February 2010.
166 According to a civil society activist in Nepalgunj, the UML
protects a notorious local armed group leader and had him released from prison. Similarly, the NC secured the release of another local armed group leader after his arrest by the police.
Crisis Group interview, February 2010. A human rights activist
in Dhanusha alleged complicity both of major parties and the
administration: "It is clear that political parties protected armed
groups in the last year: NC, MJF, NSP and also the Maoists in
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Politicians usually do not protect armed groups for direct
financial gain. The gangs assist them during elections,
tender processes and as general support to their authority.
Protection from the law is the service they offer in return.
"The parties need the armed groups and vice-versa", said
an independent Madhesi analyst, "the former for pressure
and the latter for protection".167 As with gundas, the use
of gangs and armed groups is institutionalised to a degree
that makes it hard if not impossible for individual politicians to opt out.
Forthe police, convenience compounds need. Senior police officers often complain about political interference
when they try to take action against armed groups and
criminal gangs. They are indeed often pressured and politicians can credibly threaten transfers. The Tarai districts,
which are the centres for extortion, are also smuggling
hubs and offer lucrative if illegal income for senior officials, who generally pay significant amounts to be posted
there.168 Transfer threats are therefore very effective. The
need to recoup the investment also renders protecting
criminal groups against a cut ofthe profit tempting in itself169 The alliance between police and extortionists is
one or two instances. They were also directly protected by CDO
and SP. The SP would call the armed groups and demand a cut
and say that he would otherwise finish them. For eight to nine
months in 2008 the administration was only running after
money". Crisis Group interview, October 2009. Similar observations were made in other Tarai districts. "Extortion money is
shared with the local police as well", said a journalist in Rajbiraj. "If not, the cadres are immediately arrested". Crisis Group
interview, September 2009. According to ajournalist in Lahan:
"The people from the armed groups say 'the police help us because we are paying the police chief as well'". Crisis Group
interview, October 2009.
167 Crisis Group interview, Biratnagar, September 2009.
168 "jfe police have a full internal tender system", said a human
rights activist in Nepalgunj. He claimed that district police
chief positions start at Rs. 2,000,000 ($26,000). A lucrative
posting like Banke starts at Rs. 5,000,000 ($65,500) and goes
up into crores (ten millions) of rupees (one crore rupees corresponds to $130,000). Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
Even entering the police force often comes at a cost. In a
prominent example, UML CA Member Dol Bahadur Karki was
suspended in September 2010 for taking a bribe of Rs. 405,000
($5,400) for the recruitment of a police inspector. "'Crooked'
Karki loses CA berth", The Kathmandu Post, 22 September 2010.
169 "If you want a promotion you have to pay. So how to get the
money? The DIG [Deputy Inspector General] ofthe eastern region gets a monthly payment. And they have to pay to the minister". Crisis Group interview, journalist, Rajbiraj, September
2009. For example, villagers in Banke accuse the police of doing
nothing as a gang led by an NC district leader attacked them
and killed one person in a dispute over forming a consumer
committee for constructing a local road. "Gaun kabja gari
aatank macchaunelai prahariko samrakshan", Naya Patrika, 20
April 2010; J. Pandey, "Daka aakramanma ekko mrityu,
gaunbhartras", Kantipur, 20 April 2010.
not always an easy one. Not all police chiefs can be bought
off, and some rather take money from the armed groups'
victims. The police reportedly killed several armed group
leaders in Dhanusha in 2009 after businessmen had paid
forthe murders. The price for such an extrajudicial killing
may be as low as Rs. 200,000 to Rs. 300,000 ($2,600 to
Ministers sit at the apex ofthe politics of administrative
appointments, transfers and promotions. Their profit from
criminal activities is mostly indirect; bribes paid to the
police by criminals help to recover the hefty sums paid
for transfers into lucrative districts in the first instance.
But however indirect the link, there is little incentive (or
moral clout) to push senior police officers harder on tackling lucrative crime. Sometimes the connections between
armed groups and national level politicians are direct. For
example, the police chief of Siraha was transferred after
the police, probably extrajudicially, killed two armed group
leaders said to be close to a state minister.171
Prominent journalists and civil society figures also profit
from the economy of favours and connections by acting
as go-betweens with armed groups.172 In some instances
they may be paid for brokering bribes or negotiating hostage
releases.173 These dynamics reflect more general broker
roles. One customs officer at a major Tarai border crossing said: "It's not businesspeople that come to me directly.
In fact, I get the most trouble from journalists. Every day
Crisis Group interview, police officer, Janakpur, February
171 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Lahan, October 2009. A
senior police officer said a group of CA members including the
state minister had lobbied the home minister and the prime
minister, threatening to pull out ofthe government ifthe police
chief was not transferred. Crisis Group interview, August 2010.
172 Human rights and civil society activists in Tarai districts frequently negotiate in extortion and kidnapping cases. Crisis
Group interview, civil society activist, Nepalgunj, February
2010. A Maoist district leader in Saptari said: "I often negotiate
with armed groups when somebody is abducted". Crisis Group
interview, Rajbiraj, October 2009. Crisis Group's interviews
with armed group leaders in Sunsari were facilitated by a local
journalist and human rights activist. Crisis Group interviews,
September 2009.
173 A senior police officer in the eastern Tarai said: "Human
rights activists are always negotiating in cases of abduction. I
suspect they receive a cut as well". Crisis Group interview, Rajbiraj, February 2010. An extreme and controversial example is
that of prominent journalist Rishi Dhamala, who was arrested
alongside three other persons on charges of being linked with
an armed group and conspiring to extort a Kathmandu-based
businessman. The cabinet later withdrew the charges. See Crisis Group Report, Nepal: Peace and Justice, op. cit, fn. 12.
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local journalists come to me acting as go-betweens and
demanding concessions or special favours".174
There are indicators that organisational lines between political parties, gundas and armed groups are blurring. In
Morang, for example, well-known gundas previously
only informally affiliated with major parties have entered
their district leadership in 2009.175 Relations between parties and armed groups in the Tarai tend to be less formal,
though still publicly known.176 In Nepalgunj, a notorious
armed group leader was regularly seen in the UML party
office before he went underground after the killing of a
VDC secretary in January 2009.177 The arms race in
which parties build up their youth wings and expand ties
with criminal groups thereby risks institutionalising
higher levels of political violence.
3.    Fighting for political space
General contestation of political space is an important
cause for clashes between political parties or their proxies. Being able to conduct party activities freely is particularly relevant during elections, but political space
holds importance far beyond. Party activities are often an
important element of local social life. Offering regular
activities and programs is crucial for binding people into
party networks. For securing their position in the party
hierarchy, district leaders need to demonstrate to national
leaders that they are able to garner support and assert
themselves locally. Mass gatherings for important visitors
offer opportunities, but can also represent awkward moments of truth.178 Political space is also inseparably linked
Crisis Group interview, Birgunj, April 2009.
175 Crisis Group interviews, Biratnagar, July 2008, October
2009 and February 2010. In the past it was generally known
which party a particular gunda worked for, but the relationship
either remained informal or formal positions were limited to
youth organisations and student wings.
176 There are exceptions. Although armed group members do
not usually hold positions in parties, many are members, presumably as it is useful for political intervention. As one CDO
said: "one cadre has two identities; one from Janatantrik, one
from a big party". Crisis Group interview, district administrator, Lahan, 14 October 2009.
177 Crisis Group interview, civil society activist, Nepalgunj, 24
February 2010.
178 For example a local Maoist leader in Bhojpur recalled the
embarrassment for local NC leaders when only around 60
mainly older people attended a function for visiting Sushil
Koirala, then NC vice-president. Crisis Group interview, Bhojpur, February 2010. The assertion appears realistic; the NC in
Bhojpur is in complete disarray. An NC leader complained bitterly about dysfunction and disputes within the party. Crisis
Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010. A late nightNC meeting witnessed by Crisis Group researchers in a restaurant in
Bhojpur in January 2010 featured shouting matches over petty
to access to state resources and dispensing patronage, as
well as the local balance of power, including during violent
The same reasons which render political space so important also lead to ostensibly disproportional violence. Again,
this is not a new phenomenon. The use of violence to restrict each others' political space was already common in
the 1990s. Relations between UML and NC were often
shockingly bad at the local level. Limited violence over
political space is a given. A police officer in Bhojpur
commented on NC complaints about intimidation by the
Maoists: "The Maoists haven't used weapons. They only
use their brains and hands; other parties should be able to
counter that".179
The "people's war" and its aftermath have fundamentally
changed the distribution of political space. UML and
even more so NC party structures were significantly
weakened during the conflict, when the Maoists targeted
many oftheir representatives. The effects are lasting.
An NC leader in Salyan said "the young don't know any
ofthe NC faces anymore, only the Maoists".180 In some of
their former base areas, the Maoist dominance is so
strong that it rarely needs further assertion. These districts
may be quiet, but political space has been tightened. An
NC leader in Rukum said that while party activities in the
district capital faced little restriction and party workers
could travel all over the district, cadres in the villages
were still not able to assert their political views openly.181
"The Maoists totally dominate", a police officer confirmed.182
The most violent confrontations over political space after
2006 took place between the YCL and the YF. The struggle between Maoists and UML is a potentially existential
one for the latter. The two parties not only compete for
votes, but also for party workers. In 2009, about half of
the Maoist district leaders were former UML cadres.183 In
issues such as the reimbursement for cookies at a functionyears
back. Crisis Group observation, Bhojpur, January 2010.
179 Crisis Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010.
180 Crisis Group interview, NC district secretary, Salyan, 21
February 2010.
181 Crisis Group interview, NC district leader, Rukum, February
2010. Conversely, a UML-affiliated weekly accuses the Maoists of using brutal violence to prevent activities by other parties
in Rukum, Rolpa and Salyan. For example, it cites unprovoked
Maoist attacks on UML Rukum District Committee members in
January 2010. Lokendra K.C, "Rukumma maobadidvara bar-
bar hamla", Budhabar, 21 January 2010.
182 Crisis Group interview, Rukum, February 2010.
183 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?,
op. cit, p. 12. The fundamental anxiety reflected in the statement of a UML district leader: "We can sort things out through
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Taplejung, for example, many UML cadres defected at
the height ofthe conflict;184 this suggests some ideological dedication. One ofthe UML's responses has been to
build up their own capacity for violence. For UML leaders,
the large number of Maoist whole timers is a natural point
of concern.185 They set up the YF primarily out of a sense
of being threatened by the Maoists' overpowering physical presence.186 There are reports of prominent UML leaders openly supporting violence during district visits.187
The other response is to try and isolate the Maoists,
viewed by the latter as attempt to provoke them into a
violent response.188 In some hill districts the UML reportedly has attempted to form unity fronts,189 for example with
the NC forthe election of school management committees.190
Violence between youth wings is by no means confined
to UML-Maoist rivalry.191 The limited involvement of NC
cadres in clashes is the result of organisational weakness
more than policy. Where local NC structures are still
strong enough, its supporters have flexed their muscle.192
During the 2008 elections and 2009 by-elections, NC cadres successfully captured booths in some hill and Tarai
dialogue but each must recognise the other's right to exist".
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
184 Crisis Group interview, Taplejung, February 2010.
185 A UML leader in Bhojpur compared the 135 YCL whole
timers in the district (others provided similar estimates, see fn.
57) to the five whole timers in the YF. Crisis Group interview,
Bhojpur, January 2010.
186 As a UML district secretary said: "We had to set up the YF
to counter the YCL. In the villages people are still scared ofthe
Maoists; if the YCL comes people will be on edge". Crisis
Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
187 At a DNYF district meeting also attended by communication
minister Shankar Pokharel, the "central coordinator of the
Youth Force Mahesh Basnet called on the Forces [YF] cadres
to boldly retaliate against the excesses committed by the YCL".
"Youth Wing would be managed soon: Pokharel", The Rising
Nepal, 4 August 2009.
188 Crisis Group interview, UCPN(M) district in-charge, Taplejung, 4 February 2010.
189 Crisis Group interview, NC district leader, Salyan, February
190 Crisis Group interview, journalist, Kathmandu, February 2010.
191 Current perceptions about the YCL as the pre-eminent threat
can colour accounts about past relations with other parties.
Asked a year later about pre-election violence between UML
and NC cadres witnessed by Crisis Group staff a UML district
leader said: "I don't remember any problems with the NC in the
run-up to the election - with the Maoists, yes, but things were
always fine with the NC". Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24
April 2009.
192 For example, twelve people were injured in April 2010 when
NC supporters clashed with police in Nuwakot after being denied entry to the district administration office to request an investigation into an YCL attack on an NSU member. "Prahari-
kangres karyakartajhadap, 12 ghaite", Kantipur, 16 April 2010.
On NSU violence see also fn. 144.
districts.193 But the NC has failed to rebuild most of its
district structures after the conflict and there is little representation at the village level. District leaders complain
bitterly about the failure to attract the young.194 The NC's
spending power possibly averted an even worse result in
the CA elections.195 The false sense of security which persisted in the party before the polls is now gone; some
commentators are hopeful that the 2009 Mahasamiti's
statute changes and the passing away of Girija Prasad
Koirala have opened up NC ranks to newcomers and
brought in more young people.196
The major parties are in the process of renegotiating political space. Some ofthe related violence is likely to cease
once the contestation has settled in new equilibriums. But
such settlements will still be based on implicit threats of
violence. None ofthe major parties is therefore likely to
go back on building up their youth wings or their involvement with criminal gangs.
4.    Rites of protest
Protests including bandas are a way of making one's
voice and grievances heard at a time of political transition
when the political pie is newly distributed. In particular,
ethnic and regional activists have extensively used protests.
Nepal's political culture has well defined rules of performance for protests. Agitating groups face the choice of
following these rules or breaking them. The former means
engaging with mainstream politics on its own terms, but
also provides easier access to it. The latter can be used to
try to bypass established networks, but at the risk of being
viewed as illegitimate. Most forms of protest are in essence polite and formulaic. But even harmless ones, like
wearing black armbands or fasts-unto-death in which no
one ever dies, are still taken surprisingly seriously. There
Crisis Group observation, Lamjung (April 2008 CA election
campaign) and Sapahi, Dhanusha (April 2009 CA by-election).
194 Crisis Group interviews, NC district leaders, Salyan and
Rukum, February 2010. A Tarun Dal activist in Bhojpur complained about a complete lack of training and activities. Crisis
Group interview, Bhojpur, January 2010.
195 "We could not compete with NC spending", said a UML
leader in Taplejung about the CA elections. Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
196 A prominent NC youth leader was cautiously enthusiastic
that the 12th NC general convention from 17 to 20 September
2010 would result in a more diverse central working committee
and could create opportunities for substantive policy changes:
"There are new faces but also old networks. The new people
will not break with their old networks. They also have to think
about their security, their security in the party. You don't come
in as a new person and then directly go against your leaders.
But they will also feel some pressure ... expectations that they
will change things." Crisis Group interview, September 2010.
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Page 25
is plenty of scope for pushing the boundaries without
breaking them; slogans get rougher but not too rough and
even physical violence like manhandling is intended in
the first instance to insult rather than injure. Nevertheless,
calculated transgressions introduce ambiguity, at the
same time indicating knowledge of and tentative adherence to the rules as well as the possibility of a radical
break with them.
New groups try to leapfrog not just party structures but
also the previously accepted steps of escalation. Even
though the Maoists eventually took up arms, they had
gone through decades of peaceful communist activism
and recruitment in their core areas and three years of
parliamentary politics. Many new groups have stepped up
protests more rapidly and some did not bother with preliminary and peaceful steps at all. This is a result of a
changing political culture emphasising a broader distribution of state patronage as a matter of right. The change is
less radical than current militant struggles suggest, as it
asks for the expansion of state patronage, rather than the
state's transformation.197 But it is understandably upsetting for political elites, including the Maoists, as protesting
groups increasingly demand to enter negotiations as equals.
Bandas are a case in point. They are not new but the current
political situation makes them a particularly attractive option.198 For some, they may simply be the most effective
way to achieve political aims. But for others they are the
only way. Bandas do help some who were previously
without means to hold the state accountable to make their
demands heard.199 Groups with weak party connections
can now challenge the party monopoly to pressure the
government, thereby sidelining and weakening patronage
distribution through party networks. Examples are Rai
and Limbu groups in the eastern hills and protests in the
Those who use bandas now have good reasons for it.200
They severely disrupt public life, inconveniencing and
Similarly, anthropologist Genevieve Lakier notes that strikes
and blockades "in Nepal have generally been used not to overturn the democratic system, but to work within it". "Illiberal
Democracy and the Problem of Law: Street Protest and Democratization in Multiparty Nepal", in Mahendra Lawoti (ed.),
Contentious Politics and Democratization in Nepal (New
Delhi, 2007), p. 254.
198 For statistics on bandas, see fn. 5. For definitions of different forms of bandas see fn. 93.
199 Lakier argues that post-1990 political protests, many of them
coercive and apparently out of step with the values of liberal
democracy, afforded otherwise unrepresented groups to make
themselves heard. Lakier, "Illiberal Democracy and the Problem of Law", op. cit.
