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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nepal: Inside Cantonment, Maoists Turn to Facebook

Anup Kaphle,
for the Pulitzer Center
Kathmandu, Nepal

When the power was back after almost 10 hours of outage at the People’s Liberation Army cantonment in Jhyaltungdada, Comrade Khum Bahadur Lamsal wasted no time to turn on the computer and log onto his Facebook account. He had three notifications waiting for him - all responses to his last status update.
“Everyone talks about love and affection,” Lamsal wrote. “Now shall we for once talk about the state of our country?”
Far from the Internet phenomenon in Kathmandu, Maoist combatants living inside UN-monitored camps have found a new way to kill time – Facebook. Most of the users are fairly new to the social-networking site, some who have only joined for a week. But whether it is a commander who has been on Facebook for three months or a combatant who recently joined the site, discussing the country’s political deadlock and spreading communist principles are on top of their list.
Around 900 members of the People’s Liberation Army live at the Jhyaltungdada cantonment in Nawalparasi, which sits on top of a hill about three kilometers from the nearest highway. Lamsal couldn’t exactly tell how many computers they had access to but he said that the entire cantonment probably had around 60 computers, all of them with Internet access.

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