29 years of armed conflict: Victims still await justice

Bijay Nepal 14 Feb 2024
29 years of armed conflict: Victims still await justice

POKHARA: Dudraj Adhikari, from Lahachowk, Kaski, was injured when a landmine planted by Maoist cadres went off as he was leaving his sister’s place in Gagangauda after celebrating Bhaitika. He lost one kidney pierced by shrapnel, and he cannot move his right arm.

“I was ambushed near Lekhnath Chowk. I heard a loud sound. I remember nothing else,” he said.

Dudraj got a second life after extensive treatment in Kathmandu and Pokhara. But the scars of the Maoist conflict will always remain with him. He used to work in a furniture manufacturing unit but lost his livelihood. The state has classified him as a disability grade ‘B’ and provides him with an allowance of Rs 9,000 per month.

Kalpana Bhandari, from Kushma, Parbat, became helpless after she lost her husband, Anil, in the Maoist attack. Anil, a Nepal Army soldier, was ambushed by Maoists 19 years ago during a regular patrol in the Chhinchu area of Surkhet. The responsibility of looking after their two-year-old son fell on Kalpana. Since there was no means of livelihood in Kushma to support her, she came to Pokhara, where she took up menial jobs to support her son’s education. Her son Prabin is now 22 years old.

“Although the government has made many promises for conflict-hit families, such assurances are limited to mere lip service. Many people like my husband sacrificed their lives for the country, but the state is neglecting us,” Kalpana said. She mentioned that she has received nothing other than Rs 750,000 in compensation provided by the state. “We will continue our protest until justice is delivered to conflict-hit families,” she added.

Prabha Dhakal (37), from Bhanu in Tahanhu, has also lost her husband. Her husband, Nabaraj Dhakal, was injured in a Maoist attack on a Nepal Army camp in Myagdi 20 years ago. Nabaraj succumbed to his injuries after treatment for nearly three months at the army hospital. “I haven’t received even a penny in compensation,” said Prabha, who lives in Ranipauwa in Kaski with her daughter Pushpa, who is now 20.

Ram Chandra Bishwakarma, from Sardikhola in Kaski, also has a lot of suffering to share. He was injured when a bomb went off as he was heading to his friend’s home 17 years ago. Six children, including Ram Chandra, were injured in the incident. He lost both his legs. Ram Chandra, now 33, runs a small shop selling bags in Lamachaur, Pokhara. He now has artificial limbs and moves between his home and shop using a scooter. “The government should help people like us to procure artificial limbs. We should be provided employment based on our skills and capacity,” Ram Chandra said, adding that it cost him Rs 250,000 to procure artificial limbs.

The decade-long conflict, initiated by the then CPN (Maoist) in 1995, came to an end with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 2006. The country has witnessed massive political and social changes after the end of the conflict. The management of arms and Maoist soldiers concluded successfully. However, conflict victims like Dudraj, Kalpana, Prabha, and Ram Chandra have not been able to get justice.

The state doesn’t even have exact data on people rendered physically disabled by the conflict in Gandaki Province. “The government estimates the number at around 1,500. But the number excludes many of our friends,” Ram Chandra added.

Kalpana said the peace process won’t reach its conclusion unless the state addresses issues of conflict victims.

Even after all these years, the victims of the conflict have not been able to get justice. They demand that the transitional justice law amendment proposal under consideration in the Parliament should be passed immediately in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Supreme Court’s decision, and the commitments made by the nation in the international arena and the concerns of the conflict-affected communities.

Over 17,000 people lost their lives during the decade-long conflict.

Published On: 14 Feb 2024


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