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Hero’s return for Maoist duo

Kakarvitta (Nepal)/Jalpaiguri, Nov. 30: They had been waiting for hours.

The sleepy hill town on the other side of the Nepal-India border, 42 km from Siliguri, looked straight out of fairyland. By the light of hundreds of candles stood a swelling crowd, whose number seemed to increase by the minute. And by the time the car rolled in with Mohan Baidya and Chandra Prakash Gajurel, there was no containing them.

Waving red flags (of the Communist Party of Nepal, Maoist) and with flowers, garlands and abir, the crowd flung themselves on the duo, chanting “Swagatham, swagatham…/ Hridey thekhe swagatham (We welcome you from the core of our heart)”. It was 9.40 pm.

“The party will decide whether I will join the ministry or not,” was the first thing Gajurel said after stepping on to Nepal soil, putting an end to the speculation that had been going on until then. “I am happy with the role of the Indian government.” Baidya, however, made it clear that he would not join the government. Baidya and Gajurel had been released from Jalpaiguri Central Jail around 7.45 pm. All charges against them have been dropped. Thirteen others, accused in the same cases, have also been released.

“I don’t know what took a developed country like India so much time to do the paperwork,” said Pratik, a Maoist heavyweight.

“Nepal has changed now. It is not the same old days of violence,” said Bijoy Dalmia, the president of the Mechi Chambers of Commerce and Industries. That was evident as policemen lighted candles hand in hand with the Maoists. “The mantra now is Santi leads to arthik kranti (peace leads to economic revolution),” Dalmia said, summing up the mood.

Not that there wasn’t any dying embers. “We have dropped the arms but the keys to the store are there. The government should keep that in mind,” said Comrade Parwana, the first commandant of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s Jhapa unit. The PLA is a wing of the CPN(M).

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