Maoists in Nepal :The Academic Bit
At the time of my visit to Nepal in October 2005, we were advised by Community Action Treks that there was a chance that we would be stopped by Maoists and asked for a “donation”.They advised that if this should happen we should not make a fuss, but hand over the money. (Usually £5-15.) Then, most probably, a receipt would be given and a note of “safe passage” for the rest of the trek. We should not worry, ”whilst you may feel a little anxious bear in mind that none of the trekkers has ever been harmed or threatened”. SCOTT.D.FREW. J. Information pack, Community Action Treks page14.
This was our experience, on our trek, (though we did end up paying £25 per person,) and we were able to produce our receipt to other Maoists and there were no further inroads on our finances.
Another Trekking Company gives a more recent confirmation that while tourists will be asked for “donations”, there is no evidence that foreign tourists have been hurt or harmed by Maoist activities. Maoist leaders have stated that they do not wish to disturb the tourist industry. Their main aim is the overthrow of “the corrupt and selfish politicians and the corrupt officials.” NEPAL ADVENTURE POINT. Frequently Asked Questions. Page2
However there have been reports from individual trekkers, who were trekking and camping alone, of being threatened and having articles, such as socks, stolen from them. There is no clear evidence of what took place in these instances. It may have been Maoists, or it may not. Nepalis have traditionally always been welcoming and honest hosts to tourists, but during this time of political unrest, it is probably unwise to travel alone.
While no tourists have been killed, there have been many skirmishes between the rebel Maoists and the Nepali army and police. Reports vary, but well over 1500 people have died as a result during the last few years. Nepal is a very mountainous country with very few roads. It is almost impossible to police and there are many country areas where the Maoists are in control. (Our trek took us through just such an area.)
The Maoist area we travelled through looked a little more prosperous and well organised than some other areas and local people seemed to be benefiting, but we were made aware of their precarious political situation by their appeals for spare binoculars to help them look out approaching soldiers or police.
At the time of my visit, Gyanendra, the Nepali king had disbanded his government on the pretext that they were not taking a firm enough stand against the Maoists. Since our return from Nepal at the beginning of November 2005 there have been further developments. Several general strikes took place and in April 2006 there were riots in Kathmandu, which lend to the Indian government intervening and international pressure being put on the king of Nepal to re-elect a government and allow the Maoists a place in the political scene. A new prime minister and government were set up, but several leading Maoists were arrested.
CHAUBE.K. (April 22, 2006) India tries to save the Nepal King while Nepal Maoists talk to Indian Communists for their next move. India Daily www.indiadaily.com/editorial8154.asp
MAYHEW .B. BROWN.L.VIVEQUIN.W. (2003) Nepal 6th edition. Lonely Planet Publications. Pp14,15,67,285,318.
NEPAL ADVENTURE POINT. (2007) Google Search :Maoists in Nepal. www.trekkingagency.com (accessed 30th November2007)
SCOTT. D. FREW. J. (2005) Information Pack Community Action Treks .p14