Thirteen Years of Beni Attack:  System changed Pain remained

Amrit Baskune

March 20 completes a 13 years anniversary since Myagdi headquarter Beni was attacked by CPN Maoist. The Beni attack was one of the biggest, among the nine attacks in district headquarters, during the Maoist armed conflict in terms of armed force, intensity and comprehensivity. What must have been gone through the mind of those who survived to witness the attack and awake whole night fighting with death?.

The Beni attack by the Maoist is an unforgettable fearful past for the Beni dwellers. The armed conflict which was influenced by the philosophy of Chinese revolutionist Mao Tse Tung, with the statement of “Political power is born from the barrel of gun”, failed both in Battle and in Ballot. The will power of Maoist cadres, their ideologies and organization is destroyed which is similar to the destruction, killings and atrocities in Beni attack.

The Maoist revolution begin on February 13, 1996 by setting fire on Hey pile of Bhim Bahadur Baniya’s house in Pulachaur-8 and destruction of paddy field of Rudra Bahadur KC at Ghatan-6, Galeshwor. After that, Maoist cadres Dev Raj Subedi and Govinda Paudel were arrested by the police on May 18, 1996 on charge of carrying illegal weapons. They were later released by an appellate court order. Another cadre Min Bahadur Baniya, who was charged for public crime, was also released by a court order. In Myagdi, until 1996/97, the Maoist movement was almost nil.

In order to celebrate the fourth anniversary of their revolution, Maoist exploded bombs in the office of electricity authority and Agriculture Development Bank in the district headquarter on February 13, 1999. Similarly, there were series of explosions in Ruchi film hall. Maoist initiated attack on public and personal property. The attack on person by the Maoist cadres begun after Bhim Bahadur Khadka of Baranja VDC-2 was tortured by cutting his vein of his foot on charge of spying against Maoist on December 11, 1998. The police administration started to retaliate the attack of Maoist by arresting 10 Maoist cadres from Singha, Baranja and Babiyachaur on July 25, 1998.

In 1999, the fourth comprehensive Maoist meeting has started the strategy phase of defense with a slogan of “Let us move forward in a great path of building base area”. Police man Om Prakash Kunwar was killed in an ambush planted by the Maoist while attempting to take out the banner kept by the Maoist in Singha VDC-5 of Tatopan in 1999 September 24. This was the first killing by Maoist in the district after they begin their armed conflict. They begin their attack on temporary police post at BabiyaChaur on June 15, 2000. In this attack, the Maoist looted three, 3nut rifles from the police. The Maoist began to abduct and kill teachers to terrorize those teacher having different ideologies other than Maoist. In February 11, 2000, Hari Kumar Shrestha, chairperson of Nepal Teacher’s Association was abducted and another teacher Mani Lal Sharma was heinously killed by the Maoist. After this incident, the CPN UML and Congress cadres were terrorized and started to hide from Maoist. Darbang Bazzar of Myagdi, which is in second security line of Maoist was taken as a headquarter of Maoist, during the armed conflict.

In 2002, February 26, there was a mass killing of five Maoist supported student cadres in Sikh VDC including one female. During armed conflict, more than 90 Maoist supporter and cadres were killed by the state. The Maoist had killed three security personnel along with teacher leader Mani Lal Sharma, Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Sherchan of Darbang , CPN UML cadre Tul Prasad Purja and Bhim Bahadur Ghimire of Nepali Congress to expand their influence.

Beni Attack

The Maoist cadres had conducted fierce attack on the night of March 20, 2004 in Beni. This attack was one of the comprehensive and fierce attacks operated by Maoist among the nine attacks during the eight years of their conflict in terms of army force and intensity. This attack continued for 12 hours. The Maoist claimed that there was more than five thousand Maoist combatant involved in this attack.

Prior to Beni attack, Maoist combatant reached to Takam of western Myagdi through Lukum of Rukum district travelling a zigzag road via Dhorpatan conservation. When Maoist combatant reached their destination after travelling for 17 days, the army commanders and police were not aware of the attack that was about to happen. The security personnel were about to sleep, the attack begin. They were not prepared for this attack and compelled to retaliate the attack.

