Rebels with a Cause

Photograph for TIME by Tomas Munita

Revolutionary fervor: Maoist leader Prachanda, on a Kathmandu billboard, above, says he's ready to play politics.

Comrade Sandhya's voice trembles as she speaks of her father. "He was a major in the Royal Nepalese Army," she begins, cupping her chin with one hand while rearranging a neat schoolgirl plait with the other. "When he found out I had gone underground, he said I was no longer his daughter — only his enemy. The next time he wanted to meet me was on the battlefield."

That encounter, to Sandhya's relief, never came to pass. In 1996, as a 14-year-old student from a town north of the capital Kathmandu, she joined Nepal's...

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