Nepalese Civil War

Nepali Civil War
Communist mural in Kathmandu. It reads: "Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Prachanda Path."
Date 13 February 1996 – 21 November 2006
(10 years, 9 months, 1 week and 1 day)
Location Nepal

Comprehensive Peace Accord

Nepal Kingdom of Nepal
( Government of Nepal)

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

Supported by:

Communist Party of India (Marxist)
Commanders and leaders

Nepal Nepal:

Sher Bahadur Deuba (until 1997; 2001-02; 2004-05)
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (Last King of Nepal; 2001-08)
COAS of Nepalese Army:
Dharmapaal Barsingh Thapa (until 1999)
Prajwalla Shumsher JBR (1999-2003)
Pyar Jung Thapa (from 2003)
Nepal IGP:
Moti Lal Bohora (until 1997)
Achyut Krishna Kharel (1997–2001)
Pradip Shumsher J.B.R. (1999–2001)
Shyam Bhakta Thapa (from 2001)

( Pushpa Kamal Dahal)

Baburam Bhattarai

Mohan Baidya (Kiran)

( Nanda Kishor Pun)
Casualties and losses
4,500 killed [1] 8,200 killed (mostly civilians) [1]
17,800 killed overall [2]
1,300 missing [3]

The Nepalese Civil War was an armed conflict between the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) and the government of Nepal, fought from 1996 to 2006. The rebellion was launched by the CPN-M on 13 February 1996 with the main aim of overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing a People's Republic. It ended with the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed on 21 November 2006.


More than 19,000 people (including both civilians and armed forces) were killed during the conflict, including 4,500 Nepalis killed by Maoists from 1996-2005, and 8,200 Nepalis killed by government forces from 1996-2005. [1] In addition, an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 people were internally displaced as a result of the conflict. Furthermore, this conflict disrupted most rural development activities.

On 10 January 1990, the United Left Front (ULF) was formed, [4]:331 which, together with the Nepali Congress, was the backbone of the broad-based movement for democratic change. However, communist groups, uncomfortable with the alliance between the ULF and the Congress Party, formed a parallel front, the United National People's Movement (UNPM). The UNPM called for elections to a constituent assembly, and rejected compromises made by ULF and the Congress Party with the royal house. In November 1990, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre), or CPN(UC), was formed, and included key elements of the UNPM. On 21 January 1991, the CPN(UC) set up the United People's Front of Nepal (UPFN), with Baburam Bhattarai as its head, as an open front to contest elections. [5]:332 The CPN(UC) held its first convention on 25 November 1991, [5]:332 adopted a line of "protracted armed struggle on the route to a new democratic revolution", [6] and decided that the party would remain an underground party. In the 1991 election, the UPFN became the third-largest party in the Nepali parliament. However, disagreements within the UPFN surged, regarding which tactics were to be used by the party. One group, led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal (alias Prachanda), argued for immediate armed revolution, while the other group, led by Nirmal Lama, claimed that Nepal was not yet ripe for armed struggle. [5]:332

On 22 May 1994, the CPN(UC)/ UPFN was split in two. The militant faction later renamed itself the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or CPN(M). This faction described the government forces, mainstream political parties, and the monarchy, as " feudal forces". The armed struggle began on 13 February 1996, when the CPN(M) carried out 7 simultaneous attacks over 6 districts. [5]:333 Initially, the Nepali government mobilized the Nepal Police to contain the insurgency. The Royal Nepal Army was not involved in direct fighting because the conflict was regarded as a matter for which the police would sustain control. Controversy grew regarding the army not assisting the police during insurgent attacks in remote areas. On 19 July 2001, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala resigned over his inability to tackle the Maoist insurgency, and over the refusal of the army to take part in the conflict. [5]:335 On 25 July 2001, the government of Sher Bahadur Deuba and the Maoist insurgents declared a ceasefire, and held peace talks from August–November of that year. [5]:335 The failure of these peace talks resulted in the return to armed conflict, beginning when the Maoists attacked an army barracks in Dang District in western Nepal, on 22 November. [5]:335 Overnight, the army was unleashed against the insurgents, mobilizing both tanks and artillery. The insurgency situation changed dramatically in 2002, as the number of attacks by both sides increased greatly, and more people died than in any other year of the war. [5]:309

