Ex-Maoist fighter’s presence in TRC body draws flak

Kathmandu, March 28

A fresh controversy has surfaced after Truth and Reconciliation Commission inducted an ex-Maoist fighter into a mechanism set up to screen complaints from the conflict-victims.

TRC has decided to collect complaints of the victims of decade-long Maoist insurgency beginning April 17 and has asked the district peace committees across the country to coordinate the task.

TRC has set up a nine-member Monitoring and Vigilance Committee under TRC member Manchala Jha to check impartiality and fairness of DPC work.

Chitwan’s Nisha Neupane, who was a Maoist fighter during insurgency, has also been made one of its members.

TRC member Mahhabi Bhatta put a ‘note of dissent’ on the decision and demanded to scrap the MVC, as TRC itself is capable of overseeing DPC work.

“As Maoist rebels were party to the conflict  along with the state  how well she, as a Maoist fighter, can represent the entire victims of the Maoist rebellion?” Bhatta told The Himalayan Times.

Bhatta said with the presence of the ex-Maoist fighter in the MVC, conflict victims might refrain from lodging complaints fearing ‘vengeance’ in future.

She raised the question during a meeting of TRC today and Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung said he would look into the matter.

Other members of the committee are human rights defenders and activists Megh Bahadur Khatri, Anil Gyawali, Netra Bahadur Bhandari, Krishna Bahadur Thapaliya and Bhakta Raj Lama.

Talking to this daily, Nisha admitted that she was a Maoist fighter but claimed that she was also a victim, as her father was forcibly disappeared during the conflict by the state. “Despite being a Maoist fighter, I didn’t get involved in any criminal offence,” she claimed.

Her husband, Ram Chandra Adhikari, is also an ex-Maoist fighter and they tied the knot during the insurgency that started in February 1996 and ended in November 2006.

Though MVC Coordinator Jha, refused to talk about the controversy, a source said that during the TRC’s meeting Jha had tried to downplay the issue, saying Vice-President Nanda Kishor Pun and Speaker Onsari Gharti were also ex-Maoist fighters.

A human rights defender based in Chitwan, who knows Nisha personally, told THT that she used to share her experience of battles she was involved in during the ‘war era’.