Maoist student groups are
trying to take control of the 65,000 schools (elementary through college) in
the country. An attempt to intimidate pro-democracy student groups resulted in
brawls, and the arrests of fifty Maoist activists. In response, the Maoists
have called for an indefinite shutdown of all the schools in the country, at
least until the police release those fifty communist activists. The Maoists
threaten to use violence if students or teachers try to attend classes.
But the Maoists students immediately backed off and said they would allow the
final exams this week, for 117,000 high school students.
The student subversion is but one part of a
nation-wide Maoist campaign to "mobilize the masses" to assist in
establishing a communist dictatorship. Nepal is full of feudal and tribal
practices that cry out for reform. But many are wary of letting the Maoists
lead the way. Many Nepalese are aware of what happened in Cambodia in the
1970s, when Maoists took over and killed a fifth of the population. After
several years of slaughter, neighboring Vietnam invaded and removed the Maoists
from power. Nepal would see Indian troops coming in if the situation got too
ugly. But most Nepalese would prefer that things didn't get that far. Many
Nepalese want change, but they aren't sure they want to follow the Maoists into
an unstable future. The political parties offer the prospect of relatively
peaceful. But those parties are largely controlled by people who come from
people who owe their livelihoods and social standing to Nepal as it is now.
The Maoists offer a cynical
and paranoid view of the world, and they believe a wide array of
"reactionary forces" are out to get them. The army is particularly
feared, mainly because the Maoists have had little success infiltrating the
armed forces. The troops tend of be royalist, and the Maoists fear that the
soldiers will never allow the king to be removed from power. The Maoists are
also reluctant to try and defeat the army in battle. Experience so far has
shown that the troops are much better at killing. So now we have a ceasefire, and
the Maoists trying to isolate the army via social action.