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Nepali Civil War

A Maoist rebel speaks to villagers in the area around Piskar
Date13 February 1996 – 21 November 2006
(10 years, 9 months, 1 week and 1 day)
Result Comprehensive Peace Accord
Abolition of Nepalese monarchy[6]

Kingdom of Nepal

Supported by:
 United Kingdom[4]
 United States[4]

Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)

Supported by:
Communist Party of India (Maoist)
Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist)[5]
Commanders and leaders
King of Nepal:
Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (1972–2001)
Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev (2001–2008)
Prime Minister of Nepal:
Sher Bahadur Deuba (1995–1997; 2001–2002; 2004–2005)
Lokendra Bahadur Chand (1997–1997; 2002–2003)
Surya Bahadur Thapa (1997–1998; 2003–2004)
Girija Prasad Koirala (1998–1999; 2000–2001; 2006–2008)
Krishna Prasad Bhattarai (1999–2000)
COAS of the Nepalese Army:
Dharmapaal Barsingh Thapa (1995–1999)
Prajwalla Shumsher JBR (1999–2003)
Pyar Jung Thapa (2003–2006)
Rookmangud Katawal (2006–2009)
IGP of Nepal Police:
Moti Lal Bohora (1992–1996)
Achyut Krishna Kharel (1996–1996; 1996–1999)
Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan (1996–1996)
Pradip Shumsher J.B.R. (1999–2002)
Shyam Bhakta Thapa (2002–2006)
Om Bikram Rana (2006–2008)
Pushpa Kamal Dahal
Baburam Bhattarai (Laldhwaj)
Mohan Baidya (Kiran)
Nanda Kishor Pun
Ram Bahadur Thapa
Netra Bikram Chand
95,000 50,000
Casualties and losses
4,500 killed[8] 8,200 killed (guerrillas)[8]
17,800 killed overall[9]
1,300 missing[10]

The Nepali Civil War was a protracted armed conflict that took place in the then Kingdom of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. It saw countrywide fighting between the Kingdom rulers and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), with the latter making significant use of guerrilla warfare.[11] The conflict began on 13 February 1996, when the CPN (Maoist) initiated an insurgency with the stated purpose of overthrowing the Nepali monarchy and establishing a people's republic; it ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord on 21 November 2006.

The civil war was characterized by numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, including summary executions, massacres, purges, kidnappings, and mass rapes. It resulted in the deaths of over 17,000 people, including civilians, insurgents, and army and police personnel; and the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly throughout rural Nepal. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has received about 63,000 complaints, as reported by commissioner Madhabi Bhatta, while the Commission for Investigation of Enforced Disappearances has received around 3,000.[12]


Communist graffiti in Kathmandu. It reads: "Long Live Marxism–Leninism–Maoism and Prachanda Path!"

On 10 January 1990, the United Left Front (ULF) was formed,[13]: 331  which, together with the Nepali Congress, was the backbone of the movement for democratic change. However, communist groups, uncomfortable with the alliance between the ULF and the Congress, 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 the ULF and the Congress party with the palace. 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.[13]: 332  The CPN(UC) held its first convention on 25 November 1991;[13]: 332  it adopted a line of "protracted armed struggle on the route to a new democratic revolution",[14] 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 (Prachanda), argued for immediate armed revolution, while the other group, led by Nirmal Lama, claimed that Nepal was not yet ripe for armed struggle.[13]: 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 seven simultaneous attacks over six districts.[13]: 333  Initially, the 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 policing matter. On Friday, 1 June 2001, King Birendra, and his entire family were killed in a massacre at the Narayanhiti Palace – the official residence of the Shah monarchs. Perpetrated by Prince Dipendra,[15] the heir apparent to the Nepali throne, there were ten deaths and five injuries – four injured victims and one self-inflicted injury on Dipendra after shooting himself in the head in an apparent suicide attempt. Dipendra fell into a coma for three days before dying, during which he was crowned as the new king. On 25 July 2001, the government of Sher Bahadur Deuba and the Maoist insurgents declared a ceasefire, and held peace talks from August to November of that year.[13]: 335  The failure of these peace talks resulted in the return to armed conflict, beginning with the Maoist attack on an army barracks in Dang District in western Nepal, on 22 November.[13]: 335  The 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.[13]: 309 

The government responded by banning anti-monarchy statements,[16] 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 constituent assembly elections. At the same time, the Maoists refused to recognize the continued survival 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, while the Maoists dominated the rural areas. In August 2004, the Maoists declared a week-long blockade of Kathmandu city which was later called off.[17]

On 1 February 2005, in response to the inability of the relatively democratic government to restore order, King Gyanendra seized direct power and declared a state of emergency in an attempt to definitively end the insurgency. He proclaimed, "democracy and progress contradict one pursuit of liberalism, we should never overlook an important aspect of our conduct, namely discipline."[18] As a result of this takeover, the United Kingdom and India both suspended their material support for Nepal.[13]: 337  According to reports by Nepali newspaper Kantipur, China supplied arms and military equipment to the Gyanendra regime in November 2005; it was the first time China provided arms during the decade long conflict.[19] On 5 May 2005, in response to the takeover by King Gyanendra, seven political parties began talks to form a Seven Party Alliance (SPA).[13]: 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",[20] and included a commitment to hold elections to a constituent assembly and for the Maoist rebels to renounce violence.[13]: 339 