200 During the Panchayat years, bandas were the last, and very
rare, step of escalation of public protests. Dissent usually
started in private and then progressed via a series of increas-
angering many. But they also tend to be effective in
achieving their aims, be it securing compensation for
road traffic accidents or wringing concessions out ofthe
government. The risk involved is minimal as the police
rarely interfere.201 Bandas also communicate political
strength in ways important in the current political climate.
A well observed banda may indicate public support for a
group or a demand. It may also imply that a group's threats
of violence are taken seriously. Both public support and
capacity for violence are the basis for political voice.
Disruptive protests have gone some way towards levelling
a very unequal political playing field. Opinions naturally
vary widely between winners and losers of this process.
Whether this can have real and lasting effects on social
and political power structures remains to be seen. But
there are hints at limits to their sustainability. Ironically,
the success and regular use of bandas has undermined
their power and rendered all less intrusive forms of public
protest ineffective.
5.    Bounded disorder
The nexus between armed gangs, politicians and administrators means that political violence, particularly overthe
distribution of resources, is probably here to stay. Although
this is concerning from a rule of law perspective, resource
clashes are unlikely to escalate; budget lines involving
donor money risk getting cut off if violent contestation of
local disbursement is too visible and no one involved is
interested in losing the resources they are competing to
control. Local political leaders would also risk upsetting
important constituencies with uncontrolled violence. The
armed groups would hardly be interested either. Their
organisational structures and mobilisation strategies are
geared towards varying mixes of pressure politics and
criminal enterprise. The bulk oftheir members signed up
for lower risks and not for open confrontation with the
state. Paradoxically, the most militant and (criminally)
active groups are the least likely candidates for new large
scale violence.
More powerful actors enforce red lines and limit how far
new groups can cross them. Especially the Maoists have
ingly public demonstrations. Only ifthe government failed to
make concessions and de-legitimised itself sufficiently by
cracking down on the protests, did calling a banda become acceptable; and even then it still carried considerable risks for
those enforcing it. Richard Burghart, "The Conditions of Listening: The Everyday Experience of Politics in Nepal", in
Richard Burghart (Christopher John Fuller and Jonathan
Spencer, eds.), The Conditions of Listening (New Delhi, 2008
201 Obstructing traffic on highways is a punishable act according to the Local Administration Act (amended in 2064 B.S.).
"2065 BS: A Year of Strikes",, 14 April2009.
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Page 26
made clear that they take unwritten rules of political behaviour seriously, and punish transgressions where they
are strong enough. For example, the YCL beat up and
displaced cadres of Pallo Kirat in Panchthar over their secession demand and KJWP cadres in Bhojpur for extorting local businessmen. A wider public also polices these
limits. Far from polarising less radical ethnic activists,
Maoist actions were broadly welcomed in both districts.202
While much criminal violence is protected, not everybody
can be targeted without consequence. Many victims of
extortion and kidnapping in the Tarai are small businessmen or families who are sent remittances by relatives
abroad.203 Violence is routinely used against low caste
landless tenants in local disputes.204 In contrast, targeting
influential individuals, like big businessmen or politicians,
can be risky.205 Local businessmen in Janakpur likely paid
the police for killing at least one feared extortionist in
2009.206 The victims of encounter killings - essentially
police extrajudicial executions - are usually armed group
members lacking both public sympathy and high-level
connections.207 A Goit or Jwala Singh could not be killed
202AnFLSC(L) cadre in Panchthar said: "We strongly oppose
Pallo Kirat. They want to break a part out ofthe country! We
did not oppose the YCL when they kicked them out of the district". Crisis Group interview, September 2009. Crisis Group
interviews, Bhojpur, February 2010. On Bhojpur, see also Section III. A.3.
203 A journalist in Rajbiraj provided examples: "A few days ago
in Naktiraipur VDC [name] Miya, a 60-year-old man, was
abducted. They ask ten lakh from his son who has recently returned from working abroad. In the same week in Malhaniya
VDC a technical assistant was abducted, [name] Yadav." Crisis
Group interview, journalist, Rajbiraj, October 2009.
204 Local observers including Dalit activists say landlords and
local politicians frequently beat, rob or bum down entire settlements of lower caste agricultural workers in disputes over
wages or the use of local resources such as public land or fish
ponds. Crisis Group interviews, Saptari, Siraha, October 2009
and February 2010.
205 Crisis Group interview, police officer, Janakpur, 10 February 2010.
206 Pressure on the police to kill Akash Tyagi appears to have
come from large parts of Janakpur's business community.
Journalists and human rights activists say several businessmen
he threatened and attacked paid the police for his killing on 21
June 2009. Crisis Group interviews, Janakpur, October 2009
and February 2010.
207 A journalist inDhanusa said local media did not even report
when the police killed two individuals he described as notorious rapists and murderers. Crisis Group interview, February
2010. But top-level connections do not always protect armed
group leaders. "Manager" Mahato and Parshuram Yadav, two
armed group leaders killed by the police in Siraha in June 2009,
were reportedly connected to an MJF(Democratic) assistant
minister. The MJF(D) later pressed for the DSP [deputy superintendent of police] at the time to be transferred. Crisis Group
interview, journalist, Siraha, October 2009.
in a similar fashion.208 This keeps armed group leaders
dependent on their party connections.
Those armed group leaders with genuine political aims
press for particular demands within the existing political
order. Overstepping the boundaries of acceptable political
violence too far would jeopardise chances forthe eventual
admission or readmission into the political mainstream.
Negotiations with the government are a function of this.
Apart from the security guarantees and prisoner releases
which come with the talks, they allow militant groups to
establish themselves as legitimate political players with
mainstream aspirations. The outcome may not be of primary importance. No talks since those leading to the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2006 came at
a crunch point for either the government or armed groups
involved. Failed or stalled negotiations at the same time
legitimise further violence.
Given these constraints, a dramatic escalation of violence
is unlikely in the short run. The risks ofthe institutionali-
sation of a criminal-political nexus play out in the midterm; as non-violent strategies become less effective and
smaller groups become more vulnerable to political violence, taking up arms might appear to be the only way to
make their voices heard.
C. Anarchy or Acculturation?
Most ofthe so called armed groups are highly unlikely to
get involved in violence that brings them into direct confrontation with the state. Both their raisons d'etre and organisational structures are too steeped in local politics,
and there is no popular demand for them to speak of. The
eastern Tarai, where the armed groups have discredited
themselves with most ofthe general population, is a case
in point.
The risky combination of relative autonomy from mainstream politics and a measure of public support currently
exists only in the eastern hills. The aims of Rai and
Limbu groups, including autonomous Khambuwan and
Limbuwan states in a federal setting, have some popular
base, including among Kirati elites. While there is little
public support now for armed resistance, should the new
constitution fail to reflect these aims, widespread support
for protests is likely. Much would then depend on the reaction ofthe administration. Heavy handed and indiscriminate
police action could galvanise support for a violent uprising. These factors could be compounded by the economic
situation. Although better off than many other areas, the
Crisis Group interview, journalist, Janakpur, February 2010.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 27
eastern hills are the only region in Nepal where the poverty
rate is increasing.209
The only other exception is Matrika Yadav's CPN(M).
With its committed and experienced leadership and cadre,
it is the only group that could realistically try to launch a
fully armed insurrection. But whether it could gain real
traction would depend on its ability to strike the right alliances. Madhesi politics are dominated by Tarai landed
elites, who are unlikely to subscribe to a revolutionary
agenda. Matrika's land reform agenda is likely to hold
some appeal among landless and low caste Madhesis, but
there is no precedent for their successful mobilisation on
the basis oftheir caste or class. Beyond the Tarai, his regional and caste background is an obstacle to mobilisation. However, a further influx of disappointed Maoists
could strengthen his position; and particularly in the east,
an alliance with the CPN(M) could be tempting for radicalising Kirati groups.210
Limited opportunities for young people in combination
with rising education standards and aspirations are important, but will not encourage violence in themselves. Youth
discontent did help Maoist recruitment during the civil
war. In the meantime little has changed,211 and political
awareness has only grown.
Landlessness in Nepal is high, but party attempts to mobilise the landless have mostly been ad hoc and aimed at
securing their votes but stopping short of supporting more
assertive class-based movements. This does not mean it is
not possible. The Maoist organised land grab in Dudejhari
in December 2009 demonstrated that landless people can
Magnus Hatlebakk, "Inclusive Growth in Nepal", CMI, Bergen, June 2008. Hatlebakk attributes the increase in poverty in
the eastern hills between 1995 and 2003 to lower migration
rates compared to other regions.
210 As it has been in the past, see fn. 126.
211 Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?, op.
cit, p. 32. Unemployment rates are not particularly high, but
underemployment is a real problem. The overall unemployment
rate is 2.1 per cent, but urban unemployment is significantly
higher, at 7.5 per cent. Unemployment is highest among urban
youths (fifteen to twenty years), at 13 per cent. Underemployment (involuntarily working less than 40 hours per week) is at
6.7 per cent, up from 4.1 per cent in 1998/1999. Underemployment is highest among the twenty to 29 year olds, at around 8 per
cent. "Report on the Nepal Labour Force Survey 2008", Central
Bureau of Statistics, National Planning Commission Secretariat, Government of Nepal, August 2009. Nepal's total labour
force has increased significantly over the last few years. According to the latest available World Bank figures, the labour
force increased by 375,000 from 2005 to 2006, by 370,000
from 2006 to 2007 and by 416,000 from 2007 to 2008. "Labor
force, total", World Bank, available at
be mobilised for radical action.212 But no major party including the Maoists is likely to risk annoying powerful
local elites by taking more than symbolic action.
The agendas of some groups have led to increasing local
polarisation along ethnic lines. But communal violence is
not an immediate risk. Prominent Tarai armed groups still
use rhetoric of ethnic cleansing and occasionally threaten
bureaucrats of hill origin or pahadis in general to leave
the plains.213 Although underlying tensions still exist, the
Tarai has proved remarkably resilient to serious attempts
at ethnic polarisation.214 No tit-for-tat violence has occurred
since the riots in Nepalgunj in 2006 and local attempts to
establish pahadi self-defence groups were mostly unsuccessful.215 Past Limbu and Rai protests in the eastern hills
did have strong anti-Brahmin and Chhetri undertones. But
most current Kirati movements emphasise ethnic harmony
and welcome members regardless oftheir ethnic background.216
More serious risks may arise from future confrontations
between proponents and opponents of federalism. There
are growing movements both against federalism in general and federalism along ethnic lines in particular. For
now diffuse and disparate, the groups involved range
from far left nationalists to conservatives who simultaneously struggle for reinstating the monarchy and revoking
secularism.217 This may not be an impediment to joint
A journalist in Dang asserted that "the Maoists can mobilise
5,000 to 10,000 people any day, especially on land issues".
Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
213 "Terror in Nepal's Terai as armed group's ultimatum ends",, 20 December 2008; "Jwala warning to judges",
The Kathmandu Post, 29 July 2009.
214For example in Biratnagar, a small group of pahadi party
activists and businessmen after the first Madhesi movement in
2007 called a meeting of influential individuals of hill origin to
establish apahadi self-defence organisation. At the meeting the
idea was rejected as dangerous by the vast majority of participants and never got off the ground. Crisis Group interviews,
Biratnagar, July 2008.
215 One exception is the Chure Bhawar Ekata Samaj (CBES),
but it is now largely inactive. Crisis Group interview, Dhanusha, October 2009. An exception is Siraha, where the group
maintains an active committee. Crisis Group interview, Lahan,
October 2009. The CBES was originally established to defend
the interests of pahadis in the Tarai in response to the Madhesi
movement. See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai
Region, op. cit.
216 See Section IIIA.
217 On the left, Rastriya Janamorcha has persistently spoken out
against federalism. "Unite to dispose of imposed federalism:
K.C",, 7 March 2010; "Masai for alliance
against federalism", Republica, 14 March 2010. The RPP(N),
which also demands the reinstitution of the Hindu state and
monarchy, wants a referendum on federalism. "Royalist party
brings life to halt", The Kathmandu Post, 23 February 2010.
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Page 28
action. A cross-party alliance initiated by the leftist
Rastriya Janamorcha in March 2010 also includes prominent NC and UML leaders.218 Demonstrations organised
by the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal),
RPP(N), are well attended.219
Conservative anti-federalism has a militant fringe. The
Nepal Defence Army (NDA) seeks to reestablish Nepal
as a Hindu kingdom and has been responsible for several
terrorist attacks.220 The Janabadi Hill Tigers are a little
known group threatening violent opposition to attempts to
establish a federal system.221 The Khas Chhetri Ekata
Samaj announced the formation of a paramilitary organisation.222 Although there have not yet been systematic
confrontations between pro- and anti-federalists, some
violence between them has occurred.223
If and when it happens, implementing federalism will in
the short term be a zero-sum game as parties, communities and individuals scrabble for positions and resources
within the new states. Given the emerging opposition to
federalism as well as widely overlapping claims to territory and resources, new political conflicts at best and
more serious unrest at worst are to be expected. Whether
it is the former or the latter will to a great extent depend
on the reaction ofthe state. Disproportionate and indiscriminate responses are likely to generate wider support
for violent uprisings.224 But addressing common grievances early on, combined with targeted measures against
unpopular and disruptive groups, could keep down the heat.
Similarly, the Bhisma Ekata Parishad, a group mostly active in
far-western Nepal, rejects ethnic federalism and demands a
Hindu state. "Bandha for Hindu State: Mid, Far-West hit", The
Kathmandu Post, 22 March 2010.
218 "Anti-federalists form joint front", Republica, 18 March
2010. The anti-federalism theme is widely discussed in mainstream and party-affiliated publications. See for example the
interviews with Professor Dil Bahadur Chhetri, chairman of
Chhetri Samaj: "We are not a communal body: Chhetri Samaj",
Newsfront, 15 February 2010; "Jatiya rajyale grihayuddha
nimtyaunchha", Rajdhani, 16 February 2010. See also Punarjagaran editorial, "Kshetri samaj le rajdhanimabajaeko khata-
rako ghanti kaska lagi bajeko ho?", 16 February 2010.
219In a 2009 survey more than a quarter of respondents (26.7
per cent) opposed federalism and while almost half (48.1 per
cent) supported federalism, only 19.5 per cent said they want
federalism based on ethnicity or language. "Public opinion of
federalism", editorial, Sudhindra Sharma, The Kathmandu Post,
8 December 2009.
220 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region,
op. cit. After a devastating bomb-attack on a mosque in Biratnagar in May 2008, NDA cadres killed a Jesuit headmaster in
July 2008 and bombed a church in Kathmandu in May 2009. "2
dead in Biratnagar mosque bomb blasts", The Kathmandu Post,
30 March 2008; "School principal shot dead", The Kathmandu
Post, 2 July 2008; "Bomb rocks Dhobighat church; two killed,
dozen others injured",, 23 May 2009.
221 Their activities so far are confined to Bhojpur, where the
group placed several bombs, distributed leaflets and started
demanding donations from the business community. A statement
issued by the group also indicates opposition to the Maoists.
"OCHA situation overview: covering period 16 April to 04
May, 2009", OCHA Nepal, 5 May 2009. In a letter the group
states: "Janabadi Hill Tiger has been formed for the liberation
of Nepali people since the 10-yearpeople'swarandfederal republic failed to liberate them". "Donation terror in Bhojpur",
The Kathmandu Post, 5 June 2009.
222 Crisis Group interviews, Khas Chhetri Ekata Samaj leaders,
Sunsari and Jhapa, September 2010.
223 Cadres ofthe Kirant National Liberation Front, a Maoist sister organisation, attacked a Khas Chhetri Ekata Samaj office in
Bhojpur. "Khas Chhetri Ekata Samaj office vandalized", myre-, 14 July 2009. In Kathmandu, Newar activists
attacked and injured federalism critics at an anti-federalism
demonstration called by the Rastriya Janamorcha on 10 January
224A possibility ethnic leaders are conscious of: "The SSP
[Special Security Plan, see Section IV.A.5] might prove a
chance to reunite. If there is a fire in the house, then you need
your neighbours." Crisis Group interview, FLSC district in-
charge, September 2009.
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Of critical importance in reducing conflict risks and fostering constructive reform is the state's response to instability through policing and public security efforts. These
have been undermined by a lack of strategic clarity, the
politicisation of policing and internal rivalries within the
security sector. In any case, security challenges are more
deeply rooted in entrenched political cultures that good
policing alone cannot address - and that the army is particularly incapable of tackling.
Development experts assume that the state is there to provide services and that if it fails to do so it will face a crisis
of legitimacy. Nepal also tends to feature high on the lists
of fragile or failing states. But the Nepalese state is more
flexible than fragile. It endures - and has survived the
conflict surprisingly unscathed, and unreformed. This is
partly because its own raison d'etre is not serving citizens
so much as servicing the needs of patronage networks and
keeping budgets flowing and corruption going. The state
is dysfunctional by demand. It is slow to reform because
elite incentives are invested in the status quo and public
pressure is rarely acute.
