Nepalese students, recounting their abduction by Maoist rebels, say the militants treated them well and wanted to hear their views -- even if they were critical of rebel actions.
But the 84 students and 36 teachers, freed on Tuesday after being kidnapped last weekend from a village near the capital Kathmandu by rebels accused of atrocities, said it was still a frightening ordeal.
Ramila Acharya, 15, said she was terrified when armed rebels, who have been waging an increasingly deadly war to topple the constitutional monarchy, barged into their school in Chaimale and told them they were taking them away to teach the students "what a `people's republic' meant."
"I felt like crying and was very upset," she said, providing a rare account of being kidnapped by the Maoists, whose "people's war" to install a communist republic has killed 9,500 people since 1996.
"But the rebels treated us nicely. They gave us shelter and food to eat," even if they did make "us chant slogans like `Long live the Nepal Communist Party-Maoist!'" she said.
The abductions of the students were the first ever in the Kathmandu valley.
Until last Sunday, the rebels had kidnapped students only from the remote countryside which they largely control.
The students were usually released after rebels tried to either indoctrinate them or persuade them to join their ranks.
The kidnappings followed a wave of Maoist attacks in and around the capital seen by analysts as a show of strength by the rebels.
The 10 rebel kidnappers wore civilian clothes and carried pistols. Two were women.
"We had to walk for nearly nine hours, crawling many times through the jungle where the path was difficult, and reached an unknown place late at night," 17-year-old Pushpa Raj Acharya said.
At one time they had to cross a bridge built over a swollen river using a pulley suspended on a rope and were terrified of tumbling into the fast-moving waters.
The students said they were confined to a house they could only leave to go to the toilet.
But the rebels allowed probing and often hostile questions in their discussions with the students.
"We asked why they were destroying the country's economic infrastructure and why they announced the frequent strikes shutting down the country," 16-year-old Ram Kumar Chapagain said.
"They replied they will rebuild the destroyed infrastructure once they come to power and as far as the strikes go, they said they held them to see how popular they [the rebels] are," Chapagain said.
Another student, Sanu Kanchha Bhomjon, 18, recounted: "We were asked to participate in an interaction program and to speak about the rebels, their shortcomings and other complaints against them."
"They listened to us and our grievances against them. Then they explained to us about a people's republic and criticized the political parties of Nepal and the king," he said. "They said we would be welcome to join their party anytime."
Their release, which the army takes credit for, though the students and teachers said the rebels freed them voluntarily, was greeted with relief among fearful parents.
"We'd nearly given up hope of seeing my son return alive but now I'm happy beyond my wildest dreams," farmer Arjun Acharya said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big