In 2006, violent conflict decreased significantly, and instead, resistance transformed into non-violent pro-democracy demonstrations.[13]: 339  The municipal elections held in February were boycotted by seven major parties. Instead, over 70 minor political parties promoted candidates.[21] Officially, voter turnaround was 20 percent.[22] Throughout April, pro-democracy demonstrations were held across Nepal, and 19 demonstrators were killed, over 400 protesters were arrested, while dozens of others were injured. On 21 April, King Gyanendra announced that he would return governance to the SPA, but this offer was rejected by both the Maoist rebels and the SPA.[13]: 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.[13]: 339  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.[13]: 340  On 21 November, the government, the SPA, and the Maoist rebels signed the Comprehensive Peace Accord, which formally ended the civil war.[13]: 340 

The Civil War forced young workers to seek work abroad, predominantly in the Persian Gulf and south-east Asia. The economy of Nepal is still heavily dependent on the infusion of foreign income from these migrant workers. As a result of the civil war, Nepal's tourism industry suffered considerably.

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


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Early events





In the offensive: DSP Hem Raj Regmi was shot dead by Maoists, 11 November 2004.



Protesters during the 2006 Nepalese revolution


More than 17,000 people (including both civilians and armed forces) were killed during the conflict, including over 4,000 Nepalese killed by Maoists from 1996 to 2005, and over 8,200 Nepalese killed by government forces from 1996 to 2005.[8] 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. The revolution resulted in political, social and cultural change in Nepal.[60][61][62]

Transitional justice bodies

As a transitional justice mechanism, in July 2007, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction proposed legislation that would establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Nepal.[63] The parliament set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate:

"Murder, abduction and taking of hostage, causing mutilation and disability, physical or mental torture, rape and sexual violence, looting, possession, damage or arson of private or public property, forced eviction from house and land or any other kind of displacement, and any kind of inhuman acts inconsistent with the international human rights or humanitarian law or other crimes against humanity."[11]

Also another commission to investigate on forced disappearances and debated proposals to grant an amnesty for abuses by government and rebel forces.[11] Both commissions were established in 2013. However, the government led by the NCP, did not extend the tenure of the working commission, dismissed it, and allegedly formed a new commission in its favor.

In 2016, commissioner Madhabi Bhatta of the TRC, a hardliner advocating that amnesty will not be given to perpetrators of serious crimes and that no one has immunity, said on national television that even Prachanda, the then-Prime Minister and former supreme commander of the guerrillas, will be questioned by the commission, reporting that she felt security threats from the former extremists.[64][65][66]

Army integration

The Nepalese Army took final control over the People's Liberation Army (PLA), the armed wing of the CPN (Maoist), on 10 April 2012.[67] Then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who also headed the Army Integration Special Committee (AISC), told the committee on 10 April 2012, that the NA was going to move into all 15 PLA cantonments, take full control, and take control of more than 3,000 weapons locked in containers there.[67] A total of 6,576 combatants chose the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), that promised cheques in the range of NPR 500,000 to NPR 800,000, depending on their rank.[67]

In the first phase (18 November – 1 December 2011) of regrouping, 9,705 former combatants had chosen integration into the NA.[67] In a landmark achievement, the AISC had initiated the process of integration following a 1 November 2011, seven-point deal signed by three major political parties – UCPN-M, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML) and Nepali Congress (NC) – and the umbrella formation of several Madheshi groups, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF).[67] The deal provided three options to former PLA combatants – integration, voluntary retirement and rehabilitation.[67] 9,705 combatants opted for integration, 7,286 chose voluntary discharge, and six combatants registered their names for rehabilitation packages.[67] The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) had registered 19,602 combatants in the second verification conducted on 26 May 2007.[67] Leaked footage of Prachanda was later telecasted by Image Channel on 5 May 2009, in which Parchanda claims to have given the UNMIN an inflated number of Maoist fighters.[68]

On 14 April 2012, AISC decision laid down that the ranks of the integrated combatants would be determined according to the NA's, and not the PLA's, standards.[67] A selection committee would be headed by the chairman of Nepal's Public Service Commission (PSC) or by a member appointed by him, and a General Directorate would be created under the NA, headed by a Lieutenant General, to absorb the integrated combatants.[67] The combatants will have to undergo between three and nine months of training, depending on their ranks.[67] The Directorate would only be deployed for disaster relief, industrial security, development, and forest and environment conservation.[67] On 17 April, the NA stated that it could not start the recruitment process of former Maoist combatants until the structure—leadership and size—of the General Directorate had been finalised at the political level.[67] On 19 April 2012, the three major political parties agreed to merge two separate proposed commissions on Truth and Reconciliation, and on Disappearances, into one.[67]

See also


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Further reading

Post–Cold War conflicts in Asia