A. Public Security, Policing,
Statistics on violence are weak and in any case do not
necessarily capture insecurity as it is experienced. As an
international security analyst explained, "We've tried to
look at statistics but they're very unreliable. Not all offences
are reported to authorities and the police may be keen to
downplay or under-report incidents that have political
implications. There is no clear picture of whether things
are the same, better or worse".225 The difficulty of making
people feel secure is not lost on administration officials.
"Security is a psychological feeling as much as anything
else," pointed out one official. "The statistics show that
many types of crime have decreased but we have to make
people feel safe".226
But security for whom?227 The reasonable answer is for
the people of Nepal: the state's security sector should be
designed to meet citizens' needs.228 But the peace process
225 Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 16 April 2009.
226 Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April 2009.
227 This is also the title of Charlotte Watson and Rebecca
Crozier's, "Security for whom? Security sector reform and public security inNepal", International Alert, January 2009.
228 Related past Crisis Group reports include: Crisis Group Asia
Report N°157, Reforming Pakistan's Police, 14 July 2008; Crisis Group Asia Report N° 13 8, Reforming Afghanistan's Police,
30 August 2007; Crisis Group Asia Briefing N°85, Policing in
rests on a delicate balance of elite interests. Security policies are disproportionately influenced by the concerns of
powerful institutions, influential urban classes and the
existing security forces.229 Designing new structures is
attractive in theory but probably unworkable in practice.
Any efforts towards reform have to acknowledge and address a complex array of vested interests.
Public security in Nepal was never equal in the first place.
Those whom the state never protected have little to lose
and may see current transformation as opportunity rather
than threat. But others who were well protected by the
state in the past are understandably dismayed by becoming
targets of new forms of insecurity. A human rights activist
in the Tarai said: "I have worked with INSEC for twelve
years. During the people's war I never felt insecure. But
afterwards I did".230
It is hard for ruling groups to understand the perspective
of those exploited, or neglected, by the state. Like politics, policing has often been pretence. Powerful people
have almost never felt the hand ofthe law and the police
have rarely been impartial enforcers of order.231 When
actual power so often flows outside the structures that ostensibly exist to regulate it, there can be little surprise that
the formality of policing is subverted by power relations.
Public security is probably not in as dire a state as commentators make out. Some statistics are encouraging.232
Afghanistan: Still Searching for a Strategy, 18 December 2008;
Crisis Group Africa Report N° 150, Congo: Five Priorities for a
Peacebuilding Strategy, 11 May 2009; Crisis Group Asia
Report N°180, Handing Back Responsibility to Timor-Leste's
Police, 3 December 2009; Crisis Group Asia Report N°182,
Bangladesh: Getting Police Reform Back on Track, 11 December 2009.
229There are major differences in perceptions of insecurity
among those in Kathmandu and people elsewhere. For many in
rural areas, the current state of insecurity is still seen as better
than the fear of violence and constant security checks during
the conflict. Many in Kathmandu see the current decline in the
rule of law in the city as more shocking because they experienced so little of the conflict before the peace agreement.
230 Crisis Group interview, 15 October 2009.
231 See "Cultures of Impunity" in Crisis Group Report, Nepal:
Peace and Justice, op. cit, pp. 5-13.
232 The UML-supporting weekly Budhabar reported comparative statistics which appear to show that the current government
has managed to reduce all major crime statistics. "Tathyankale
bhanchha-'sarvadhiksaphalshanti-suraksha'",5M(i/za6ar, 31
March 2010. Still, many crimes are probably not reported - and
even when they are, police often refuse to file cases, first information reports (FIRs), etc; there is certainly major undercounting.
Reporting crime has too many negative consequences - it will
lead at best to months or years of tiresome and likely fruitless
legal process, at worst to demands for bribes and harassment of
the victim rather than pursuit of the offender.
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Parties in opposition will always use weak law and order
as a stick to beat the government. The Maoist-led administration earned a worse reputation than was warranted.233
Similarly, UML Home Minister Bhim Rawal has had a
torrid tenure, with two high-profile assassinations of
media barons prompting campaigns for his resignation.234
But his record includes more successes than his detractors
Violence and brutal rough justice have long been endemic
in Nepali society. They are notjust recent, conflict-driven
phenomena. Vigilantism is a real risk. The transitional
period has seen lynchings, the burning alive of a woman
in Dhanusha suspected of abducting children,236 the
lynching of three teenage students just outside the capital,
and other bloody incidents in the hills and the Tarai.237
Statutes are not always in line with social norms and traditions - where they clash, accepted convention often
overrides the rule of law.
Public security has become a major concern during the
transition. The peace agreements addressed the topic,
233 For example, at the height of anti-Maoist sentiment as their
administration was about to collapse, one NA division commander said: "In this region the security situation is much better than before. Look at the map [of recent incidents] - where
are the bombs? Where are the threats? There's almost nothing
happening. Of course, if the chief asks I'll tell him the situation's bad because that's what he wants to hear. But in reality
it's fine". He continued, "Of course Girijabau [late Girija
Prasad Koirala] and Khadga Prasad [UML leader K.P. Oli]
shout and scream about anarchy but that's just politics - they 're
determined to pretend everything's going wrong. But as far as I
can see the real security problems are only in the eastern Tarai
and, now, in the eastern hills. The rest of the country isn't in
such a bad state. For the NC and UML it makes sense to cry
that the country's falling apart - but in reality they're shit-
scared that the Maoists are more popular than they are - and
schemes like the self-employment loans are making them more
so". Crisis Group interview, senior Nepalese Army commander, April 2009.
234 "UML asks Rawal to quit", The Kathmandu Post, 5 March
2010; "FNJ asks Nepal, Rawal to quit", Republica, 6 March
2010. Jamim Shah, controversial media entrepreneur and former publisher, was shot in broad daylight in Lazimpat, where
most foreign embassies are located and considered one ofthe
safest areas of Kathmandu, on 7 February 2010. Arun Singhaniya,
media entrepreneur and publisher of Janakpur Today, was
killed on one of Janakpur's busiest junctions, supposedly with
round the clock police presence, on 1 March 2010.
235 See fn. 233.
236 "Woman burnt to death in Dhanusha", Suresh Yadav, myre-, 12 April 2009.
237 Bhaktapur residents beat the three teenagers to death after
accusing them of attempting to kidnap a child. "Kin receive
lynching victims' bodies", Republica, 18 August2009. On the
spate of lynchings in early 2009 see: "Innocent", Himalayan
Times editorial, 28 April 2009.
which suggests some foresight.238 But it has been hard for
all state security forces to adapt to the changed post-
conflict circumstances - especially as no one felt they had
lost the war.
The police were expected to switch back to "normal"
policing but had been severely undermined by being sidelined during the conflict; they also had to cope with the
YCL's parallel policing activities. The APF was setup as
a counter-insurgency force and also as a counterbalance
to an unbiddable army; their numbers have been boosted
but their peacetime role remains unclear. The army,
which enjoyed real power from 2001 to 2006, feels its legitimacy is undented and is determined to oppose the
Maoists' political aims. It has survived the loss of its
guiding institution, the monarchy, but still clings to the
idea ofthe unitary, Hindu state.
For the Maoists, the transition has thrown up different
challenges. Maoist militias had taken on significant policing roles during the conflict. Many of these were initially
retained by the YCL but it has been trying to step back
from the parallel functions which contravene the peace
agreements. The PLA was at the sharpest end ofthe war
and suffered significant losses. Nevertheless, during the
fighting it had a clear sense of purpose and a comforting
self-image of revolutionary sacrifice. Confined to cantonments and sidelined, its future remains uncertain.239
1.    A tiger with no claws
"Now people aren 't afraid of us. We 're like a tiger with
no claws"240
Many ofthe challenges facing policing are widely accepted, although often loosely defined. Law and order is
The CPA specifically mandates the Nepal Police and APF
with "maintaining lawful arrangements and peace and order as
well as that of criminal investigation in line with [... ] the prevailing laws". CPA, Article 5.1.6. Various other agreements
also address law and order during the transition. The December
2007 23-point agreement by the seven parties' top leaders notes
that "effective provisions forthe maintenance of law and order
situation in the country [... ] shall be [among] the top priorities
ofthe interim government". 23-point agreement, 23 December
2007, Article 16. The Interim Constitution elaborates: "It shall
be the objective of the State to maintain law and order and
peace [...] while maintaining a system where people can reap
the benefits of democracy". Interim Constitution, Article 34(2).
239 No progress has been made on the issue of integrating the
PLA into the National Army. The issue is closely linked to public security, which many see as the most urgent problem. Both
sides have become deeply reluctant to enact the compromises that
were part ofthe peace agreement by moving towards integration
which will be essential to eventually tackling public order issues.
240 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
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weak - although the sense of continual deterioration conveyed by many media reports is not reflected in statistics.241
Nor does it necessarily represent public perceptions.242
The transitional situation has politicised policing - from
policy decisions, promotions and transfers to pressure to
release suspects or drop cases. But it is far more complex
than most accounts make out (see below) and there is no
quick-fix solution.
The civil police depend on close working relations with
local populations. They need information; they also need
to be accessible. But engagement with communities presents challenges. "People are much more aware now:
they'll come from the villages to enquire about their cases",
observed one district police chief. "That's a good thing
and we should welcome it. But there is pressure: people
and parties demand instant action and have no patience to
let us work at our own pace".243 The pressure generated
by the public's impatience is widely felt.244 Even when
the police do deal with cases efficiently, the judicial process
offers little support for victims.245
Police officers feel they have lost control. While many
have called for community policing (there have been
241 See fn. 233.
242 Most people do feel safer than during the conflict. In one
large survey conducted in June and July 2009, 75 per cent of
the 3,004 respondents said they felt safer in their locality than
they had a year before. The survey suggests that perceived incidence of crime may be higher than actual incidence and shows
that perceived crime risks are significantly higher in the Tarai
than in hill districts. "Treading water? Security and justice in
Nepal in 2009", Interdisciplinary Analysts and Saferworld,
March 2010, pp. 21-22, 24. In May 2007, 70 per cent had responded that they felt safer than before the April 2006 people' s
movement. "Public safety and policing inNepal: An analysis of
public attitudes towards community safety and policing across
Nepal", Saferworld, January 2008, p. 7. The 2010 Himalmedia
survey cited earlier found that 64 per cent of respondents felt law
and order had improved; a majority of respondents believed that
extortion, political violence and organised crime had fallen (p. 33).
243 Crisis Group interview, Gulmi, 21 April 2009. The CDO of
the same district commented: "In a democracy people should
raise their voices - that's a good thing. It's because people
didn't get heard that they resorted to the people' s movement. If
we're transparent people will be patient. For example, post-
conflict compensation is taking a long time but people know
the process is happening".
244 For example, "People don't want us to implement the law in
any case. If there's a car accident and I promise to arrest the
driver, file a case and take it to court will they accept it? No -
they want instant action". Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23
April 2009.
245 "In prosecuting cases there's no support for the victim: getting a conviction does nothing for them. Victim support is key
to a better system. If a family loses a breadwinner convicting
the killer won't help them live - they can be reduced to begging". Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
some pilot programs but so far of limited scope and impact246), the overwhelming perspective of the police
themselves is that they have been hamstrung by losing the
ability to inspire fear and awe. "People used to be scared,
they wouldn't dare do anything anywhere near our barracks", complained one junior APF officer.247 As one of
his colleagues added, "People used to respect the police
and be scared of them; one constable could easily walk
round villages and instil some fear".248
Nepal imported its colonial-style policing model from
India, whose police force was modelled by the British raj
on the brutal police in Ireland. Their task was not community relations but the ruthless control of subject populations.249 Some officers familiar with India still envy the
discipline the Indian police can impose.250 Such sentiments lead easily to a sense of powerless frustration:
When the base was first established here people took
it seriously - there was a sense in town [Birgunj] that
one should think twice before causing trouble because
there's a whole armed battalion up the road. But now
people are happy to cause trouble right under our
noses and they've lost that fear. It won't be long before
they're burning tyres right outside our gate knowing
there's nothing we can do about it.251
Interdisciplinary Analysts and Saferworld found that only 9
per cent oftheir 3,004 survey respondents were aware ofthe
concept of community policing and only 42 out the 3,004 respondents said that community policing pilot programs had
taken place in their area. "Treading Water?", op. cit, p. 39.
247 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
248 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
249 "That the Nepal Police has borrowed heavily from the Indian
police system is common knowledge. What is less known
though is that the Indian police itself was the creation of the
British to expressly serve their interests in a colonised state.
When police reorganisation was taking place in India in the
mid-19th century, the British already had a model that had
worked well in another colonial situation - Ireland .... The
militarised structure ofthe Irish police was thus grafted onto a
force that was to work among civilians in India, and we
adopted the same system lock, stock and barrel when we set up
our own national police force back in the 1950s .... Not much
thought seems to have been given to whether policing would be
better served by letting loose on one's own people a quasi-
military police force modelled after one meant to keep a colonised population under check". Deepak Thapa, "Army of
cops", The Kathmandu Post, 4 February 2010.
250 For example, one APF junior officer complained: "Look
across the border - there are no problems there. There are no
bandas and even one unarmed police officer is enough to keep
people in line. Everyone obeys the police and is scared of them.
But here they beat up the police". Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
251 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
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In the words of one police chief in a relatively quiet and
trouble-free district, "The only people who obey me are
my men - no one else. Why should I pretend we're doing
a great job?"252
The police feel under attack and insecure. There have
been direct attacks on officers and police posts.253 The
KJWP attacked police, as did the Mongol Revenge
Group.254 The police bodyguard of the Parsa assistant
CDO was shot dead in an attack.255 Following a wave of
killings, abductions and other serious crime, the Banke
police chief claimed that he himself felt insecure256 - a
statement that aroused criticism from local observers.257
It is easier to sympathise with more junior officers and
constables. As one put it, "Look at what we have to put
up with. People swear at us, assault us ... which other police force in the world would put up with this? But we're
suffering it in silence".258
Human rights are often perceived as an obstacle: "And
now with human rights we're not allowed to do anything.
We have guns and lathis [long batons] but can't even use
them as a threat because it's no longer allowed".259 Some
also accuse the police of citing human rights constraints
as an excuse not to do their job - or even claim that sus-
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
253 Attacks on police are not uncommon. For example, "Six
months ago there was a scuffle between Limbuwans and police.
They took out their khukuris and chased the police off. That
was at the national convention ofthe Lingden group. The LPC
had previously agreed that no group would carry weapons.
Then an APF base was established six months ago. It was after
that that the patrolling stopped". Crisis Group interview, human
rights activist, Phidim, August 2009.
254The KJWP carried out two attacks on police posts in Khotang in 2008 and one in May 2010. See fn. 101. One police
officer was killed in the Mongol Revenge Group's February
2009 attack on a police post in Pyuthan. "Police reinforcements
sent to Syaulibang",, 7 February 2009;
"Mongol behind Pyuthan attack",, 12 February
255" Asst CDO attacked, bodyguard dead", Republica, 12 January 2010.
256 "Banke SP threatened", The Kathmandu Post, 15 February
257 A human rights activist said: "He is surrounded by armed
police! How can he say that? What kind of message does that
send? How are ordinary people supposed to feel safe?" Crisis
Group interview, Nepalgunj, February 2010.
258 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
259 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009. A civil society activist in Taplejung said: "Human rights have also made
things worse in some respects. It constrains the police and helps
the criminals". Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
pects have been released because of pressure from human
rights activists, when this is not the case at all.260
The police lack basic resources. They remain poorly
trained and equipped and relatively few compared to the
population and terrain.261 In many districts, post-conflict
reconstruction has hardly begun: a huge number of police
posts have been re-established across the countryside but
are operating from rented or borrowed accommodation.262
However, several officers reiterated that lack of personnel
or equipment was not their most pressing problem.263
The greater difficulty lies in the political and institutional
The police are part ofthe broader administrative framework and much of what they can or cannot do depends on
the stance of home ministry officials, in particular the chief
district officer. The CDO plays the main role in district
security. It is he who guides the police, gives the lead and
"The police have adopted a new strategy - they take money
from criminals but then say they were pressured by human
rights activists or janabadis to release them; that they had no
freedom of action". Crisis Group interview, human rights
activist, Nepalgunj, February 2010.
261 "We do need more manpower: I want to establish two more
posts but there's not enough resources; people ask for more police presence - some places are still seven, eight hours from the
nearest police post even though roads reach all VDCs. We now
need to send ten people to make an arrest where previously two
would have been enough so we are overstretched". Crisis
Group interview, Gulmi, 21 April 2009.
