KATHMANDU, Nov 20: Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal reached Bardiya on Sunday to direct his party cadres to return land seized during the insurgency to their rightful owners, but returned Kathmandu without giving unambiguous directives to the cadres in this regard.
“Our objective is to implement the agreement between the political parties,” he said while speaking at a function held to announce the return of seized properties.
The Maoist chairman, however, added that the landless people should not be forcibly evicted.
“But the families who have been using the land should not be evicted forcibly. The land being used by them should not be seized,” he said.
Dahal was accompanied by UML leader Bamdev Gautam and NC leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula.
Dahal was of the opinion that the issue of seized land should be settled amicably after holding talks with the land grabbers. He asked the people to inform the party central office if problems persist while implementing the deal. The Maoist chairman reached the district as per deal on returning the seized properties reached between the parties on November 1.
As Dahal reached the district for the implementation of the peace deal, some expressed hope that their properties would be returned, while others still had doubts. “Dahal spoke diplomatic language once again. On the one hand, he says the peace deal should be implemented, but on the other adds that the seized land should not be vacated forcefully,” said Saroj Shrestha whose four bighas of land have been seized by the Maoists for a decade.
Before speaking at the function, Dahal had held separate discussions with the party´s district and state committee members.
According to the participants in the discussions, most of the cadres told that they cannot return the seized land which has already been distributed among the peasants. “How can we return the land that has already been distributed among the landless,” said Bardiya district secretary Durga Prasad Tharu.
Some of the party cadres had also threatened to retaliate if the properties were returned to the owners forcefully. Tharu said that the party has not seized private properties since 2006, and argued that such issues, therefore, should not be raised.
The UCPN (Maoist) has captured around 2,000 bighas of private and public land in Bardiya. According to the district administration office, 242 families have registered complaints about seizure of land by the Maoists.
Some civil servants were also confused about Dahal´s ambiguous directive. “If the seized properties are to be returned to the owners, the people who are using the land must be vacated,” said a civil servant.