Eternal waitThe Nirmala Kurmi case is yet another instance of the state’s indifference to the plight of its citizens.
Published at : January 26, 2023
Updated at : January 27, 2023 17:41
Four weeks have passed since a group of women came to Kathmandu from Nepalgunj seeking justice for the death of Nakunni Dhobi and the disappearance of Nirmala Kurmi. This is the third time the women, often accompanied by a few men, have stationed themselves at Maitighar. Earlier, in October 2021, they had walked 500 km from Nepalgunj to Kathmandu, reaching the national capital in 20 days, informing people en route of their plight. They were sent home after a probe committee was formed to investigate the matter. Nothing happened. The women returned to the national capital in December 2021 and, after 42 days of protest, again went back home with the promise of a fresh CIB investigation. The CIB, meanwhile, has failed to act impartially even as it has made a few arrests on charges of illegally transferring Kurmi’s land worth millions.
Badshah Kurmi, a Nepali Congress leader accused in the disappearance, continues to roam free. A powerful leader, Badshah terrorises women who have dared to raise their voices for justice. They are now at a point of no return; they are worried about their safety when they return to the same place where Badshah is still free and powerful. Meanwhile, the Congress politician is being protected by his own party, which never fails to highlight its democratic credentials. The party has maintained a considered silence in Badshah’s case, just as it had on Aftab Alam’s murders. Clearly, the state and the party system are conniving with the who’s who of politics while denying justice to commoners.
Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane earlier this month visited the protestors, asking them to end the protests. He promised them justice, but the women cannot rest assured until actual justice is served. If Lamichhane's recent statements are anything to go by, his hands are tied, as is evident by his failure to bring to book Laxmi Mahato Koiri, an accused in the murder of a Nepal Police personnel during the Madhesh agitation. In a press statement last week, he said the police had failed to act on his oral instructions to arrest Koiri. In Badshah's case, while the home minister should not have had any problem in instructing the police to arrest the accused and start investigating, he has as yet failed to do so.
Lamichhane, while meeting the protestors, even claimed he would resign if he failed to ensure justice for the victims. However, the protesters perhaps know that Nepali political leaders seldom keep their promises. So they continue to protest, unconvinced by the promises, and are mulling going on an indefinite strike if their demands are not fulfilled. Meanwhile, the police continue to detain peaceful protestors.
What is significant about this protest is that it is almost entirely led by women, although men have some supporting role. They have kept the hope alive even after 11 years of Kurmi's disappearance. It is no small act of defiance despite the paucity of protesters who gather at Maitighar on a daily basis. They are here not just for Kurmi, but for other women who too might become victims of violence. Ultimately, they are here to call for truth and justice, as their protest pamphlets and banners show. The state has failed them each day by its indifference, letting them know that this is no country for women.