262 Crisis Group interviews, police officers and district administration officials, various districts, January-March 2010. A
police officer in Bhojpur said: "95 per cent of police posts are
in rented buildings or government buildings. There has been no
reconstruction". Crisis Group interview, January 2010. And
according to an officer in Taplejung: "Most posts are in rented
houses - out of 30 posts only ten are our own. The rest are
rented or donated". Crisis Group interview, February 2010. The
state of their buildings is often dismal: "This DPO [district police office] was attacked twice in the conflict and destroyed.
Look at our living quarters - it's pathetic, even prisoners in the
jail live more comfortably than my men... .The government is
obliged to look after us. We're on 24 hour duty and face the
toughest challenges but they don't care. They know we'll still
carry on our work so they're bullying us. This isn't a question
of morale, it's more basic than that. These are essential needs".
Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
263One police officer said, "All our police posts are in place:
twelve chaukis [posts], three APOs [area police office] and the
DPO. They're all staffed: yes, manpower is thin but it's not a
huge problem. There's no APF in the district". Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009. In some areas, however,
police recognise that additional numbers have helped. For example, "The govt has increased our manpower because of the
increasing threats - having more personnel transferred from the
west has helped a bit". Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5
April 2009.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 33
sets the tone.264 The CDO takes all important security decisions and is also a magistrate with significant powers,
including that of trying and jailing individuals under at
least three acts.265 The CDO's personality and administrative style affects the provision of security, as does the
critical relationship with the district police chief.
2.    Stepping back
Many police officers have responded to the difficult environment and their perceived loss of control by stepping
back and doing their best to avoid getting involved in any
tricky situations.266 This reluctance to take risks leads to
plenty of criticism; as one social worker in a restive Tarai
district put it, "The administration are just doing 'time-
pass'; they have no concern for law and order".267 It is a
line that many police officers cannot reject. One frustrated
district chief complained that "We're only managers - we
can't even imagine actually enforcing law and order".268
264 As of June 2010, all 75 CDOs were men.
265 The Public Security Act, 2018 (1962) gives the CDO authority to arrest and hold a person under preventive detention if
suspected to present a threat to national integrity and peace.
Arms and Ammunitions Act, 2019 (1962) and Some Public
(Crime and Punishment) Act, 2027 (1970) permit him to fine
and arrest people for illegal possession of arms and for disturbing public peace respectively. According to the Local Administration Act, 2028 (1971), the CDO can issue orders to open
fire and use force in case of civil unrest (see below). All of Nepal's laws, many also in English translation, are available on
the website ofthe Nepal Law Commission, a statutory government body:
266 On the local administration delegating decisions to all-party
committees see Section II.A. 1. Historically, the state has subcontracted its functions and delegated its authority to local
dignitaries. For example, subbas in the eastern hills were responsible for collecting taxes and were allowed to administer
justice, extract compulsory labour and raise small armies in
return. Philippe Sagant, The Dozing Shaman (Delhi, 1996), ch.
5. From 1861, jimidars in the Tarai had similar rights and responsibilities. See Mahesh C. Regmi, Landownership in Nepal
(Delhi, 1977), ch. 7.
267 Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April 2009. According to
a human rights activist in Siraha: "The police seems to be
rather passive. During the year about twelve people were abducted. Eleven were released on pressure of civil society, not
with the help of the police. The police seem to think that they
are not responsible. If Maoist cadres were abducted, their party
freed them at any cost, deploying the YCL and so on". Crisis
Group interview, October 2009.
268 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009. In the
words of another CDO, "The administration can only be a coordinator. Much depends on the style of decision-making: we
can't impose decisions unilaterally - people would reject that -
but if we reach decisions after full discussion in a wide group
people will respect it. If we invite people to listen to their point
Other officers offer even more brutal assessments. "Go and
ask people if I'm doing my job: a businessman, a college
girl, a farmer", challenged one District Superintendent of
Police (DSP). "They should all be able to say 'the police
are here for me' {meropulis chha) but go and ask: people
won't say that. People don't trust us, or obey us".269
Another said: "Ask anyone here 'is there rule of law in your
country?' and no one will say there is".270 The general
preference of all officers - not entirely new - is to encourage aggrieved parties to reach private compromises
rather than force the police to pursue formal proceedings:
"To be honest ... we've given up on everything apart
from pure crime. In other cases we encourage offenders
to reach settlements with victims to their mutual satisfaction, calling in party leaders if need be".271
The formulation and signing of a compromise agreement
(milapatra) is often the most that police can hope to
achieve. Districts where police rush to show the paper
commitments they have extracted from people clearly not
prepared to put their vows into practice are exhibiting
worrying trends. For decent and principled officers - of
whom there are more than critics suggest - there is no
pretending that this adds up to rule of law. As one says,
We now only do "patching management": we put a
patch over the problem but have no idea if it will be a
lasting solution or not. If we were to apply what we
know we should be doing for law and order neither the
community nor our bosses would digest it. We can't
pretend there's rule of law.272
When the best form of defence is inaction, the prospects
for rule of law are clearly poor. The lead given by ministers of all recent governments has been unambiguous:
there has been no action on impunity, no effort to pursue
even the most egregious crimes and no shame at the wilful
flouting ofthe rule of law by powerful institutions, in particular the Nepal Army.273
of view they also feel more responsible". Crisis Group interview, Syangja, 20 April 2009.
269 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
270 The officer, who studied in Indian universities, also commented: "Our laws are fine but they're just on paper: we're not
implementing them. Peace, law and order have only improved
in our reports - mine and yours. I have to write that or my boss
will be upset". Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April
271 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
272 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
273 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal: Peace and Justice, op. cit.
Since then there has been little progress either on the commissions (see fn. 28) or emblematic cases. For example, the Nepal
Army defied orders by the courts and Prime Minister Nepal to
hand over Major Niranjan Basnet - accused in relation to the
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3.    The politics of policing
In the post-election period, the catchphrase "politicisation
of crime and criminalisation of politics" has rapidly become
worn from overuse. Some crime is certainly enmeshed
with politics and politics does indeed have links to organised violence, corruption and other serious offences.274
But as discussed (see Section II.B), the structures in
which crime and politics intersect are complex - and
rarely as novel as they are presented.
That politicians expect to be able to pressure the police
and that such pressure is detrimental to policing and the
rule of law is beyond doubt. "The problem for us in rule
of law is from the political sector", complained one police
chief. "We're dealing with the criminal sector and can
take them on but handling the parties is more difficult".275
Another is even more blunt: "Now we have to think very
carefully before arresting anyone with the slightest political connection. We can hardly do anything".276 Small
incidents of public disorder can take on political overtones:
How does politics affect policing? Imagine: two people get together to commit a crime. Then the thieves
fall out and fight each other. One happens to be linked
to the UML, the other to the NC. So this will be labelled
a "UML-NC clash" and the parties will bring out
demonstrations in protest against one another. Or two
boys get in a fight over a girl in a disco and one hits
the other ... then it becomes ' YF attacks YCL".277
At the same time, the involvement of political parties can
be beneficial to police in allowing them to delegate responsibility for handling local conflicts. 'Yes, there's politicisation, though it's relatively polite", commented one DSP.
"The three parties and Janamorcha are strong and often
they sort things out among themselves. That's not a bad
thing: if they can keep the peace without bringing us in
then why not?"278 He explained in more detail how this
We're lucky with the CA members we have from this
district. They're both top-level and good. Also the district party leaders are good and they do help us in controlling the situation. There's no bitterness between
the parties; all the individual leaders are sensible and
death of Maina Sunuwar - to a civilian court and cleared him of
all blame after an internal investigation. "Army acquits Niranjan
Basnet; Claims UN violated norms", Republica, 14 July 2010.
274 On growing corruption in the police and action against SSP
and SPs see Navaraj Mainali, "Praharima karbahi", Drishti, 25
May 2010.
275 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
276 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
277 Ibid.
278 Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
cooperative .... This isn't how we're meant to work
but, for example, during the student union elections
the Maoists were causing trouble so I called the Maoist
CA member and asked him to sort it out. He sent the
district in-charge and the situation was resolved. This
is how we have to work.279
As a CDO pointed out, pressure is not always absolute
and can leave space for negotiation: "The main thing is
cooperation between the parties and a lack of interference
or pressure on us if we arrest people or take action - now
there is some pressure but we can talk to them".280
Furthermore, politicians do not always intervene in the
way their supporters would like. One district-level UML
leader complained that their appeals to UML Home Minister Bhim Rawal to have their cadres released following
clashes with the YCL were turned down.281 According to
a district NC leader, the UML had in fact unsuccessfully
pressured the police to open fire on the YCL.282
The police and district administration are all too aware of
their strengths and weaknesses. When policing is inherently
political, it makes sense to cultivate allies in the parties
and to avoid trouble by accepting the local balance of
power and working within it rather than confronting it.
There is no shortage of examples ofthe police and administration tacitly accepting Maoist assistance in districts
where they have a strong hold, or of allowing them to
take on quasi policing roles where convenient.283
4.    Crime-fighting, in-fighting
The different forces within the security sector should
have complementary roles, clearly demarcated responsibilities and good working relations.284
280 Crisis Group interview, Syangja, 20 April 2009. It is important to note that political pressure is applied even to the most
senior bureaucrats, notjust to officials in the districts. See retired Home Secretary Umeshprasad Mainali, "Karmacharitan-
tramathi rajnitik prahar", Kantipur, 28 April 2010.
281 Crisis Group interview, UML youth leader, Salyan, 20 February 2010.
282 The UML reportedly also wanted the CDO removed. Crisis
Group interview, Salyan, 21 February 2010.
283 Endorsement of this, no matter how illegal, is sometimes
more than tacit. For example, Maoist trade unionists could be
seen on the highway just before Butwal checking vehicle licenses together with police in February 2010. Crisis Group
284 In an ideal world, this suggestion by a junior APF officer
would be taken up: "Quick response teams would be a good
idea - with joint teams of NP, APF and district officials able to
sort out problems on the spot". Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
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Page 35
There are barely concealed tensions within the cabinet and
the home ministry.285 The army feels it has been sidelined
and that its mistreatment is at the root of insecurity;286 it
also has internal bad blood and management problems.287
The APF has experienced mutinies;288 its role is particularly ill-defined.289 The Nepal Police generally have the
toughest jobs under the worst conditions.290 Almost all
security personnel complain of inadequate budgets and
being ignored by donors who shower munificence on
other government agencies and NGOs.291
For example, one pro-UML weekly reported that the home
minister and home secretary were no longer on speaking terms.
"Grihamantri ra sachivbich bole hal banda", Drishti, 16 February 2010.
286 "In internal security the administration looks behind to check
if the police are there, the police look behind to check if the
armed police are there, and the armed police look behind for
the army. But we're not there, so naturally they're less confident And when the general public can see that the army and
government are busy fighting each other, it's no wonder that
people feel emboldened to break the law with impunity - they
know the state's in a mess". Crisis Group interview, senior
army officer, April 2009.
287 On NA tensions over mid-rank promotions, see Dipak Rijal,
"Sainik adhikritma charam asantosh", Nepal Samacharpatra,
15 April 2010. A front page article ofthe Janaastha weekly
reported a drunken argument between two major-generals
about the growing influence of officers from hill ethnic groups
in the upper ranks ofthe army. The fight at the NA headquarters' April 2010 new year party featured grave insults and
might have deteriorated into a fistfight if not for the interference ofthe generals' wives and friends." Jarnelharu shrimatika
kurama janginda", Janaastha, 21 April 2010.
288 In June 2008, junior officers in an APF barrack in Nepalgunj
beat up their senior officer, protesting against poor food and
accommodation. Another APF mutiny took place around the
same time in Parbat. "Sashastra prahari dvara bidroha", Nepal
Samacharpatra, 23 June 2008.
289 The APF was established in 2001 partly with the intent of
creating an armed force that would be under government
(rather than palace) control to counterbalance the army. On the
uneasy relationship between the parties and the army see
Prakash Nepali andPhanindra Subba, "Civil-Military Relations
and the Maoist Insurgency in Nepal", Small Wars and Insurgencies, 2005, Vol. 16, No. 1. Drawing on both NP and RNA
officers, it acquired a mixed ethos in which army models were
dominant. The comprehensive training for those from the police on military tactics was not matched by the little training on
policing provided to those from an army background. Crisis
Group interview, APF officer, September 2010.
290 Discriminatory rations provision to the three forces (in
which the police come off by far the worst) is a further grievance. Sagar Pandit, "Sena ra pulisma khanamai vibhed", Naya
Patrika, 13 January 2010.
291 As one DSP put it, "Foreign aid comes to everyone apart
from the police and army so we' re left out". Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
Relations between the different forces are resentful. The
army is contemptuous of the police, seeing them (often
rightly) as corrupt and politicised. The police feel they are
taking the blame for the army's misbehaviour during the
conflict: "There are some 800 disappeared and it's mainly
the army's fault. We killed people but in encounters, legitimately. And we carried out post-mortems and handed
over the bodies. Now it's time for the army officers to
have regrets".292 The police also sometime see the APF as
a waste of money and space.293 As forthe domestic intelligence agency, the National Investigation Department
(NID), it has long been seen as a black hole for home
ministers to dole out sinecures to loyal party supporters.294 This is not to mention the judiciary, which every
incoming chief justice ritually promises to reform by rooting out corruption and making it efficient and responsive.295
Given these tensions, it is impressive that the security
sector functions at all. But it is clear that the task of security sector reform, even if politicians grasp the nettle, will
not be straightforward.
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
293 Crisis Group interviews, Taplejung, February 2010; Lamjung, April 2009. "Who carried out the elections? Itwas us. We
set up the booths, we dealt with the public, helped bring people
safely to vote, coped with the temporary police, faced all the
problems", complained one police officer. "Ask the APF what
they did. Just putting a couple of people on a hill behind the
booth is nothing. But who even gave us a glass of water? Political leaders were eating rice and meat but we had nothing".
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
294 In a recent example, the Annapurna Post in a front page
story claims to have evidence that dozens of NID employees
bypassed application procedures and were directly appointed
by Home Minister Bhim Rawal, Home Secretary Govinda Kusum and NID chief Ashok Dev Bhatta in exchange for bribes
up to Rs. 1.2 million (approx. $15,000) per appointee. "Gup-
tacharbharna garda 12 lakhsamma lenden", 18 May 2010.
295 After his appointment in March 2010, current Chief Justice
Ram Prasad Shrestha admitted the judiciary's past efforts had
failed to yield significant results and vowed to "intensify the
(judiciary's) endeavours". "New CJ promises justice for all",
Republica, 29 March 2010. His predecessor Anup Raj Sharma,
after taking the oath of office in November 2009, had promised
to focus on "expediting pending cases in court by making it
mandatory for every single justice to take up at least three cases
a day". "Sharma recommended for CJ", Republica, 1 December
2009. Chief Justice MinBahadur Rayamajhi, appointed in May
2009, had vowed to tackle corruption by enforcing a new code
of conduct that would "address 99 per cent complaints against
judiciary and judges". "Parliament confirms Rayamajhee as
new Chief Justice",, 7 May 2009.
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5.    The cancer and the cure
The challenges of policing and the weakness of law enforcement demand a policy response. Indeed, the home
ministers of both the Maoist-led and UML-led governments have implemented a variety of "special" policies.
They have shown mixed results. None has been transparent,
leading some to suspect that the only "special" element is
secrecy. When pressed to explain Home Minister Rawal's
new special security plan (SSP), one seasoned police
chief explained that "actually there is nothing 'special'
about it - it's really just about ensuring rule of law and
doing those things that had lapsed during the conflict".296
The SSP certainly appeared to deliver some results, as
had previous Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam's early
2009 special strengthening program to boost policing in
the eastern Tarai and in the hills.297 "Over the last two to
three months we've strengthened policing, with more
personnel and more posts. Things aren't as bad as last
year", said one CDO in a district which has seen some of
the worst crime and political violence. "Even the statistics
will tell you there's been some improvement. And more
security forces mean more of a deterrent for criminals".298
However, none of these plans has attempted any systemic
reform of policing, let alone administrative methods and
cultures. Nor have they offered any serious alternative to
the structures of political involvement that impinge on
policing. "Strengthening" has often delivered extra personnel, particularly APF, without a clear plan for what to
do with them. Dramatic increases in the overall size of
the APF have exacerbated militarisation but the value of
additional armed units is often questioned.299 Despite initial positive reactions, most commentary on the SSP has
become negative, pointing out that high hopes failed to
materialise in practice.300
More than policy reform, police on the ground are crying
out for strategic direction and leadership. "We need an
all-party promise to pursue offenders and need an iron
home minister. Then nothing would be impossible: we
can enforce law and order", commented one police chief
at the time of the Maoist-led government. "If the home
minister could tighten up like Baburam Bhattarai has
done at finance things would be much better".301 Only a
strong belief that there is leadership and that senior officers and ministers will back up officers on the ground
will make the police feel safe in taking possibly controversial action: "What we need is political leadership -
someone to say 'do it' and then back us up. To break a
banda we may need to use force - who'll support us?"302
Ultimately, most security problems are manifestations of
a failure to deal with new demands and systemic challenges
stemming from entrenched political and institutional cultures.303 The police alone cannot tackle such problems. It
is unreasonable to expect them to perform beyond the
constraints set by their environment. The army, much as
its supporters cry ever more loudly for its deployment to
"bring the situation under control",304 is even less suited
to the task. Nepal's insecurity cannot be tackled by military means.
