People's Liberation Army, Nepal (Nepali: जनमुक्ति सेना, नेपाल) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN(M)). The PLA was founded in 2002, in the midst of the Nepal Civil War initiated by the Maoists in 1996. The chief commander of the PLA during the war was Prachanda (Pushpa Kamal Dahal). On September 12, 2008, Nanda Kishor Pun was appointed new chief commander of the PLA, as Prachanda had become Prime Minister of Nepal. This move was in line with a pledge issued by the CPN(M), issued prior to the 2008 Constituent Assembly election, that their members elected to the Assembly would leave their PLA positions.
Following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the PLA soldiers stay in cantoments. The CPA stipulates that PLA and the Royal Nepal Army should be integrated. The government of Dahal claims the PLA-NA integrations will be completed by six months.
After the negotiations with Government of the king broke down, CPN(M) decided changing their strategy. Meanwhile Maoist senior leader C.P. Gajurel was arrested on August 20, 2003 at Chennai International Airport. In January and February 2004 CPN(M) suffered a big setback and lost more than 80 armies attacking different regions of Nepal. There was a pressure from international side, the human rights organization for the brutal killings and kidnappings of civil countrymen during the insurgency. Issuing a press statement on March 16, 2004 Chairman Prachanda said, "Our party has been committed to the fundamental norms of human rights and the Geneva convention since the start of the people’s war. Anyone who without prejudice judges the facts of the eight years can find our People’s Liberation Army has been showing respectful behaviour, treatment to the injured and releasing the prisoners of the war in good condition."
During this period the party changed their military tactics, strategic offence. The PLA was immediately instructed to coverage at Thawang in Rolpa to prepare for a major offensive. The foremost responsibility was provided to the Western command of the PLA. The People’s Liberation Army from the brigades at Mangalsen, Gorahi-Satbaria, Lise-Gam and Basu Memorial were in Thawang by 8 March. All the PLA men were introduced with the war strategy and instructed for a major attack, the one in the last years of history of the people’s war. The responsibility of executing the plan was entitled to Diwakar, a senior Maoist leader which was believed to be worked out by chairman Prachanda. Between March 8 and 11, PLA commanders Diwakar and Pasang (current commander-in-chief of PLA) built sand models to illustrate the war strategy.
On March 12, the armed forces began moving towards the east with nearly about 3000 combatants. With a heavy preparation of arms, lodging, medicine, the PLA were into their destination. From Rolpa, the PLA made their way to Baglung through Rukum. Commander Pasang was in regular contact with chairman Prachanda. Before reaching Beni, the headquarters of Myagdi district, the PLA was given a final briefing about the war operation. The PLA attacked at 11 pm, March 20. The battle lasted throughout the night till 10 am, the next day. The Royal Nepal Army claimed killing of about 500 Maoist combattants. But opposing the claim, a statement released by Comrade Biplav claimed the killing of about 120 RNA and 26 policemen. 33 people include RNA soldiers, policemen and CDO with Deputy Superintendent of Police was taken prisoners by the PLA. CPN(M) proposed the releasing of their senior leaders Matrika Yadav, Suresh Ale Magar, Tilak Sharma and others in account of releasing the prisoners.
Chairman Prachanda vowed to continue the people’s war. He highlighted the attacking of PLA to the army barracks. Describing that the attack as a successful operation, chairman Prachanda claimed that it had blown away the myths about the RNA being trained with foreign forces was invincible.
According to UNMIN, the PLA has around 19,600 confirmed fighters residing in different cantonments over the past 3 years. The ones who were found to be unqualified during the verification process have been removed from the cantonments recently under an agreement of UNMIN (United Nations Mission in Nepal) peronnel, the Nepalese government and the party.
- As per the commitments expressed in the joint letter sent to the UN by the Government of Nepal and CPN(M) on August 9, the PLA would remain in the temporary camps. The United Nations would monitor and verify them.
- All arms and munitions would be securely stored in the camps except those needed for providing security of the camp after the PLA are in cantonments.
- Once the PLA are in the camps, the Government of Nepal will take responsibility of providing ration and other facilities to them.
- The interim cabinet will form a special committee to carry out monitoring, integration and rehabilitation of the Maoist insurgents.
- Efforts will be made to make arrangements for the security of the Maoist leaders as per the agreement with the government of Nepal.
The Nepali Maoist party's ambitious plan to fuse its People’s Liberation army with the latter's arch enemy, the Nepal Army, has come unstuck yet again with the opposition party refusing to toe the former rebels' line. Prime Minister Prachanda, who till two months ago was also the supreme commander of the guerrilla People's Liberation Army, had announced that a special committee would be formed to begin the controversial reintegration process. However, the panel could not be formed as the opposition, former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress raised the voice of dissentt the meeting of four major parties shooting down the Maoist proposal that the committee should be headed by a Maoist representative.
NC leaders have also begun protests against what they say is a move by the Maoists to appoint Nanda Kishor Pun 'Pasang', the chief of PLA after Prachanda stepped down, as the chief of the re-shuffled army. Due to the infighting among the two biggest parties, Prachanda, for the second time Thursday, put off the scheduled cabinet meeting that was to have announced the formation of the committee. More homework and parleys among the parties need to be done, the embattled Maoist chief told the news media. The merger of the PLA with the Nepal Army remains one of the biggest blocks in the ongoing peace process in Nepal.
Over 50,000 PLA fighters are leading a grim life in cantonments for nearly two years, hoping for eventual state recognition by being included in the state army. The merger was a key condition of the peace pact signed by the Maoists in 2006, which paved the way for their relinquishing [arms and the restoration of peace in insurgency-racked Nepal. The NC, which was the ruling party in 2006, had agreed to the condition. Now however, smarting under a poll defeat, it has begun opposing the integration, saying the PLA was a political motivated that could not be trusted to be non-partisan. The army is also opposing the merger. The army chief, Gen. Rukmangud Katawal, has said that the army would accept only those who met international recruitment norms. The Nepalese army showed a disagreement to the Maoist proposal since long back, when this issue of merger was put forward. CPN(M) clearly denies a complete peace process without the integration of the two forces and creating a ‘new’ national army.
The integration process was started in November 2011.