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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 August 2007, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Fears over Nepal's young Maoists
By Surendra Phuyal
BBC News, Kathmandu

Many are distrustful of the Young Communist League

An aggressive nationwide parallel policing and volunteering campaign unleashed by Young Communist League (YCL) members in Nepal has worried many in the Himalayan nation.

Aside from ordinary people, those concerned about YCL activities include everybody from Prime Minister GP Koirala, former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, former US President Jimmy Carter and the US Ambassador to Nepal, James F Moriarty.

The YCL - the junior wing of former Maoist rebels - was reactivated after the recent peace agreement between the Nepal's seven-party alliance (SPA) and the Maoists in November 2006.

The Maoists claim that the YCL has more than 300,000 cadres currently operating around the country, and they plan to increase that number to over 500,000 in the next few months.

YCL Kathmandu leader Sagar
We are not feared by commoners, we are feared only by corrupt people and criminals
YCL Kathmandu leader Sagar

But what is intriguing is the fact that the YCL is led by former Maoist fighters - including "key assassins" who until recently were wanted by the Nepalese police.

Many of the "key assassins" are more radical, and eager to pursue "ideological politics". They do not want to remain confined to UN-monitored cantonments, where about 30,000 "former combatants" are currently residing under the terms of last year's peace deal agreed with the government.

Sagar, in charge of the YCL in the Kathmandu Valley, says that his members have been involved in social and community work, including cleaning up neighbourhoods, supplying drinking water and "arresting corrupt officials, businessmen and criminals".

"We are not feared by commoners, we are feared only by corrupt people and criminals," he said.

'Young Criminal League'

But US Ambassador Moriarty says that is not always the case.

He says that on a recent afternoon in the eastern Nepalese town of Damak, a group of young men and women holding YCL placards hurled stones at a UN vehicle carrying him and a UN refugee agency official.

Ian Martin, UNMIN special ambassador to Nepal
I have urged [Prachanda] to make public instructions, under which the YCL operates, making clear that these are fully in accordance with the law and with human rights standards
Ian Martin, Unmin special ambassador to Nepal

But the Maoist leader and man who is in overall charge of the YCL, Prachanda, vehemently denies that Maoist cadres were involved.

"How could YCL cadres hurl stones at a diplomatic vehicle? That's not true," he said.

To which Ambassador Moriarty replies: "That's a lie. That's not true. I know they were YCL cadres because they were carrying YCL placards there."

No less worried is Ian Martin, the United Nation's Mission to Nepal (Unmin) special ambassador.

"I have discussed the role and activities of the YCL with Chairman Prachanda on a number of occasions," he said, "and have urged him to make public instructions, under which the YCL operates, making clear that these are fully in accordance with the law and with human rights standards."

As elections take place in November for an assembly that will write Nepal's new constitution, political leaders including the prime minister also seem concerned by YCL activities.

To a business delegation which was complaining about "continuing extortions" by Maoist or YCL cadres, the prime minister reportedly said: "They are Young Criminal League members, not Young Communist League."

Soon afterwards, YCL cadres burnt effigies of the prime minister.

Echoing the sentiments of many who want an open and fearless environment for November's election, former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba fears the YCL could disrupt the vote - a situation Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel says would be "shameful for Nepal".

'No elections'

Recently, Mr Deuba, who is president of the Nepali Congress (Democratic) party, went to his home district of Dadeldhura in far-western Nepal.

"But Maoist or YCL cadres didn't let us organise a mass meeting," he said.

Young Communist League members in Nepal
The YCL excels at moving its members around

"The Maoist leaders must tell their cadres to mend their ways. If the current situation prevails, there won't be any elections in November."

Meanwhile, a political organisation in the south, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF), has been angered after its members had several violent confrontations with YCL cadres.

The MJF has now urged the government to ban the YCL and expel Maoists from the coalition government.

Alleged violence by the YCL also figured prominently during a meeting between former US President Carter and top Maoist leaders Prachanda and his deputy, Baburam Bhattarai.

In that meeting the Maoist leaders sought the former president's help in getting the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M) removed from the a US list of "terrorist" organisations, which bars them from visiting America.

Mr Carter said he would mention their request in a report that the Carter Center would be submitting to the US State Department and the UN secretary-general.

But Mr Carter also said that the Carter Center would be monitoring the YCL closely to ensure that "their future behaviour is in line with these promises".

Analysts here say Mr Carter's remarks are similar to what the US government has oft-repeated: that the Maoist cadres on the ground must follow what their leaders say in public, and that they should work to improve the law and order situation ahead of the elections.

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