Crisis Group interview, February 2010.
297 "IGP unveils strategy to fight crime", Kantipur Report, 13
April 2009. For example an APF officer in a central Tarai district said in early April 2009: "The Border Outposts (BOPs) are
a new effort to control the border. That has channelled smugglers into limited areas and helped revenue collection". Crisis
Group interview, Pathlaiya. A journalist in Sunsari was more
critical: "There are the border security posts, but those are their
earning places. They collect money from smugglers. Like Rs.
10 per sack of fertiliser or cumin." Crisis Group interview,
September 2009.
298 Crisis Group interview, Kalaiya, 5 April 2009. A human
rights activist in Siraha said: "Overall things have improved
with the new Special Security Plan. But it is also often abused.
Three MMT [Jantantrik Madhesi Mukti Tiger] cadres have
been killed recently. We are investigating that incident. But
there are fewer strikes. The local administration seems active,
so people are scared. The security presence now is very good.
Twelve to fifteen basecamps were established, 40-43 police
posts, nine area police posts and the Border Security Force
presence increased. Now you find a police post every five
kilometres". Crisis Group interview, October 2009.
Crisis Group interview, senior police officers, Taplejung,
February 2010.
300 See "Santoshjanak bhaena vishesh suraksha karyakram",
Annapurna Post, 10 January 2010.
301 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009.
302 Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009. A colleague
of his added: "We need strong laws and true autonomy for the
security agencies - to implement the law without interference.
There should be clear laws and rules banning bandas on highways and setting out compensation for accidents, etc. - and
then they should be enforced". Crisis Group interview, Pathlaiya, 5 April 2009. In fact, such laws already exist. But they
are unenforceable without determined leadership and political
303 See Section III.
304"Chahinchha sakaratmak sainik hastakshep!", Punarjagaran,
18 May 2010. (Itself following on from front-page "Aba sam-
halne palo senako!", 27 April 2010.) On possible NA deployment see Section II.C. On NA's new PR efforts, Akanshya
Shah, "Army: PR & beyond", Republica, 6 January 2010.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 37
The state lies at the centre of many questions in the peace
process: How will it be restructured? What will happen to
it if it fails to deliver basic services and meet citizens'
heightened expectations? Might it be captured by the
Maoists? Is it fragile, failing or failed? Is it present or absent across the country? Can a state which struggles to
dispose of rubbish on the streets of its capital cope with
federalism, political violence and competing external
For parties in government, securing the state, their control
over it and ability to use its coercive force effectively is
critical. For those outside, the state may be the object of
desire but is also the source of potential repression and
the abstract body to be blamed for social, economic and
political ills. For donors and the development class, "state
building" and "state strengthening" have come into vogue
as the peace process has stuttered forward, throwing up
new challenges and underlining the state apparatus's
many existing weaknesses.
Little serious attention has been paid to the paradoxical
nature ofthe state in Nepal.306 For all its dysfunction it
"A necessary evil" is from Thomas Paine: "Society in every
state is a blessing but government even in its best state is but a
necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one". Thomas
Paine, Isaac Kramnick (ed.), Common Sense (London, 1986
[1776]), p. 65. Paine's "government", contrasted with "society", embraces the state as considered here. The borrowing of
this phrase is also intended as an indirect tribute to Saubhagya
Shah, whose untimely demise in December 2009 deprived Nepal's academia of one of its few original voices. See Saubhagya
Shah, "From Evil State to Civil Society", in Kanak Mani Dixit
and Shastri Ramachandaran (eds.), State of Nepal (Lalitpur, 2002).
306 Richard Burghart remains the primary point of reference for
most academics: "The Formation of the Concept of Nation-
State inNepal", Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 44, no. 1 (1984),
pp. 101-125. The other frequently cited reference is Andras
Hofer' s The Caste Hierarchy and the State in Nepal. A Study of
the Muluki Ain of 1854 (Innsbruck, 1979). Respected Nepali
social scientist Harka Gurung pointed out that nine ofthe contributors to the most significant volume on nationalism and
ethnicity in Nepal cite Burghart and eleven Hofer. Harka Gurung, "State and Society in Nepal", in David Gellner, Joanna
Pfaff-Czarnecka and John Whelpton (eds.), Nationalism and
Ethnicity in a Hindu Kingdom. The Politics of Culture in Contemporary Nepal (Amsterdam, 1997), pp. 495, 501. David
Gellner's edited volume Resistance and the State, op. cit, tells
us much about resistance but very little about the state. Much of
the development literature has applied externally developed
concepts rather than probing the nature ofthe Nepalese state.
Crisis Group's past reporting has also fallen short in this regard. Other work offers some insights such as Lionel Caplan's
ethnography Administration and Politics in a Nepalese town
(London, 1975); Mahesh Chandra Regmi's Imperial Gorkha:
has not collapsed; far from it. Despite its legacy of weak
delivery and limited representativeness, the state has
endured and survived ten years of conflict, a people's
movement and the transition to a republic. The state may
appear incapable but it remains the focus of demands
from groups who are all too aware that it has never responded to those demands and quite likely never will.
Both the reality and the ideal ofthe state retain a hold on
the political and public imagination.
The state is not as elusive as some make out. It has its
own rationales for existence and behaviour, among which
providing services to the public is at times marginal. This
neglect reflects how the state is constituted by its relations with different groups: its own servants, political
parties, elite constituencies, external powers and - last
and sometimes least - ordinary citizens.
1.    Not set in stone
The state was referred to by its founder Prithvinarayan
Shah and later Gorkha rulers as dhungo - a stone.307 This
nomenclature is misleading: the Nepalese state is a combination ofthe rigid and the pliable. Its resilience is based
more on flexibility than strength: it has a remarkable capacity to adapt, absorb, co-opt, negotiate - and thereby
endure. It is not monolithic. It has maintained much of its
institutional culture through different transitions.308
The Nepalese state has rarely, if ever, achieved the ideals
of sovereignty and authority.309 Its national sovereignty
has been threatened throughout its modern existence and
An Account ofGorkhali Rule in Kumaon (1791-1815) (Delhi,
1999);Bengt-ErikBorgstr6m, The Patron and the Pancha: Village Values and Panchayat Democracy in Nepal (New Delhi,
307 Harka Gurung criticises historian Mahesh Chandra Regmi's
rendition ofdhungo as the concept of loyalty to the state, noting
that Prithvinarayan Shah's Divyopadesh only mentions dhungo
twice, onboth occasions with negative connotations. "State and
Society in Nepal", op. cit, p. 500.
308 For example, as it expanded in size and scope in the early
years of Panchayat rule.
309 The Nepalese state defies many assumptions about states,
particularly as expressed by two typologies that emphasise sovereignty and authority. The seventeenth-century Westphalian
model established principles of territorial integrity and national
sovereignty; the twentieth-century sociologist Max Weber
articulated the most enduring definition of a state's internal authority: "The claim ofthe modem state to monopolize the use
of force is as essential to it as its character of compulsory jurisdiction and of continuous operation". Max Weber, Economy
and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, G Roth and
C. Wittich(eds.), (New York, 1968), p. 56, citedinDavid Gellner, "Introduction: Transformations ofthe Nepalese State", in
Gellner (ed.), Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences,
op. cit, p. 2.
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Page 38
has at many stages, including the present, been severely
compromised. It is subject to both outside political intervention in its internal affairs and dependence on donors
(see below). Internally, the state has rarely managed to
establish exclusive authority or to monopolise violence.310
State presence and capacity are hard to measure. In certain
quantifiable respects, its reach has diminished. During the
conflict, the Maoists' driving out ofthe civilian police
and elected local representatives was the most notable
shift (many other institutions, such as schools and health
posts, were kept in place but indirectly controlled and
taxed); during the post-ceasefire transition, the absence of
VDC secretaries and other local government officials, especially in the Tarai, has been similarly visible.311
Nevertheless, the state has remained the main channel for
resource distribution and the locus of political conflict.
The last local elections were in 1997 and local bodies
(VDCs and DDCs) were handed over to unelected officials in 2002. However, budgets still flow through these
structures and most are overseen by ad hoc or more formal multiparty mechanisms. At the same time, parastatal
or quasi-autonomous community bodies - such as school
management committees, forest user groups, electricity
Until the Panchayat it had not even sought such a monopoly:
Shahs and Ranas subcontracted the state's critical functions
(raising revenue and administering justice) to a variety of local
agents. See fn. 267. The developmentalist Panchayat state's record in extending its own authority through structural reforms
was impressive but incomplete. For example the land reforms
of the 1950s and 1960s ultimately changed little about the extremely uneven distribution of land but stamped state ownership
and authority over it. See Mahesh C. Regmi, Landownership in
Nepal (Delhi, 1977). Together with the older tenurial institutions, the state also abolished many ofthe functionary positions
to which it had previously delegated much formal authority.
See fn. 267. And despite the nationwide courts system, justice
often continued to be meted out by local communities in line
with customary norms and practices.
311 According to OCHA, only 32 per cent of VDC secretaries
were working from their respective VDCs in mid-2006. The
rest were mostly working from district headquarters. In early
2008,51 per cent ofthe secretaries were permanently present in
their VDCs; 41 per cent worked from outside, visiting occasionally (8 per cent ofthe posts were vacant). By late 2009 the
proportion of secretaries present in their VDCs was down at 42
per cent; 25 per cent worked from district headquarters and 14
per cent occasionally visited their VDCs. In 19 per cent ofthe
VDCs the secretaries were permanently absent or the position
was vacant. The reasons for low VDC secretary presences vary
by region. OCHA cites security concerns in the eastern and
central Tarai, points to "difficult terrain" in some mountain districts and provides no explanation for hill districts like Bhojpur,
Panchthar or Rukum. "VDC secretary presence inNepal: Note
on 2006, 2008 and 2009 surveys", OCHA Nepal, 2010, available at
and water consumer associations and the like - have kept
alive local political competition, with many positions
contested by de facto party candidates.
2.    Sovereign or subaltern?
In terms of conflict resolution and conflict risk, two constraints on Nepal's sovereignty are relevant: outside involvement in internal politics and the effects on the political
economy of aid dependency.
External engagement in Nepal's internal matters is longstanding and structural. There is, however, no need to
beat around the bush: in this context "external" means
Indian. No other state approaches India's level of engagement nor could any other state aspire to the same
quality of relationship, which is conditioned by history,
geography, culture and the myriad social, economic and
political ties which cross the open border.312
Indian involvement in Nepal's politics is transparently
interventionist, perhaps more visibly so and more widely
acknowledged (and resented) in the last year than at any
point since the 1950s. But at the same time it cannot simply
be described as external interference. First, this would
misrepresent the outlook of Indian officials, who have inherited the British and then Nehruvian view of Nepal as a not
Few other than the Maoists offer a serious critique of Nepal's compromised sovereignty. Still, the Maoists' repeated
"semi-feudal, semi-colonial" hook is not entirely inaccurate but
is shallow. Their critique has hardly developed beyond Baburam Bhattarai's 1986 doctoral thesis. In any case, the
UCPN(M) is now almost as desperate as other parties to bask in
attention from New Delhi and will pay little attention to Marxist analysis if India can ease its path back to power. The UML
was often critical of India when in opposition but has never
been more supine in power than now. The NC cannot forget its
Indian roots and, even as it has neglected relations with India's
Congress party since the 1970s, is comfortable in its subservience. Pro-palace politicians and parties are as keen to indulge
in anti-Indian rhetoric as they are hypocritical: most have conjugal, financial or residential ties to India; depend on Indian
largesse and patronage; or lust after recognition by India's
Hindu right. The Madhesi parties, as the MJF's Upendra Yadav
has discovered to his cost, rely even more directly on Indian
blessings for their financial and political wellbeing - although
they often play the relationship more cannily than their pahadi
counterparts. Nepal's journalists and academics have written
little that is worthwhile about Indian influence. Even those
writers who decline Indian officials' "friendly gifts" (cash,
laptops, etc.) are sensible enough not to be too frank in their
criticisms. Exceptions include Dipak Gyawali and Ajaya Dixit
on water resources, "Mahakali Impasse: A Futile Paradigm's
Bequested Travails", in Dhruba Kumar (ed.), Domestic Conflict
and Crisis of Governability in Nepal (Kathmandu, 2000).
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Page 39
fully sovereign extension of India's sphere of influence.313
Second, it obscures the important point that Indian involvement is actively sought, and accepted, by most politicians
and parties across the political spectrum. Any assessment
ofthe Nepalese state that does not take into account the
particularities of Nepal's compromised sovereignty would
be incomplete.314 India's role in shaping the peace process
was critical, as was its role in fostering the post-election
mess. Its policy may be murky and unaccountable but its
influence will not diminish.315
Equally central to understanding the state is the mixed
role of foreign aid.316 In differing proportions and under
different banners, aid has been a major component of state
expenditure since the early 1950s.317 Successive governments have all reaffirmed the need to keep aid flowing;
donors have become more sophisticated in shaping and
monitoring their contributions and outcomes. But aid is
still primarily money, and as such the lifeblood of political conflict and institutionalised corruption. Corruption is
a defining, structurally embedded feature ofthe polity. It
is facilitated when external aid fills the gap left by the
lack of a strong domestic tax base and related taxpayer
pressure for accountability. An important part ofthe administration's job is to manage the disjuncture between
donor expectations and societal expectations by providing
a semblance of regulation. The donor response for many
Rakesh Sood's interview (where he reveals how "dialogue"
with the Maoists is all him telling them what India wants): "It's
difficult to reconcile Maoist desire for better ties with ongoing
anti-India rhetoric", interview with Rakesh Sood, Republica, 29
April 2010.
314However, this report does not examine the ramifications of
Indian interests in detail.
315 With regard to the Maoists, India's policy is clear. It is worried about Chinese influence and will not accept Maoist political
dominance; nor, as a function of that, any reform ofthe security
sector including integration of Maoist combatants. See Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?, op. cit, pp.
316 The few Nepali or foreign writers who address this include
Devendra Raj Panday, Nepal's Failed Development: Reflections on the Mission and the Maladies (Kathmandu, 2009
[1999]); Nanda R. Shrestha, In the Name of Development: A
Reflection on Nepal (Lanham, Maryland, 1997); David Seddon,
Piers Blakie, John Cameron and David Seddon, Nepal in Crisis: Growth and Stagnation at the Periphery (Delhi, 1980);
David Seddon, Sally Westwood and Piers Blakie, Nepal - A
State of Poverty: The Political Economy of Population Growth
and Social Deprivation (Norwich, 1983); Charlie Pye Smith,
Travels in Nepal: The Sequestered Kingdom (London, 1990);
and Seira Tamang, "The Politics of 'Developing Nepali
Women'", in State of Nepal, op. cit.
317 On the establishment of an aid culture and the basic paradigms for donor engagement (inparticular, India and the U.S.),
see Eugene Mihaly, Foreign Aid and Politics in Nepal (Kathmandu, 2002 [1966]).
decades was to ignore the problem. Corruption has become
more of an issue for donors but even now few demand a
sufficient level of accountability and significant aid from
India and China is not transparent in any way.
3.    The state's servants
The state is embodied in its civil servants. For bureaucrats
and other state employees, its most critical function is to
pay their salaries and provide them with security. In this,
the state has a strong, but not unblemished, record. However embattled it was during the conflict and beyond, its
payroll did not shrink. Where it failed was in providing
basic security for its servants - a weakness that has become more acute during the transitional period.318
The institutionalisation of the modern state under the
Panchayat established practical imperatives, namely the
need to provide employment. For both civil servants and
the state, the very fact that they were employed was as
important as any services they provided. The rapidly expanding state ofthe 1960s and 1970s was the principle
employer in an economy that had almost no alternative
capacity to absorb the increasing numbers of people completing school or receiving degrees - as well as thousands
with few formal qualifications.319 The provision of secure
employment, whatever its ostensible purpose, was a bulwark against dissatisfaction and unrest. Although the
economy has diversified since 1990, with particular growth
At least four civil servants have been killed in 2010. VDC
secretaries appear particularly at risk: two were killed and at
least one abducted in the first six months of 2010. "Bara VDC
secy abducted", The Kathmandu Post, 26 Jan 2010; "VDC
Secy shot dead", The Kathmandu Post, 27 January 2010; "Colleague's killing riles VDC secys", The Kathmandu Post, 17
June 2010. VDC secretaries in districts across the country decided to resign over extortion and threats, most notably by the
newly formed Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha, during June,
July and August 2010. For example: "Secys resign en masse",, 18 June 2010; "Banke VDC secys quit en
masse", Republica, 21 June 2010. Civil servants in urban areas
are targeted as well. The assistant CDO of Parsa was attacked
and his bodyguard killed in Birgunj. "Parsa assistant CDO attacked", The Kathmandu Post, 12 January 2010. A DDC office
assistant was shot dead in Janakpur. "Govt employee shot dead
to avenge JTMM-R arrests", The Himalayan Times online, 11
June 2010.
