Maoists have recently (July 05) banned sales, distribution and reporting of a local daily newspaper (Blast Times Daily) which was the only popular independent new press publication in this part of Nepal. Interestingly, also the military authorities have given Blast Times Daily a hammering for their reporting. It is very symptomatic of the situation in the whole nation, generally. The reason, according to the maoist district secretary of Ilam, Comrade Umesh, is that Blast Times daily had been carrying out a media campaign to malign the rebel leadership's name. No wonder, right? This info is scraped from www.nepalnews.com and verified by local sources.
Over the last year and a half maoists have by and large taken control of Ilam District outside the main roads and the two main bazaar areas and district headquarters. Every VDC has now a maoist secretary as the semi-functional control figure.
However, the government forces can move around at will, so the maoists are unable to hold territory as such. There have been some major clashes (up to 25 government forces dead in one incident on the road between Ilam Bazaar and Phidim), some roadside blasts/landmines and numerous shootings and skirmishes.
The main problem for road travellers are the numerous blockades and maoist tree-felled- trees blocking the roads, including the one to Jhapa (Terai). It is unsafe to travel at night. Period.
This info is taken from Nepali Times online version on NepalNews.com on 21 November 04.
"From Kathmandu to the eastern hills and down to the tarai, there are increasing indications that all is not well with the Maoists’ legendary control and unity.
Factionalism, desertions and disharmony in the ranks are much more rife than it appears on the surface. The Maoists themselves admit that frequent arrests and killings of their leaders in the past year have affected activities in central and eastern Nepal. "
"In the eastern tarai, the Maoists have seen a rash of corruption incidents, desertions and degeneration into warlordism. Some have disappeared after collecting revolutionary taxes."
In Rautahat, platoon commander S.Yadab was accused of misappropriating party funds and has defected. On 22 July, he abandoned the party and started his own Madhesi Tiger group. On 25 July, J.K. Goit from Saptari abandoned the Maoist-affiliated Madhesi National Liberation Front and started his own Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha... (...) ... his own “liberation army”, and there are fears this might spark off an ethnic conflict.
In the urban tarai, Maoist activities have been reduced a great deal after the arrest of top members of the Maoists’ Special Task Force in Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari. The army (...)intelligence (...) knows that the Mechi-Koshi 18 Battallion, ‘D’ company has 160 fighters and is armed with limited numbers of assorted captured rifles.
Ram Bahadur Thapa (Comrade Badal) has taken over the Maoist Eastern Command after M. Baidya was arrested in Siliguri in June. Even so, there has been no improvement (...). Recently, (the Maoists) held a strategy meeting to change district commanders and area in-charges.
The army itself has been adding muscle at the Eastern Brigade Headquarters in Itahari by increasing its troop strength of 12,000 by another 3,000. (...) in the past year and half, 36 new army bases have been added and 20 more are planned".
End of quote