Conflict victims decry apathy

Pokhara, February 15

Fifteen years after the Maoist insurgency, the whereabouts of Netra Prasad Baral has yet to be known. He was only 23 years old when he was abducted.

“We don’t want money or compensation. Dead or alive, we want him back,” said Netra’s father Ananath at an interaction held on transitional justice in Pokhara today. The victim’s father wanted to carry out the final rites of his son in case Netra was no more.

The interation organised by National Human Rights Commission saw participation of many stricken family members. “The state talks much about providing justice to the victims but how will justice prevail when victims like us don’t know the whereabouts of our kin years after they disappeared?” Ananath asked at the programme.

Fifty-seven-year-old Krishna Prasad Dhungana of Kaski was injured in an explosion carried out by the then Maoist rebels in Chipledhunga of Pokhara about 12 years ago. Millions of rupees were spent for his treatment and the state granted him a meagre 40,000 rupees in the name of treatment expenses. “Every year, interactions are held but to no avail,” a visibly angry Dhungana said, while most of the victims raised question regarding the existence of the NHRC, and other rights organisations that have failed to achieve anything tangible towards ensuring justice to the conflict victims.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairperson Lokendra Mallik admitted there was slow progress in investigation of conflict era cases citing lack of manpower and budget. “We ourselves are unsatisfied with our work, let alone victims who suffered first-hand,” said Mallik, adding, “The government must provide manpower and budget to the TRC, along with an extension of mandate by a year or so to achieve something tangible.”

Stressing justice to the victims, NHRC member Sudip Pathak sought cooperation from all stakeholders to ensuring justice.