319Particularly in small administrative towns, the civil service
became an extremely important source of employment. Caplan,
Administration and Politics in a Nepalese Town, op. cit; Seddon et al, Nepal in Crisis: Growth and Stagnation at the Periphery, op. cit. The majority of civil servants were employed
in the lowest pay grades. Ibid, pp. 111-116.
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in the service sector,320 providing jobs, and paying salaries
and pensions, remains the state's most critical function.
State salaries have never been sufficient to offer a decent
living.321 Corruption is therefore inevitable. Senior civil
servants pay high bribes for transfers to lucrative districts.322
This investment is recovered through corruption and
complicity in illegal activities. The politics of appointments, promotions and transfers generates an economy
that deals in cash as well as party and personal connections. Even without taking into account the state resources
creamed off by political parties, the administrative system
provides in itself strong incentives for graft.
Civil servants also embody the ideology ofthe state, carry
out other important functions and retain a degree of individual agency. CDOs and district police chiefs wield significant power and can shape local perceptions of the
state for better as well as for worse. Many of them have
served in several districts in very different parts of the
country and have a more immediate sense ofthe nation,
and the unitary state, than people in other lines of work.
For state administrators and the police, the transition has
been deeply unsettling. Most of those now at the level of
CDO or DSP started their careers under the Panchayat, in
a more certain world where social and political hierarchies were clearly defined and deference well entrenched.
Even the conflict offered a well ordered, if risky, scenario.
The transitional period has presented more complex challenges. For some, it has aroused nostalgia forthe war. "It
was easier in the conflict - at least we knew where we
stood", said one police officer who spent much of the
conflict doing intelligence work in the Maoist heartland
districts. "I often think it would have been better if one
side or the other had won decisively, then we wouldn't be
left in limbo as we are now".323
The service sector, which comprised 32.9 per cent of the
GDP in 1988, has grown steadily: in 1998 it comprised 37.6 per
cent and in 2008, almost half (49.6 per cent). "Nepal at a
glance", The World Bank, 2009, available at: http://devdata.
321 In the early Panchayat years, most civil servants would have
seen their salaries as a supplement to their own subsistence-
level agricultural production. With the decline in the proportion
ofthe population engaged in agriculture, large-scale migration
and urbanisation, and increasing consumerism and outlays on
private education and health, far fewer government employees
can now hope to cover their expenses by legitimate means.
322 District forestry officers are reported to pay between Rs. 1.5
and 2 million to staff in the Ministry for Forest and Soil Conservation for a posting in a Tarai district. "DFOs queue up for
Tarai transfers", The Himalayan Times, 15 March 2010.
323 Crisis Group interview, Nepal Police officer and former intelligence specialist, central region, April 2009.
The feeling of disorder and disintegration is a common
and deeply felt sentiment, perhaps more difficult to cope
with than the conflict itself. "This is the result ofthe conflict", said a police officer commenting on the clamour of
new demands and assertiveness by formerly marginalised
groups. "Everyone learned to stand up but no one knows
how to sit down - it's a total collapse of values (chhadapan
ho, chhadapan)"324 The state's representatives are not
purely conservative. "In ten years the Maoists spread
awareness and broke down many bad ways of thinking",
commented one senior official. "But where is something
new going to come from to replace the old?"325
The sense that political leaders have no clear vision for
how to handle the social transformations they have unleashed has accentuated a widespread unease. Given that
even the most enthusiastic proponents of federalism have
done little to flesh out what such a system will actually
look like, it is not surprising that few bureaucrats have
tried to envisage the changes it could bring to the way
they work.
4.    Political parties: can't live with them,
can't live without them
The state is locked into a mutually dependent and multi-
faceted relationship with the political parties. The parties
need the state to access resources, jobs and power; the
state needs the parties because they have become an almost
indispensable interface between the state and citizens.
The parties have colonised the state through their constituencies of loyal civil servants and, when in power, by ministerial fiat; the state has colonised the parties by becoming
their most dependable source of income and influence.
This intertwining of parties and state offers some ballast
against instability. As long as the parties need it, it will be
in their interests to keep the state functioning. Similarly,
the difficulty of reorienting the state to a partyless world
is the strongest bulwark against autocracy: as King Gyanendra learned, and as the army is also aware, brute
strength alone cannot challenge or replace the vast networks
of patronage and loyalty with which the parties encircle
the state. However, these stabilising factors also limit the
scope for reform and the capacity of citizens or policymakers to press for meaningful change.
The parties en masse have certainly captured the state.
While the 1990s can be read as the decay of democratic
ideals and collapse of Westminster-style democracy, they
can also be seen as a triumph ofthe parties in invading
and holding almost every powerful institution other than
Crisis Group interview, Arghakhanchi, 21 April 2009.
'Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
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the army. Perhaps not a successful democratisation of
Nepal but a comprehensive Nepalisation of democracy.
Parties inescapably function in some respects as shadow
states. People approach them to access services, to appeal
decisions, to take forward petitions, to press for development schemes, to complain about corruption or other
abuses, to intervene in disputes or to have people arrested
or released from custody. While most politicians act as
intermediaries, the more powerful leaders in effect usurp
state authority by becoming arbiters of matters that
should be in the hands of bureaucrats, police officers or
judges. The boundaries between the roles of politicians
and administrators have become increasingly blurred.
The politicisation ofthe state has rarely been carried out
shamefacedly or silently. Apart from the most egregious
cases of individual enrichment, it does not make sense for
politicians or parties to hide their activities. By demonstrating their hold over transfers, promotions, appointments and budgets, they build power. The pressures they
are under are tangible - be it to find a job for a loyal
cadre or transfer an unpopular CDO - and their responses
must be visible to be of value.
Still, the party politicisation ofthe state has not delivered
a monopoly for any one party. The NC's dominance of
government post-1990 did not leave it with exclusive
sway over the bureaucracy: apart from the UML, even
small parties such as the Janamorcha, the CPN(Marxist-
Leninist) and Nepal Workers and Peasants Party have
managed to retain pockets of support despite their almost
total absence from government at the national level.
Against this backdrop, fears of Maoist intent and possible
plans for state capture represent not so much moral outrage but concern that they will not be content with a share
ofthe spoils and will instead pursue a decisive monopoly.
"What is the Maoist strategy? Can we really be sure that
they're not out to seize power? Their behaviour doesn't
give us much reason to feel confident".326 As one district-
level Maoist leader responded:
How do you define state capture (satta kabfa)?321 Is it
fine for a tiny elite to capture power for centuries and
make all others suffer in silence? Why suddenly this
talk of capture of power? It's because parties naturally
326 Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
327 The Nepali term satta kabja encompasses a range of meanings: it can stand for both the Maoist goal of complete seizure
of state power (traditionally, in Marxist terms, in order to establish an interim dictatorship of the proletariat which will give
way to pure socialism) and the more temporary capture of state
resources by any party able to win elections or otherwise gain a
hold over the state bureaucracy and resources - whether at the
national or local level, but normally the former.
represent class interests and forthe first time our party
has brought the proletariat's interests to the fore so
others are scared. They'd all captured power in the
past but now use this phrase against us as if it were
something new.328
As in every other area ofthe transition, the critical question
is whether the Maoists will alter the patterns of state-
party relations or whether they will settle for a major role
within the existing system. The post-ceasefire evidence
points towards the latter, although their rhetoric and strategy still targets the former. Whatever the outcome, capture
ofthe state by political parties in one form or another is
here to stay.
5.    Ofthe people, by the people, for the people?
The state does not answer to ordinary citizens nor does it
see serving citizens as its principal duty. Nevertheless,
popular aspirations are often focused on the state, in spite
of its demonstrated incapacity to fulfil them. But expectations are tempered by citizens' experience ofthe state's
That popular expectations directly pressure the state and
political parties to "deliver" is a core assumption of most
donors and political analysts. It is not a new hypothesis:
addressing a "revolution of rising expectations" was a
founding plank of the first major aid programs in the
1950s.329 But it is too often accepted unthinkingly. Development is often not the win-win game its proponents assume. Progress can imply social and cultural change,
challenges to elite interests and other redistributions of
The state's miniscule income tax base means that few
citizens are tied to the state by the strongest form of obligation - direct taxation. This affects rights-based approaches:
Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 24 April 2009.
329 See Mihaly, op. cit, p. 3: "Economic assistance came into
use as a political device largely because of an idea ... that the
underdeveloped countries are being swept by a 'revolution of
rising expectations'. According to this view the peoples of
these countries are no longer passive in the face of poverty and
misery but are demanding a better life.... The concept of rising
expectations has been so widely assumed to represent historical
fact that it has escaped rigorous examination. Does the revolution in fact exist?"
330 See Mihaly, op. cit, p. 4: "What was the relationship, moreover, between expectation of a better life and the willingness to
experience change? ... Is it not possible that men may want to
improve their lot but are not prepared to pay a piece in terms of
changes in position, privileges, and traditional modes of living?
How important is this unwillingness to pay the price of change?
How pervasive is it? And to what extent has it actually reduced
the efficacy of aid?"
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NGO-sponsored rights movements are quite different in
nature to those that base their claims on assertions of power
or demands for representation in return for taxation. The
fundamental transformations in economic power relations
that might give substance to such demands are yet to take
place. In contrast, there is a strong trend of opting out.
The working aim for economic migration; the elites' capital and offspring can be easily shifted around the globe.
Those who can afford it do not depend on the state to
provide education, health and other basic services.
Still, the state's history of unresponsiveness and weak capacity has not reduced its centrality to many demands.
These may be channelled through political parties or take
the form of individual or joint petitions made directly to
those with the perceived power to intervene. Infrequent
waves of mass protest have highlighted the sporadic and
capricious nature ofthe occasions when the state has been
forced to give in to public pressure. Even those who have
been shabbily treated by the authorities throughout their
lives often cling to the demand, and the hope, that the
state must respond to their needs.331 In this there is perhaps a conscious distinction between the state as an ideal
(the rafya, with its hints at the just and contented Ramra-
jya ofthe Ramayana) and the fickle and selfish behaviour
of its human incarnation as the administration (prashasan).
There is no direct relationship between the aspirations
focused on the state and the state's compulsion to act.
Dissatisfied citizens will not force change as long as they
act within the system. It is only through more serious
pressure tactics, in particular if they disrupt the influx and
distribution of rents, that the state may be forced to take
clashes over wages and land but not any more. Most of
the farm labourers went abroad and are earning well".332
It is possible that patterns of political support are moving
away from some ofthe earlier certainties of overlapping
kinship and party networks.333
It may seem premature but it is important to consider the
potentially dramatic changes that federalism will bring.
Apart from the transition from monarchy to republic - more
earth-shattering in prospect than retrospect - federalism is
the one radical change that the Maoists may yet deliver,
albeit not according to their original plans.334 As the likelihood of other restructuring recedes, federalism will assume
more importance for parties seeking to deliver change,
just as it will prompt a backlash from critics and groups
who feel it threatens their interests.
Federalism will necessarily increase local accountability
in one respect: it will reduce the role of Kathmandu.335
While major fiscal questions will almost certainly be decided by the central government or inter-state mechanisms,
there will be significant devolution of spending powers,
and therefore of both political debate and competition for
contracts and commissions. Police controlled by state
governments will be more readily held accountable for
public security in the areas where they are operating.
However, there is no guarantee that state capitals will not
become mini-Kathmandus in their own way: federalism
does not equate to decentralisation. There is every reason
to suspect that the political and administrative cultures of
the current unitary state will form the template for those
developed by new sub-national states. Political considerations will likely be more intense and immediate. For exam-
C. Resilience and Resistance
1.    Pressures and prospects for transformation
Remarkable social and economic transformation is taking
place, but much of it beyond state control or without any
conscious political direction. Economic migration is not
only a useful pressure valve that reduces the tension of
unemployment. It is also, slowly but surely, altering longstanding economic hierarchies and offering new openings
for social mobility, even if at high cost to many exploited
and underpaid workers. As a human rights activist in
Dhanusha observed: "Ten or twelve years ago there were
An extreme example is the landless squatters, sukumbasis.
Living in the most abject conditions and with their aspirations
repeatedly disregarded by every party or government administrator, they nevertheless insisted on petitioning for attention and
services they had never received nor, sadly, might reasonably
hope to receive. Crisis Group interviews, Dudejhari/Baliya,
Kailali, 26 February 2010.
Crisis Group interview, 15 October 2009.
333 Philippe Ramirez's political ethnography of Gulmi and Arghakhanchi describes a solid connectionbetween family/lineage
and party affiliation. Philippe Ramirez, De la disparition des
chefs (Paris, 2000). It may well have been accurate at the time
but party loyalty appears to have become more fluid in the last
two decades. See, for example, the differing accounts of shifting
party support in the CA elections described by social anthropologists in Gellner (ed.), Views from the Field (Kathmandu,
2008). On voter motivation in the 2008 elections, see also
Sudhindra Sharma and Bal Krishna Khadka, "The reason why",
The Kathmandu Post, 5 March 2010. (This article is based on
their survey whose results have been disseminated in the media.)
334Federalism is seen as an important next step: "It is essential
to move forward; to give people confidence. We can't take it
back. If parties move against it they'll be seen as traitors". Crisis Group interview, Maoist Tharu leader, Nepalgunj, February
335 A preliminary draft grants significant powers to the provincial governments, including in the areas of policing and taxation.
"Report on Concept Paper and Preliminary Draft", Constituent
Assembly, Restructuring ofthe State and Distribution of State
Power Committee, Government of Nepal, January 2010.
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pie, a Limbuwan police chief appointed by a Limbuwan
state government and accountable to a state assembly will
find it very hard to step back from internal politics or to
resist pressure from powerful local parties.
Federalism will bring some significant changes to district
administration, and possibly to local government structures. Will future CDOs or their successors only be drawn
from within states? Will the sense of a national administrative cadre with Mechi-to-Mahakali (the easternmost to
the westernmost administrative zone) experience be destroyed? Can the ideal of CDOs being impartial and above
local politics be maintained or will they get dragged into
local disputes? Or will the transition to federalism only
demonstrate that these supposed strengths ofthe existing
system are illusory and will, at worst, be translated into a
more local format?
The current pressure for dramatic reform appears to be
more intense than in past transitions. Public awareness
has never been so high, nor has the state faced either a rebel party as powerful as the Maoists or as wide-ranging a
challenge to its ideology and elite interests. But strong
political and administrative cultures are both an impediment to productive change and a guard against extreme
upheaval. In the past, rebels have been incorporated into
state structures with mutual accommodation; existing
elites have been eased out of primacy without being brutally discarded. Change within the rules of the game is
always possible and generally acceptable. A change to the
game itself would be more unsettling and less predictable.
2.    The demand for dysfunction
It is a truism that the state ought to reform, become more
transparent, responsive and accountable, and deliver basic
services more reliably. The failure to do so is often blamed
on the legacy ofthe conflict and lack of political will. But
the difficulties run deeper. State dysfunction is systemic
and logical: it rests on an interlocking set of incentives
which reward poor performance and penalise improvement.
Many people benefit from the state's poor service delivery;
indeed, some industries and occupations are predicated on
it. Ifthe state suddenly fulfilled its promise to deliver decent education and health care, most ofthe approximately
12,000 private schools336 and nearly 150 private hospitals
Out of approximately 32,000 schools in Nepal, almost
12,000 were privately ran in 2009. These private schools accounted for 15.5 per cent of student enrolment, and employed
around 27 per cent of teachers out of a total of almost 240,000.
"Flash 1 Report 2009-10", Department of Education, Government of Nepal.
would be out of business.337 If road transport became
more reliable and less banda-afRicted, the private domestic airlines would see a collapse in sales. If there were full
employment in Nepal, the lucrative commissions of manpower agents and their party intermediaries would vanish.
With uninterrupted urban electricity and water, the lure of
gated communities with dedicated facilities would fade.
With decent basic policing, the sizeable private security
industry would see its market shrink.338
If government services were freely available to all without shortage or obstruction, there would be no incentive
to bribe officials - and one ofthe main means for underpaid civil servants to boost their salaries would be cut off.
The value of politicians as intermediaries to help their
clients secure access (be it to hospital beds, to get a passport, or any other official work) would be severely undermined. Cynics would argue that parties thrive on large
numbers of unemployed, underemployed and poor people
- to fill their rallies and sign up as followers for minimal
inducements. This is not to mention the vast aid and NGO
sector, which needs state dysfunction for its raison d'etre.
