CHITWAN, JUNE 6
Today marks the completion of 16 years of the horrible Madi Bandarmudhe blast which ended in the tragic death of 42 people, leaving many more injured.
The incident occurred when the then rebellious Maoists ambushed a passenger bus.
Among those who died in the incident, three were Nepali Army personnel.
Thirty-nine people were killed in the incident while three died in the course of treatment. The bus was caught in the ambush near Bandarmudhe River on 6 June 2005 as it was heading for Bharatpur from Bagai of Madhi.
Though years have passed since the incident, justice for them still remains a far cry, victims say. They complained that their pains and woes remained unhealed throughout these years.
Bishnu Maya BK of Ganeshgunj in Madi Municipality and her 14-month-old daughter (at that time) were among the people travelling in the ill-fated bus. Bishnu Maya got her right leg fractured and her daughter suffered injury. Her baby received blast wounds on her leg. "But we are still waiting for justice," she said.
Susmita, who suffered in the incident as a child, is now a 10th grade student at the local Krishnanagar School. "I have been living with multiple post-incident health complications such as constant back pain and headache," she complained.
Vice-chairman of the Bandarmudhe Incident Victims' Struggle Committee, Krishna Prasad Adhikari, said people like him were scourged by similar grief and pain that befell them following the blast.
Six survivors are living with post-blast mental illness while seven others who were left mutilated have been under regular medication since then.
"Though 16 years have passed, justice continues to elude the victims,'' he complained.
He further said they could not feel the presence of the government during these tough moments of life.
Adhikari had to use crutches for four years after the incident.
Both his legs were fractured.
It may be noted that CPN-Maoist Centre Chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal who had won the previous election of the House of Representatives from Chitwan 3 had assured he would address the issues of Bandharmudhe explosion survivors. However, no substantive move has been taken yet to heal their wounds.
They demand justice with truth, repatriation and punishment for the guilty as per the degree of crime.
Madhi Municipality Mayor Thakur Dhakal, however, said free education up to grade 12 was ensured for the victims' children. The victims can get free medical treatment within Madhi. So far, Rs 100,000 has been provided to 35 families each and the remaining 35 families will receive compensation within the current fiscal.
Sixty-four families have registered details with the local government, identifying themselves as victims of Bandarmudhe blast.
Bagmati Province government has launched a project to construct a memorial park at the incident site. "This year around, a boundary wall will be constructed in the area and Rs four million has been allocated for the same," Mayor Dhakal informed.
The park will have busts of those killed in the blast, kindergarten, and garden, among other structures. The park will occupy an area of two bigha, eight kattha. The estimated budget of the project is Rs 80 million. This morning, the victims' families visited the incident site to light lamps in ,commemoration of their loved ones who were killed in the incident.
A version of this article appears in the print on June 7, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.