War-hit children’s protest ends

To return with renewed vigour if their demands are not met

Kathmandu, June 8:

Conflict-hit children from various parts of the country today concluded their week-long protest programme by staging a sit-in in front of the PM’s residence at Baluwatar.

A participant of the sit-in, 19-year-old Gyanu Chaudhary from Mahamadpur VDC, Bardia, said the government should see to it that children who lost their near and dear ones in the conflict eke out a living.

Chaudhary, a class 11 student of Babai Multiple Campus in Gulariya, said she and her mother had to face a lot of hardships after her father was arrested and killed in 1998. “Even my sister was abducted in 2002 and her whereabouts are still not known.”

“I had to then leave school and the village for fear of being arrested. I now demand the government declare my father a martyr.” Though she got an opportunity to continue studies with the school’s scholarship, every one is not that lucky, she said.

Another 16-year-old girl from Kalikot, Krishna Kala Budha, said: “We demand free education and arrangements for meeting our basic requirements. “There are lots of conflict-hit children who are neglected and the government needs to honour and address their demands.”

Budha said they will be forced to announce further protest programmes if the government fails to address their demands. Fourteen-year-old Naresh Kumar Pun from Salyan, however, had a different view. “I am hopeful, but don’t rely completely on the government.” Pun said he lost both his parents in 2004 after security forces arrested them. “This programme has been beneficial to me and given me an opportunity to travel to Kathmandu,” he said.

The children handed over an empty bag and a plate to the personal secretary of the PM, demanding their rights to education, food and shelter be ensured.

Dipak Devkota of the All Nepal National Independent Students ‘ Union (Revolutionary) said that even though a member of the Maoist party is the Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare, the children’s issues have not been addressed as yet.