In short, large sections of Nepal's economy and political
system rest on the solid foundation of state non-delivery
and would be greatly disturbed by a dramatic improvement in efficiency.339 Instead, the best action is inaction:
delegate decisions, stall on difficult choices and where at
all possible do nothing.340
By 2008 there were 147 private hospitals with 4,810 beds
compared to 96 public ones with 6,944 beds. "Overview of
Public-Private Mix in Health Care Service Delivery in Nepal",
Health Sector Reform Support Program, Government of Nepal,
June 2010. There are an additional 7,500 beds in the fifteen
private medical colleges around the country. Of an estimated
8,000 doctors in Nepal, only 1,041 work for the Ministry of
Health and Population. The dominant role ofthe private sector
is also visible in specialised care. For instance, while there are
100 private centres for HIV patients, the public sector runs only
68. Similarly, the private sector accounted for nearly half (44.4
per cent) of the voluntary contraception surgery services provided in 2006/2007. Ibid.
338 In 2009 there were close to 700 registered private security
companies inNepal, employing approximately 25,000 people.
Ayushma K.C, "Private Security Companies", The Nepali Security Sector: An Almanac (Geneva/Pecs, 2009), p. 225. This is
roughly equivalent to the total APF personnel. Govinda Thapa,
"Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force", op. cit, p. 155.
339This is systemic but also visible at the micro level: for
example, if a teacher covers the whole syllabus in class in a
government school and leaves the students well prepared for
exams, what then would be the incentive for some of them to
pay for private tuition on the side?
340 For example, "If I catch a thief I could get in big trouble
with the parties but if I catch none will my salary be stopped?
No - so why should I arrest anyone? Better to do namaskar to
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Grand schemes to transform the state and its functioning
assume both that the principal actors want change (but
have simply failed to come up with ideas of how to
achieve it) and that reform can be achieved without any
radical reshaping of incentives.341 But even the best designed institutions or models are likely to be co-opted and
reshaped by the forces that sustain existing patterns of
corruption and non-delivery. At times, there is an almost
wilful blindness to experience. For example, the sensible-
sounding proposal to establish an independent police service
commission to counter political interference in appointments and promotions has not confronted the reality of
the longstanding public service commission, which has
done nothing to block parties from exerting huge influence in the civil service.
The bodies that in theory should act as a check on the
state and the executive have historically been very weak,
and perhaps even deliberately weakened. The Commission forthe Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA),
the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the
independent judiciary add up to a powerful set of institutions on paper. In practice, their ability to enforce their
mandates and redress abuses of power has been extremely
constrained. The pattern of ineffectiveness is so sustained
that it can hardly be seen as an aberration. It is the norm,
whereas the stated norms are in fact largely unattainable.
The state may indeed have to reform. But as long as the
demand for dysfunction remains high, the state is well
placed to offer an unlimited supply.
3.    More flexible than fragile
The state may be unlikely to change dramatically, but it is
also unlikely to fall apart. When presented with the manifest contradictions detailed above, it is easy to resort to
terming the state "fragile" or "failing" - or even on the
verge of being declared "failed".342
everyone". Crisis Group interview, Lamjung, 23 April 2009.
Dor Bahadur Bista's analysis in Fatalism and Development
(Patna, 1999[1991]) still resonates: "From the fatalistic perspective, there is no free will or choice in decision-making, nor
in how an event will unfold" (p. 83).
341 On weak "elite incentives to create effective public institutions" see: "An Upside-down View of Governance", Institute
of Development Studies, University of Sussex, April 2010, p.
19. Among the global factors stressed in the report only international aid plays a major role in Nepal; but the basic idea of
elite incentives to maintain dysfunction is still applicable.
342 Crisis Group has used similar terms to describe the peace
process (most prominently in the titles Nepal's Fragile Peace
Process, op. cit, and Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, op. cit.)
and has stated, for example "The state has not failed. However,
For international development experts these terms are
carefully, albeit variously, defined categories that take
into account multiple factors.343 Nevertheless, they fail to
capture the paradox ofthe Nepalese state. "Fragile" implies a brittle friability; what we see instead is a resilient
flexibility. "Failing" implies falling short of definable
targets to achieve or sustain legitimacy; but the Nepalese
state appears to derive its legitimacy, and secure its longevity, from elsewhere.
Models of democratisation or peacebuilding fail to capture the complexities of Nepal's politics.344 The concept
of "political settlement" is perhaps more useful, in that it
recognises that the unwritten contracts between elites are
often more important than the words on the page in constitutions or peace deals.345 The links between fragility
and conflict risk are significant. But the nature of Nepal's
state does not fall neatly into any paradigm of political
transformation. Much work remains to be done in understanding Nepal's existing political processes.
it lacks capacity and legitimacy", Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Peace Process: In Whose Hands?, op. cit, p. 32.
343 Most definitions of state fragility or failure consider service
delivery and government control. For example the OECD defines those states as fragile in which "governments and state
structures lack capacity and/or political will to deliver safety
and security, good governance, and poverty reduction to their
citizens". "Concepts and Dilemmas of State Building in Fragile
Situations From Fragility to Resilience", OECD, 2008. The
Failed State Index, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and
The Fund for Peace, uses twelve indicators to measure instability, including the deterioration of public services and the de-
legitimisation ofthe state. The 2010 index ranked Nepal the
26th most unstable country. "The Failed State Index 2010",
available at
344 Recent state building literature has acknowledged that forms
of legitimation differ according to country and context. See,
for example, Alan Whaites, "States in Development: Understanding State-building", DFID working paper, Governance
and Social Development Group, Policy and Research Division,
Department for International Development, London, 2008;
Alina Rocha Menocal, '"State-building for Peace': navigating
an arena of contradictions", Overseas Development Institute
Briefing Paper, August 2009; "The State's Legitimacy in Fragile
Situations: Unpacking Complexity", OECD, 2010; "Building
Peaceful States and Societies", Department for International
Development, London, 2010; "An Upside-down View of Governance", IDS, op. cit.
345 Whaites explains the need to understand the unwritten elite
understandings and compromises that comprise a viable "political settlement" - which may be quite different to the content
of formal peace agreements or constitutional arrangements.
Whaites, "States in Development: Understanding State-
building", op. cit.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 45
States have always generated discontent and rebellion.
Nepal is no exception.346 Still, it is important to understand why the state seems to survive such resistance, and
at times even to thrive on it. It is remarkable how few rebellions seriously challenge the fundamentals ofthe state
or threaten its raison d'etre. The state may not always be
accepted but it can still set the terms of revolt.347 Under
most circumstances the state adjusts to the people and the
people adjust to the state - however much this may generate mutual resentment and dissatisfaction.
Nepal is experiencing neither revolution, nor anarchy, nor
chaos. It is in the midst of a complex rite of passage.
In Nepal, the word sanskar means "rite of passage". It is
an ancient concept but one which is very much alive for
Hindus, Buddhists and all those influenced by them. But
the idea of sanskar is much wider than just rites of passage, although it is the only term that encompasses them.
It speaks of a much broader range of cultural values. And
it has generated the concept of rajnitik sanskar - loosely
translatable as "political culture" - which is ever-present
in the subconscious of all Nepali politicians and those seriously interested in politics. Nepal's rajnitik sanskar is
distinctive, developed and highly sophisticated. Political
activists at all levels use the term and have a broadly
shared understanding of what it encompasses. Deviation
from supposed democratic norms is in fact entirely in
keeping with well established, if unwritten, rules of political behaviour.348
Political leaders are often thought of as protagonists, exercising their power to decide and dispose. But in Nepal,
they prefer to assume the role of passive purohits [Hindu
priests] rather than active protagonists. They are custodians of values and practices but they reproduce the political
order more by repeating time-honoured formulas than by
creating or imposing their own. That they frequently appear
hapless, feckless and powerless is no surprise.
The Maoists were protagonists and probably still are -
and perhaps the only ones on the political stage. In a
landscape peopled with so few doers, the Maoists naturally achieve prominence as the only party that suggests it
might initiate and act. The rest prefer inaction. The Madhav
All sorts of people and groups resist the state and have done
since its inception. See David Gellner, "Introduction: Transformations of the Nepalese State", in Gellner (ed.), Resistance
and the State: Nepalese Experiences, op. cit.
347 The respected historian Prayag Raj Sharma has dismissed
janajati political movements and has, so far, been proved
wrong about his assertion that the monarchy is essential to
Nepalese statehood. But he accurately pinpoints that ethnic
movements have proposed no alternative conception of the
state, even though he wrongly insists that unless they start
afresh they will be irrelevant: "Whether they like it or not, only
the state such as we have it today is able to provide all of us
with an overarching sense of national identity. Sequestered ethnic groups, either singly or collectively, have nothing similar to
parallel it. If they try to invent something artificially so late in
the day, they cannot do it without first destroying the idea ofthe
state". Prayag Raj Sharma, "Nation-Building, Multi-Ethnicity,
and the Hindu State", in Gellner et al (eds.), op. cit, p. 482.
Nepal's politics has received surprisingly little attention
from ethnographers. Borgstrom (The Patron and the Pancha,
op. cit.) and Caplan (Administration and Politics, op. cit.) made
detailed studies in the Panchayat period. There is also Dor Bahadur Bista's polemic, Fatalism and Development: Nepal's
Struggle for Modernisation (Madras, 1991). The Maoist
movement has drawn the attention of social anthropologists,
leading to some valuable short contributions: Gellner (ed.),
Views from the Field, op. cit; Judith Pettigrew, "Guns, Kinship, and Fear: Maoists among the Tamu-Mai (Gurung)", in
Gellner (ed.), Resistance and the State: Nepalese Experiences,
op. cit; Anne De Sales, "The Kham Magar Country: Between
Ethnic Claims and Maoism", in Gellner (ed.), Resistance and
the State: Nepalese Experiences, op. cit; Shneiderman and Turin, "The Path to jan sarkar in Dolakha District: Towards an
Ethnography ofthe Maoist Movement", in Michael Hutt (ed.),
Himalayan 'people's war' (London, 2004). The only substantial work of political ethnography on party politics, Philippe
Ramirez's fascinating, if not flawless, De la disparition des
chefs, op. cit.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N°194, 29 September 2010 Page 46
Nepal-led government has pleased its supporters precisely
because it has achieved nothing. It has restored the comfort of a government that, like the state, exists in order to
exist, and whose primary functions are to keep its members in business and the money flowing to the rest ofthe
Ifthe Nepalese state depended solely on its capacity to
perform functions, it would long ago have failed and collapsed. Instead, the state is part of a larger political performance in which the indicators for success and failure
are harder to measure. What appears to be on show to the
public is not necessarily the substance of what is being
delivered. The institutions that supposedly govern political behaviour (be it parliament or the "independent" judiciary) are often detached from the systems that regulate
power struggles and relations (be they networks of patronage or the selective application of theoretically illegitimate
force and coercion).
In many ways, the rituals forthe Maoists' reincorporation
in the body politic had already been completed in 2005.
The people's movement was the final rite - necessary
mainly for legitimation and incidentally to force Gyanendra Shah to relinquish power. This is not to say it was
predictable. Indeed, the less predictable elements - in
particular, the Maoists' election victory - are those that
have shaped many subsequent developments. But the
need for the movement and the way in which it sealed the
Maoists' readmittance with a final ceremony was largely
Nevertheless, the impact ofthe Maoists is real. They still
hold out the possibility of more fundamental transformation and revolutionary change. While other new movements - be they ethnic, regional or ideology-based - have
more or less accepted the established political culture the
Maoists are not "just the same as the rest". The existential
threat they pose is not yet entirely extinguished. There are
still real conflicts being played out. The peace process is
not heading for a neat, logical conclusion.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 29 September 2010
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 47
The boundaries and names shown and the designations
used on this map do not imply official endorsement or
acceptance by the United Nations.
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Map No. 4304    UNITED NATIONS
January 2007 (Colour)
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Cartographic Section
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 48
ANNFSU All Nepal National Free Student Union
ANTFU All Nepal Federation of Trade Unions
ATMM Akhil Tarai Mukti Morcha
APF Armed Police Force
APO Area Police Office
BOP Border Outpost
CA Constituent Assembly
CBES Chure Bhawar Ekata Samaj
CDO Chief District Officer
CIAA Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority
CPA Comprehensive Peace Agreement
CPI(M) Communist Party of India (Maoist)
CPN(M) Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [Nb. in the past, CPN(M) was the name of what is now the
UCPN(M). Since January 2009, it is the name of a continuity CPN(M) led by Matrika Yadav]
CPN(MLM) Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)
CPN(Unified) Communist Party of Nepal (Unified)
DDC District Development Committee
DFID Department for International Development
DNYF Democratic National Youth Federation
DPO District Police Office
DSP Deputy Superintendent of Police
FDNF Federal Democratic National Front
FLSC(L) Federal Limbuwan State Council (Lingden)
FLSC(P) Federal Limbuwan State Council (Palungwa)
FLSC(R) Federal Limbuwan State Council (Revolutionary)
FIR First Information Report
IDA Interdisciplinary Analysts
IDP Internally Displaced Person
INSEC Informal Sector Service Centre
JTMM Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha
JTSC Joint Tharu Straggle Committee
KJWP Kirat Janabadi Workers Party
KRM Kirat Rastriya Morcha
KWP Kirat Workers Party
LPC Local Peace Committee
LV Limbuwan Volunteers
MJF Madhesi Janadhikar Forum
MJF(D) Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Democratic)
MMT Jantantrik Madhesi Mukti Tiger
MVK Madhesi Virus Killers
NA Nepalese Army
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 49
NC Nepali Congress
NDA Nepal Defence Army
NHRC National Human Rights Commission
NID National Investigation Department
NP Nepal Police
NPTF Nepal Peace Trust Fund
NRC Norwegian Refugee Council
NSP Nepal Sadbhavana Party
NSU Nepal Student Union
OHCHR Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (United Nations)
PAC Public Accounts Committee
PLA People' s Liberation Army
RJM Rastriya Janamorcha
RPP Rastriya Praj atantra Party
RPP-N Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal
RSVM Rashtravadi Swatantra Vidhyarthi Mandal
SJMMN Samyukta Jatiya Mukti Morcha Nepal
SJTMM Samyukta Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha
SP Superintendent Police
SSP Special Security Plan
SSP Senior Superintendent Police (Nepal Police)
STMM Samyukta Tarai Mukti Morcha
TASC Tharuhat Autonomous State Council
TKS Tharu Kalyankari Sabha
UCPN(M) United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
UML Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
UN OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (United Nations)
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNICEF United Nations Children's Fund
UNMIN United Nations Mission in Nepal
UNPFN United Nations Peace Fund for Nepal
VDC Village Development Committee
VDIS Voluntary Declaration of Income Scheme
YCL Young Communist League
YF Youth Force
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 50
The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with some
130 staff members on five continents, working through
field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and
resolve deadly conflict.
Crisis Group's approach is grounded in field research. Teams
of political analysts are located within or close by countries
at risk of outbreak, escalation or recurrence of violent conflict.
Based on information and assessments from the field, it produces analytical reports containing practical recommendations targeted at key international decision-takers. Crisis
Group also publishes CrisisWatch, a twelve-page monthly
bulletin, providing a succinct regular update on the state of
play in all the most significant situations of conflict or
potential conflict around the world.
Crisis Group's reports and briefing papers are distributed
widely by email and made available simultaneously on the
website, Crisis Group works closely
with governments and those who influence them, including
the media, to highlight its crisis analyses and to generate
support for its policy prescriptions.
The Crisis Group Board - which includes prominent figures
from the fields of politics, diplomacy, business and the
media - is directly involved in helping to bring the reports
and recommendations to the attention of senior policy-makers
around the world. Crisis Group is co-chaired by the former
European Commissioner for External Relations Christopher
Patten and former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Its
President and Chief Executive since July 2009 has been
Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal
Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
Crisis Group's international headquarters are in Brussels,
with major advocacy offices in Washington DC (where it is
based as a legal entity) and New York, a smaller one in
London and liaison presences in Moscow and Beijing.
The organisation currently operates nine regional offices
(in Bishkek, Bogota, Dakar, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta,
Nairobi, Pristina and Tbilisi) and has local field representation in fourteen additional locations (Baku, Bangkok,
Beirut, Bujumbura, Damascus, Dili, Jerusalem, Kabul,
Kathmandu, Kinshasa, Port-au-Prince, Pretoria, Sarajevo
and Seoul). Crisis Group currently covers some 60 areas of
actual or potential conflict across four continents. In Africa,
this includes Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic,
Chad, Cote d'lvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia,
Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan,
Uganda and Zimbabwe; in Asia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh,
Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Taiwan Strait, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; in Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia
and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia,
Russia (North Caucasus), Serbia and Turkey; in the Middle
East and North Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Gulf States, Iran,
Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria
and Yemen; and in Latin America and the Caribbean, Bolivia,
Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti and Venezuela.
Crisis Group receives financial support from a wide range of
governments, institutional foundations, and private sources.
The following governmental departments and agencies have
provided funding in recent years: Australian Agency for
International Development, Australian Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, Austrian Development Agency, Belgian
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Canadian International Development Agency, Canadian International Development and
Research Centre, Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Canada, Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royal Danish
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, European Commission, Finnish Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, German Federal
Foreign Office, Irish Aid, Japan International Cooperation
Agency, Principality of Liechtenstein, Luxembourg Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand Agency for International
Development, Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Swedish International Development Agency, Swedish
Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Swiss Federal Department of
Foreign Affairs, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United
Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs, United Kingdom
Department for International Development, United Kingdom
Economic and Social Research Council, U.S. Agency for
International Development.
