Conflict victims see no end to their plight

Rukum, June 15

Eleven years have elapsed since the Comprehensive Peace Accord was signed, but the victims of the decade-long Maoist insurgency in Rukum are yet to get justice.

Sarita (name changed) of Khara was raped during the armed conflict. Her mental health is deteriorating, but she has not received any support from the government, let alone expenses for treatment.

Similarly, Subodh Serpali of Mahat-5 still has a bullet lodged in his body. A former Maoist combatant, Serpali, faces difficulty even doing his daily chores. The bullet embedded in his body constantly reminds him of the conflict.

Surul Pun of Ranmamaikot shares a similar plight. There are 35 shrapnel pieces embedded in different parts of his body. “I can never forget the conflict. The physical pain that I suffer constantly reminds me of it,” he said.

Conflict victims blamed that although Maoist leaders from Rukum such as Janardan Sharma, Lokendra Bista Magar, Ganesh Man Pun, Daljit Serpali, Kamala Roka and Bimala KC became ministers, they did nothing to alleviate the sufferings of conflict victims.

They have demanded that the government at least provide them treatment expenses and employment.

Stating that he lost both eyes during the conflict, Gopal Prasad Sharma, a district-level leader of the Nepali Congress, said, “Having lost both my eyes I am not even able to work for a living. Should not the state provide me with means to earn a livelihood?” he asked.

Another conflict victim Durga KC said she did not even get to see her husband’s body. Neither did she receive any compensation from the government.

Maoists hacked the hand Narjeet Basnet, a schoolteacher, during the conflict. “My wound will not heal until those responsible for my condition are tried and punished,” he said, adding that he had lost hope that the government would do anything to alleviate the pain of conflict victims like him.

Conflict victims claimed that they were neglected after the then Maoists joined mainstream politics. They said the hardships they went through would mean nothing if the government failed to bring development and prosperity.

Nepali Congress leader Prem Prakash Oli said it would be a betrayal to the martyrs who laid down their lives during the conflict, if problems like inflation, corruption, unemployment continued. Oli’s father had also attained martyrdom during the conflict.

The common people here feel that the politicians have betrayed the martyrs. The then CPN Maoist had to face a huge setback in Khara raid some two decades ago. Learning from this, the party had decided to give up war and join the peace process.

Rukum is the district worst hit by the conflict, which resulted in huge loss of lives and property here.