Dozens of people registered as disappeared during Maoist insurgency found aliveIn the last six years, the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons has received 3,223 complaints of enforced disappearances implicating either security forces or the rebel Maoists.
On August 31, Khum Lal Sharma from Nisikhola Rural Municipality, Baglung filed a complaint at the District Police Office, Baglung against three local Maoist leaders accusing them of abducting and disappearing his wife during the insurgency in 2005.
As per the complaint, his wife was taken away by the Maoists on December 1, 2005 on the charge of having illicit relationship with one of their leaders. He filed similar complaints at the local peace committee, the National Human Rights Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons on different dates. With the transitional justice mechanism making no efforts to search for his missing wife, Sharma last week approached the police for help.
Police soon launched an investigation and found that the woman thought to be missing had remarried and was living in Galkot Municipality in the same district.
“A person who knew Sushila sent us a TikTok video clip featuring her. Khum Lal, her former husband, has confirmed that it is her,” Ram Sharma, a lawyer from Baglung who supported Khim Lal to file the police complaint, told the Post. “The Maoist leaders had claimed she was alive and they were right. I will contact her soon.”
He said they were, however, unaware whether she had fled the Maoists or was released by them and opted for a second marriage. The Post was unable to contact Khum Lal.
In the last six years, the commission has received 3,223 complaints of enforced disappearances implicating either security forces or the Maoists. After looking into the complaints, the commission has identified 2,494 cases that fall under its jurisdiction for investigation.
The latest report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, however, says 1,333 people are still missing in connection with the decade-long Maoist insurgency that ended with the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006.
Sunil Ranjan Singh, a member of the disappearance commission, said the commission has found 32 people alive among those who have been registered as the victims of enforced disappearances but it has no information on Sushila. He says as the authorities and the commissions didn’t make adequate efforts to inquire about the persons, who were said to have been disappeared but found alive later. “The status of the 32 persons would have been ascertained years ago had the authorities made efforts,” Singh told the Post.
Officials at the commission say they have information that eight others who are listed as disappeared are alive and that the commission is trying to contact them. The peace agreement stipulated that both sides—the state and the Maoists—would make public, within 60 days of the signing of the agreement, the information including the real names, castes, and addresses of those who were disappeared or killed during the insurgency, and inform the family members. However, both sides failed to fulfill the promise.
Officials at the disappearance commission say some of those thought to have been disappeared but later found alive were detained by either the Maoists or the security forces and released after torture or escaped from capitivities. Fearing for their lives, they fled to India as returning to their families or contacting them was not safe. And worried families back home registered disappearance complaints, according to the officials.
Gangadhar Adhikari, spokesperson for the commission, said some of such people had moved away from their hometowns or villages in fear and settled elsewhere without the knowledge of their families.
“In some cases, families filed disappearance complaints to claim the government relief,” he told the Post. “Among the 32 cases, the families of around six or seven people had received the compensations from the government.”
The victim families whose members have disappeared have each been provided Rs1 million in compensation but not all have received the amount. The report of the disappearance commission shows only 1,227 such families have received the compensation.