The following institutional and private foundations have provided funding in recent years: Carnegie Corporation of New
York, The Charitable Foundation, Clifford Chance Foundation, Connect U.S. Fund, The Elders Foundation, William &
Flora Hewlett Foundation, Humanity United, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Jewish World Watch, Korea Foundation, John
D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Open Society
Institute, Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Ploughshares Fund,
Radcliffe Foundation, Sigrid Rausing Trust, Rockefeller
Brothers Fund and VIVA Trust.
September 2010
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 51
Central Asia
Turkmenistan after Niyazov, Asia Briefing
N°60, 12 February 2007.
Central Asia's Energy Risks, Asia Report
N°133, 24 May 2007 (also available in
Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty,
Asia Briefing N°67, 22 August 2007.
Political Murder in Central Asia: No Time
to End Uzbekistan's Isolation, Asia
Briefing N°76, 13 February 2008.
Kyrgyzstan: The Challenge of Judicial
Reform, Asia Report N° 150, 10 April
2008 (also available in Russian).
Kyrgyzstan: A Deceptive Calm, Asia
Briefing N°79, 14 August 2008 (also
available in Russian).
Tajikistan: On the Road to Failure, Asia
Report N°162, 12 February 2009.
Women and Radicalisation in Kyrgyzstan,
Asia Report N°176, 3 September 2009.
CentralAsia: Islamists in Prison, Asia
Briefing N°97,15 December 2009.
CentralAsia: Migrants and the Economic
Crisis, Asia Report N°183, 5 January
Kyrgyzstan: A Hollow Regime Collapses,
Asia Briefing N°102, 27 April 2010.
The Pogroms in Kyrgyzstan, Asia Report
N°193, 23 August 2010.
North East Asia
After the North Korean Nuclear Breakthrough: Compliance or Confrontation?,
Asia Briefing N°62, 30 April 2007 (also
available in Korean and Russian).
North Korea-Russia Relations: A Strained
Friendship, Asia Briefing N°71, 4
December 2007 (also available in
South Korea's Election: What to Expect
from President Lee, Asia Briefing N°73,
21 December 2007.
China's Thirst for Oil, Asia Report N° 15 3,
9 June 2008 (also available in Chinese).
South Korea's Elections: A Shift to the
Right, Asia Briefing N°77, 30 June 2008.
North Korea's Missile Launch: The Risks
ofOverreaction, Asia Briefing N°91,
31 March 2009.
China's Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping, Asia Report N°166, 17 April
2009 (also available in Chinese).
North Korea's Chemical and Biological
Weapons Programs, Asia Report N°167,
18 June 2009.
North Korea's Nuclear and Missile Programs, Asia Report N° 168, 18 June
North Korea: Getting Back to Talks, Asia
Report N°169, 18 June 2009.
China's Myanmar Dilemma, Asia Report
N°177, 14 September 2009 (also available in Chinese).
Shades of Red: China's Debate over North
Korea, Asia Report N°179, 2 November
2009 (also available in Chinese).
The Iran Nuclear Issue: The View from
Beijing, Asia Briefing N°100, 17 February 2010 (also available in Chinese).
North Korea under Tightening Sanctions,
Asia Briefing N° 101,15 March2010.
China's Myanmar Strategy: Elections,
Ethnic Politics and Economics, Asia
Briefing N°l 12,21 September 2010.
South Asia
Afghanistan's Endangered Compact, Asia
Briefing N°59, 29 January 2007.
Nepal's Constitutional Process, Asia Report
N°128, 26 February 2007 (also available
in Nepali).
Pakistan: Karachi's Madrasas and Violent
Extremism, Asia Report N° 130,29
March 2007.
Discord in Pakistan's Northern Areas, Asia
Report N° 131, 2 April 2007.
Nepal's Maoists: Purists or Pragmatists?,
Asia Report N° 132, 18 May 2007 (also
available in Nepali).
Sri Lanka's Muslims: Caught in the Crossfire, Asia Report N° 134, 29 May 2007.
Sri Lanka's Human Rights Crisis, Asia
Report N°135, 14 June 2007.
Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, Asia
Report N° 136, 9 July 2007 (also available in Nepali).
Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan, Asia Report N° 137, 31 July 2007.
Reforming Afghanistan's Police, Asia
Report N° 138, 30 August 2007.
Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, Asia
Briefing N°68, 28 September 2007 (also
available in Nepali).
Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in
Balochistan, Asia Briefing N°69,22
October 2007.
Sri Lanka: Sinhala Nationalism and the
Elusive Southern Consensus, Asia
Report N°141, 7 November 2007.
Winding Back Martial Law in Pakistan,
Asia Briefing N°70, 12 November 2007.
Nepal: Peace Postponed, Asia Briefing
N°72, 18 December 2007 (also available
in Nepali).
After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for
Pakistan, Asia Briefing N°74, 2 January
Afghanistan: The Need for International
Resolve, Asia Report N°145, 6 February
Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the
Damage, Asia Report N°146,20
February 2008.
Nepal's Election and Beyond, Asia Report
N°149, 2 April 2008 (also available in
Restoring Democracy in Bangladesh, Asia
Report N°151, 28 April 2008.
Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?,
Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008 (also
available in Nepali).
Nepal's New Political Landscape, Asia
Report N° 156, 3 July 2008 (also available in Nepali).
Reforming Pakistan's Police, Asia Report
N°157,14 July 2008.
Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of
Words?, Asia Report N° 158, 24 July
Sri Lanka's Eastern Province: Land,
Development, Conflict, Asia Report
N°159, 15 October 2008.
Reforming the Judiciary in Pakistan, Asia
Report N° 160,16 October 2008.
Bangladesh: Elections and Beyond, Asia
Briefing N°84, 11 December 2008.
Policing in Afghanistan: Still Searching for
a Strategy, Asia Briefing N°85, 18
December 2008.
Nepal's Faltering Peace Process, Asia
Report N°163,19 February 2009 (also
available in Nepali).
Afghanistan: New U.S. Administration,
New Directions, Asia Briefing N°89,
13 March 2009.
Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge,
Asia Report N° 164, 13 March 2009.
Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri
Lanka: Lessons from the Eastern Province, Asia Report N°165, 16 April 2009.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
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Pakistan's LDP Crisis: Challenges and
Opportunities, Asia Briefing N°93, 3
June 2009.
Afghanistan's Election Challenges, Asia
Report N° 171, 24 June 2009.
Sri Lanka's Judiciary: Politicised Courts,
Compromised Rights, Asia Report
N°172, 30 June 2009.
Nepal's Future: In Whose Hands?, Asia
Report N°173, 13 August 2009 (also
available in Nepali).
Afghanistan: What Now for Refugees?,
Asia Report N° 175, 31 August 2009.
Pakistan: Countering Militancy in FATA,
Asia Report N°178, 21 October 2009.
Afghanistan: Elections and the Crisis of
Governance, Asia Briefing N°96, 25
November 2009.
Bangladesh: Getting Police Reform on
Track, Asia Report N° 182, 11 December
Sri Lanka: A Bitter Peace, Asia Briefing
N°99, 11 January 2010.
Nepal: Peace and Justice, Asia Report
N°184, 14 January 2010.
Reforming Pakistan's Civil Service, Asia
Report N°185,16 February 2010.
The Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora after the
LTTE, Asia Report N° 186, 23 February
The Threat from Jamaat-ul Mujahideen
Bangladesh, Asia Report N° 187,1
March 2010.
A Force in Fragments: Reconstituting the
Afghan National Army, Asia Report
N°190, 12 May 2010.
War Crimes in Sri Lanka, Asia Report
Steps Towards Peace: Putting Kashmiris
First, Asia Briefing N°106, 3 June 2010.
Pakistan: The Worsening IDP Crisis, Asia
Briefing N°l 11, 16 September 2010.
South East Asia
Jihadism in Indonesia: Poso on the Edge,
Asia Report N°127, 24 January 2007
(also available in Indonesian).
Southern Thailand: The Impact ofthe
Coup, Asia Report N° 129, 15 March
2007 (also available in Thai).
Indonesia: How GAM Won in Aceh, Asia
Briefing N°61, 22 March 2007.
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Current
Status, Asia Briefing N°63, 3 May 2007.
Indonesia: Decentralisation and Local
Power Struggles in Maluku, Asia
Briefing N°64, 22 May 2007.
Timor-Leste's Parliamentary Elections,
Asia Briefing N°65, 12 June 2007.
Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on
the Conflict, Asia Briefing N°66, 19 July
2007 (also available in Indonesian).
Aceh: Post-Conflict Complications, Asia
Report N° 139, 4 October 2007 (also
available in Indonesian).
Southern Thailand: The Problem with
Paramilitaries, Asia Report N°140, 23
October 2007 (also available in Thai).
"Deradicalisation " and Indonesian
Prisons, Asia Report N°142, 19
November 2007 (also available in
Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia
Report N°143, 17 January 2008 (also
available in Tetum).
Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso,
Asia Briefing N°75, 22 January 2008.
Burma/Myanmar: After the Crackdown,
Asia Report N°144, 31 January 2008.
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Publishing
Industry, Asia Report N°147, 28 February 2008 (also available in Indonesian).
Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis, Asia
ReportN°148, 31 March2008.
The Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs.
Counter-terrorism in Mindanao, Asia
Report N°152, 14 May 2008.
Indonesia: Communal Tensions in Papua,
Asia Report N° 154, 16 June 2008 (also
available in Indonesian).
Indonesia: Implications ofthe Ahmadiyah
Decree, Asia Briefing N°78, 7 July 2008
(also available in Indonesian).
Thailand: Political Turmoil and the Southern Insurgency, Asia Briefing N°80, 28
August 2008 (also available in Thai).
Indonesia: Pre-election Anxieties in Aceh,
Asia Briefing N°81, 9 September 2008
(also available in Indonesian).
Thailand: Calming the Political Turmoil,
Asia Briefing N°82, 22 September 2008
(also available in Thai).
Burma/Myanmar After Nargis: Time to
Normalise Aid Relations, Asia Report
N°161,20 October 2008 (also available
in Chinese).
The Philippines: The Collapse of Peace in
Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°83,23
October 2008.
Local Election Disputes in Indonesia: The
Case of North Maluku, Asia Briefing
N°86, 22 January 2009.
Timor-Leste: No Time for Complacency,
Asia Briefing N°87, 09 February 2009.
The Philippines: Running in Place in
Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°88,16
February 2009.
Indonesia: Deep Distrust in Aceh as Elections Approach, Asia Briefing N°90, 23
March 2009.
Indonesia: Radicalisation ofthe "Palem-
bang Group", Asia Briefing N°92,20
May 2009.
Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand,
Asia Report N°170,22 June 2009 (also
available in Thai).
Indonesia: The Hotel Bombings, Asia
Briefing N°94,24 July 2009 (also available in Indonesian).
Myanmar: Towards the Elections, Asia
Report N°174, 20 August 2009.
Indonesia: Noordin Top's Support Base,
Asia Briefing N°95,27 August 2009.
Handing Back Responsibility to Timor-
Leste 's Police, Asia Report N°180, 3
December 2009.
Southern Thailand: Moving towards Political Solutions?, Asia Report N° 181, 8
December 2009 (also available in Thai).
The Philippines: After the Maguindanao
Massacre, Asia Briefing N°98,21
December 2009.
Radicalisation and Dialogue in Papua,
Asia Report N° 188, 11 March 2010.
Indonesia: Jihadi Surprise in Aceh, Asia
Report N°189, 20 April 2010.
Philippines: Pre-election Tensions in
Central Mindanao, Asia Briefing N°103,
4 May 2010.
Timor-Leste: Oecusse and the Indonesian
Border, Asia Briefing N°104, 20 May
The Myanmar Elections, Asia Briefing
N°105, 27 May 2010 (also available in
Bridging Thailand's Deep Divide, Asia
Report N° 192, 5 July 2010.
Indonesia: The Dark Side of Jama 'ah
Ansharut Tauhid (JAT), Asia Briefing
N°107,6 July 2010.
Indonesia: The Deepening Impasse in Papua,
Asia Briefing N°108, 3 August 2010.
Illicit Arms in Indonesia, Asia Briefing
N°109, 6 September 2010.
Managing Land Conflict in Timor-Leste, Asia
Briefing N°l 10, 9 September 2010.
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 53
Lord (Christopher) Patten
Former European Commissioner for External
Relations, Governor of Hong Kong and UK
Cabinet Minister; Chancellor of Oxford University
Thomas R Pickering
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia,
India, Israel, Jordan, El Salvador and Nigeria;
Vice Chairman of Hills & Company
Louise Arbour
Former UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the International
Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia
and Rwanda
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and
Ambassador to Turkey
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner to
the UK and Secretary General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui
Member of the Board, Petroplus Holdings,
Yoichi Funabashi
Editor in Chief, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan
Frank Giustra
President & CEO, Fiore Capital
Ghassan Salame
Dean, Paris School of International Affairs,
Sciences Po
Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
Par Sten back
Former Foreign Minister of Finland
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II
and to King Hussein, and Jordan Permanent
Representative to the UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of the
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Kofi Annan
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations;
Nobel Peace Prize (2001)
Nahum Barnea
Chief Columnist for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel
Samuel Berger
Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group LLC; Former
U.S. National Security Advisor
Emma Bonino
Vice President ofthe Senate; Former Minister
of International Trade and European Affairs
of Italy and European Commissioner for
Humanitarian Aid
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander,
Sheila Coronel
Toni Stabile, Professor of Practice in Investigative
Journalism; Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, Columbia University, U.S.
Jan Egeland
Director, Norwegian Institute of International
Affairs; Former UN Under-Secretary-General for
Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief
Mohamed ElBaradei
Director-General Emeritus, International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA); Nobel Peace Prize (2005)
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister of Denmark
Gareth Evans
President Emeritus of Crisis Group; Former
Foreign Affairs Minister of Australia
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Joschka Fischer
Former Foreign Minister of Germany
Dewi Fortuna Anwar
Director for Program and Research, The Habibie
Center, Jakarta; Former Assistant Minister/State
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Indonesia
Jean-Marie Guehenno
Arnold Saltzman Professor of Professional
Practice in International and Public Affairs,
Columbia University; Former UN Under-
Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
Carla Hills
Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and U.S.
Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign
Affairs Minister of Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria;
Chair, Institute for Inclusive Security; President,
Hunt Alternatives Fund
Mo Ibrahim
Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation;
Founder, Celtel International
Igor Ivanov
Former Foreign Affairs Minister of the Russian
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of
Religion or Belief; Chairperson, Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister ofthe Netherlands
Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Former International Secretary of International
PEN; Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Lord (Mark) Malloch-Brown
Former Administrator of the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and UN
Deputy Secretary-General
Lalit Mansingh
Former Foreign Secretary of India, Ambassador
to the U.S. and High Commissioner to the UK
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
President, Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, U.S.
Benjamin Mkapa
Former President of Tanzania
Moises Nairn
Senior Associate, International Economics
Program, Carnegie Endowment for International
Peace; former Editor in Chief, Foreign Policy
Ayo Obe
Legal Practitioner, Lagos, Nigeria
Giiler Sabanci
Chairperson, Sabanci Holding, Turkey
Javier Solana
Former EU High Representative for the Common
Foreign and Security Policy, NATO Secretary-
General and Foreign Affairs Minister of Spain
 Nepal's Political Rites of Passage
Crisis Group Asia Report N° 194, 29 September 2010
Page 54
Crisis Group's President's Council is a distinguished group of major individual and corporate donors providing
essential support, time and expertise to Crisis Group in delivering its core mission.
Canaccord Adams Limited
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Fares I. Fares
Mala Gaonkar
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Steve Killelea
George Landegger
Ford Nicholson
Statoil ASA
Harry Pokrant
Ian Telfer
Neil Woodyer
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises significant individual and corporate donors who contribute
their advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular basis.
Rita E. Hauser
Elliott Kulick
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Ed Bachrach
Stanley Bergman & Edward
Harry Bookey & Pamela
lara Lee & George Gund
John Ehara
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International Council of
Swedish Industry
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Zelmira Koch
Jean Manas
McKinsey & Company
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Yves OltramareAnna Luisa
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and Industry Inc.
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members who maintain an association with Crisis Group, and whose advice
and support are called on from time to time (to the extent consistent with any other office they may be holding at the time).
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Chairman Emeritus
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Todung Mulya Lubis
Allan J. MacEachen
Graga Machel
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Matthew McHugh
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Douglas Schoen
Christian Schwarz-Schilling
Michael Sohlman
Thorvald Stoltenberg
William O. Taylor
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Simone Veil
Shirley Williams
Grigory Yavlinski
Uta Zapf
Ernesto Zedillo


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