Rukum conflict victims seek justiceEleven years after the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed by the government and the then Maoists, victims continue to live in various parts of the country with the scars and trauma of the decade-long conflict, and little hope of justice and relief.
Eleven years after the Comprehensive Peace Accord signed by the government and the then Maoists, victims continue to live in various parts of the country with the scars and trauma of the decade-long conflict, and little hope of justice and relief.
Sarita, (name-changed) resident of Khara, lives with the social stigma and trauma of rape she suffered during the armed conflict. She suffers mental health issues, inflicted by the horrifying incident. She seeks recompense, but the state “is not serious about her treatment”.
A bullet lodged in his body constantly reminds Subodh Serpali the horrors of the armed conflict. An ex-combatant of the then Maoists and resident of Mahat-5, he deals with discomfort everyday because of the ‘souvenir’ he carries.
Serpali is not the only ex-combatant carrying evidence of the conflict.
Ranmamaikot resident Surul Pun still has fragments of shrapnel in 35 locations inside his body. “How can I ever forget the conflict? The shrapnel pieces are a constant reminder,” he said.
Foreign bodies like shrapnel can exist as inert encapsulated objects for an entire human lifespan. Medical experts say human body can “tolerate well embedded shrapnel”. Many surgeons leave small fragments of shrapnel inside the body because they have little potential to cause harm.
Some victims of the conflict blame Maoist leaders for their plight. Following the peace accord, leaders from Rukum such as Janardan Sharma, Lokendra Bista Magar, Ganesh Man Pun, Daljit Serpali, Kamala Roka and Bimala KC of Rukum who became ministers are not serious about resolving the problems, some victims say.
Most seek state aid for medical treatment and relief. The government should offer medical treatment to those carrying injuries sustained during the conflict and employment, some victims demand. District-level Nepali Congress leader Gopal Prasad Sharma said, “I lost both my eyes. How can I lead a normal life? The state should make arrangement for my livelihood.”
Another victim, Durga KC could not even see her husband’s body. She says she hopes getting justice rather than compensation from the government.
Maoists hacked the hand of teacher Narjeet Basnet during the conflict period. He is disabled for life. “My wounds will not heal until those responsible for this crime are tried and punished. The wounds remain, the state has done nothing to alleviate it,” he said. The conflict victims rue that the state continues to ignore their plight even after many Maoists joined the government after the peace process.
Conflict survivors say the aspirations of those who laid down their lives for a just cause would be fulfilled, if the transitional justice completes its mandated tasks.
Nepali Congress leader Prem Prakash Oli said the dreams of their relatives who laid down their lives and those wounded in the conflict would get some relief if the government addresses inflation, corruption, unemployment that still prevail. Oli’s father had also attained martyrdom during the conflict.
Former CPN Maoist party faced a major setback during the raid in Khara two decades ago. Learning from this setback, party leaders decided to give up arms and war and join the peace process after discussions during its convention in Chunawang held in 2062 BS. The Maoists and the then government signed a seven-point agreement to move towards peace process.
The Maoist party that had started the People’s War from Chunawang also ended the war from the same place.
Rukum was one of the most affected districts during the armed conflict. It lost many lives and suffered damages to properties. Many families were displaced and many were injured. The legacy of the conflict is scores of widows and orphans. Many women live on the hope seeing their missing children one day.
The conflict has inflicted deeps wound in the hearts of many people. Citizens think politicians and leaders from their area have abandoned them and are focusing only on furthering their interests.