The press released by the defense ministry claimed that five hundred Maoists, 125 army and 26 police were killed in this attack however, in Beni attack, 17 police, 14 army personnel and 90 Maoist combatants were killed. In an attack more than hundreds were injured for both sides. There are no exact details or data of how many people were killed or injured in this attack. In this attack, two children and 19 civilians were killed.

During Beni attack, the Maoist had abducted CDO Sagar Mani Parajuli, DSP Rana Bahadur Gautam and other 40 security personnel. They bargained with the government to release them if their Maoist commander Netra Bikram Chand, Nanda Kishore Pun (present vice-president), Matrika Yadav, Suresh Ale and Kiran Sharma are released from the captivity.

In armed conflict, telephone repeater tower, VDC buildings, Vetenaries, Agriculture Development Bank and many other infrastructures were destroyed in an explosion. Similarly, District Court, District Administration Office, District Development Office, prison, schools, library, bank and dozens of governmental buildings were destroyed by Maoist.

In Beni attack, both Maoist and the then government claimed to have victory however, this attack is the example of failure of both sides. In fact local people have lost in this Beni attack. The destroyed governmental buildings have been rebuilt, but the wound of heart in locals still remains. The locals are facing problem in government offices as most of the papers were destroyed during an attack. The shape of headquarter changed but the reflection is same.

Physical Destruction: The conflict has claimed millions of destruction in properties. Reconciliation and re building is necessary in the society for the reparation of physical destruction. During the armed conflict, setting fire and explosion in District offices and even personnel properties has made loss of more than billions. To re build and establish district court, administration, police office and district development committee in Beni destructed by the Maoist during the conflict has cost Rs 3, 42, 17,047.

According to the information given by the committee, to rebuild District Court, it cost 77,45, 231, for administrative building 78,49,361, to build Police Office, 82,80, 615 and to build District Development Committee building, it cost 92,19 294.

There are buildings of District Development Committee, District Administration Office, Attorney General Office, Court Telecom Office and many other government buildings in northern part of Myagdi River which flows from west. These buildings were newly built. These rebuilt buildings are like a war memorials.

“ That March 20, in a memory of locals”

Krishna Lal Shrestha, injured

That night, Krishna Lal had a night duty in District Court. Whole night he was hiding underneath the table in guard quarter. In the morning, the Maoist set fire in district court building and he surrendered with Maoist by raising both hands. All of a sudden the bullet was shot in his leg after he reached near the gate. He fell down in the spot. He was airlifted by the army to army hospital in Chauni, Kathmandu for the treatment. He underwent treatment but unfortunately lost his left leg.

“Whole night was spent by hiding”, he said. He added that it was never expected that Maoist will attack Court.- Victim of armed conflict Krishna lal Shrestha.

Padam Bhandari

Officer Padam Bhandari of District Development Committee was with his family in DDC staff building on that day. There were 20 staffs and their families including District chairman Chakrapani Acharya appointed by the then king were living in the old staff building. There were three infants as well. After the confirmation of Maoist attack, all staffs shifted to a new building where Bhandari was living. Within one hour of attack, the Maoist entered the premises to capture the building. They started to interrogate. After confirming whether they are security personnel or not, they kept everyone in the room and continued their attack at District Police Office from there. The security personnel did not retaliate the attack may be after knowing that there are office staffs in the building.

“Only we survived, remaining Bazzar was completely destroyed, we thought everyone was killed”. Before dawn, the Maoist took us out from the building and set fire on it. They took us in one house at Hulak Chok. We lived in that building because the relatives in security guild said that there are no possibilities of Beni attack. The building was strong and we were not afraid to get bullet shot, but we were in a fear of bombardment.

Guerrilla Trail

The 17 days trek by Maoist combatant to attack Beni by using a trail through Lukum of North-eastern Thawang of Rukum following zigzag road to Dhorpatan Hunting conservation is proposed as Raktim trail or Guerilla Trail. The trail which starts from Beni, ends after reaching Rolpa. This trail has become a tourist attraction now.