The government responded to the insurgency by banning anti-monarchy statements, [7] imprisoning journalists, and shutting down newspapers accused of siding with the insurgents. Several rounds of negotiations, accompanied by temporary ceasefires, were held between the insurgents and the government. The government categorically rejected the insurgents' demand for elections to a constituent assembly, for fear that it would result in the abolition of the monarchy by a popular vote. At the same time, the Maoists refused to recognize the installation of a constitutional monarchy. In November 2004, the government rejected both the Maoists' request to negotiate directly with King Gyanendra rather than via Prime Minister Deuba, and the Maoists' request for discussions to be mediated by a third party such as the United Nations.

Throughout the war, the government controlled the main cities and towns, whilst the Maoists dominated the rural areas. This was a result of the fact that almost all government institutions were located in either the capital city Kathmandu, or the headquarters of a district. In August 2004, even Kathmandu came under rebel control, as the Maoists performed a week-long blockade of the city. [8]

Under the aegis of the global War on Terror and with the stated goal of averting the development of a " failed state" that could serve as a source of regional and international instability, the United States, United Kingdom, and India, among other nations, provided extensive military and economic aid to the Nepali government. On 1 February 2005, in response to the inability of the relatively democratic government to restore order, King Gyanendra seized full control of Nepal in an attempt to definitively end the insurgency. He proclaimed, "democracy and progress contradict one another... in pursuit of liberalism, we should never overlook an important aspect of our conduct, namely discipline." [9] As a result of this takeover, the United Kingdom and India both suspended their material support for Nepal. [5]:337 On 5 May 2005, in response to the takeover by King Gyanendra, 7 political parties began talks to form a Seven Party Alliance (SPA). [5]:338 On 22 November 2005, with support from the Indian government, Maoist rebels and the SPA jointly issued a 12-point resolution, which described autocratic monarchy as the main obstacle to "democracy, peace, prosperity, social upliftment and an independent and sovereign Nepal", [10] and included a commitment to hold elections to a constituent assembly and for the Maoist rebels to renounce violence. [5]:339

In 2006, violent conflict decreased significantly, and instead, the year was dominated by pro-democracy demonstrations. [5]:339 Throughout April 2006, pro-democracy demonstrations were held across Nepal, and over 400 protesters in Kathmandu were arrested, while tens of others were injured. On 21 April, King Gyanendra announced that he would return the Prime Ministership to the SPA, but this offer was rejected by both the Maoist rebels and the SPA. [5]:339 On 24 April, King Gyanendra announced that he would also reinstate the House of Representatives, which satisfied the SPA, who formed the reinstated House of Representatives. [5]:339 However, the Maoist rebels vowed to continue the agitation, and on 2 June, in Kathmandu, the Maoists held the largest pro-democracy demonstration, which was attended by over 200,000 people. [5]:339–340 On 9 August, the government and the Maoist rebels agreed to accept the United Nations to monitor the peace process and to manage the arms of both sides. [5]:340 On 21 November, the government, the SPA, and the Maoist rebels signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which formally ended the Civil War. [5]:340

The Civil War forced young workers to seek work abroad, predominantly in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. The regular flow of remittances from these labourers has allowed Nepal to avoid serious economic crisis or bankruptcy. The economy of Nepal is heavily dependent on the infusion of foreign income from these foreign workers (similar to the Lebanese economy during its civil war). As a result of the Civil War, Nepal's tourism industry, which is its greatest source of foreign currency, suffered considerably. According to the travel company iExplore, Nepal went from being the 10th most popular destination among adventure travellers to the 27th most popular.

According to INSEC, 1,665 out of the 15,026 deaths that occurred during the Civil War (approximately 11 percent) were female victims, with government forces being responsible for approximately 85 percent of the killings of females. [11]

Three Maoist rebels wait on top of a hill in the Rolpa district for orders to relocate
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