A photo story by Bhojraj Bhat/Kantipur
They began to move about hours before the scheduled time. It was Thokarpa VDC in Sindhupalchowk, where the Maoists were scheduled to organize a mass rally on March 28, 06.
Barsha Man Pun, a.k.a. Ananta, who is a special commander-in-charge of the CPN-Maoist, arrived at 11.30 through a bus. He was flanked by another central committee member, Agni Sapkota, a.k.a. Kanchan.
The dais was yet to be built. Brigrade Commissar Ganga Karki was entrusted with the job. Some were engaged in weaving the garlands of rhododendrons nearby while others were busy carrying the chairs and tables.
With the arrival of another bus at 12 o™clock, the number of the participants increased.
Half of the insurgents were busy in eating and drinking.
Out of sudden there was a sound of a flying plane. Some said it was a regular flight while others guessed that it could be a Royal Nepalese Army spy plane. When the plane began to hover not far above their heads, the Brigade Commissar Vishwa and Commander Govinda Batala ordered to make necessary preparations to bear the attacks.
Soon, a Chita helicopter began to hover around. Fearing attacks, people began to run helter-skelter. œKeep the journalist safe, a commander cried. They took one Nepali and another foreign journalist to the upward place of Bagh Bhairav Higher Secondary School.
Meanwhile, the gunship chopper began to rain bullets at the place where this scribe was standing along with journalist Dinesh Shrestha and a Japanese journalist. An insurgent met his death on the spot after he received bullets from the chopper.
The Maoists were overhearing the messages being communicated through walkie-talkies by the RNA personnel, through 10-band radios.
Four choppers continued bombarding the place for one and half hour and vanished in the horizon.
After the sounds of the choppers vanished away, the insurgents came out and went towards the hilltop. Everywhere, there was confusion. Someone informed that Ananta and Kanchan had already left for a safer place. One insurgent was slain near Thokarpa School and another was lying dead a few yards east. The Maoists cremated the dead bodies in a nearby brook.
People were heard weeping in a village near the school. Maila Khatri, a local, was breathing his last. He succumbed to the bullet injuries after a few minutes. Three goats were also killed at the place.
Villagers cower behind a house as Royal Nepalese Army choppers bomb at school 10 meters away.
People again began to run helter-skelter. An army chopper, which was back after fueling, began aerial attacks.
The insurgents, who were heading for Wafal Bhanjyng, borderline between Kavre and Ramechhap districts, began hiding in the bushes. The insurgents also used a house in Lishung bazaar as a hideout, refusing the request of the hostess not to take refugee there.
After being assured that the choppers would not come back again, the insurgents put the injured inside a bus at 5 pm; but, out of sudden a helicopter turned up and began to rain indiscriminate firings. There was no human loss.
An army chopper landed at Thokarampa at 5.30 pm and the RNA personnel got out of it. The two sides exchanged fires the whole night. The transportation was disrupted due to the clash.
The aerial patrolling continued till Tuesday morning. The Maoists captured a bus that had come to Dolalghat from Deurali in Kavre, and used it to carry their cadres.
The Maoists had organized the mass rallies in Wangthali on January 23 and in Jalbire on March 5 as exercises for such a war. Kanchan was the chief guest in those programs.