The government's decision to declare February 13, the day the Maoists started an armed insurgency in Nepal in 1996, as the People's War Day and a public holiday has come under fire from families of thousands of victims, who took to the streets to protest the government's decision.

Victims' groups and civil society organisations staged protest outside Kathmandu CDO's office and the Kathmandu District Court against yesterday's decision of the Council of Ministers to declare public holiday on the People's War Day. They were demanding that the government revoke its decision to declare public holiday on February 13.

Human rights activist, founding member of NHRC, and the first commissioner of NHRC, Sushil Pyakurel, said by declaring February 13 People's War Day and a public holiday, the government was celebrating death as thousands had died during the decade-long insurgency.

Charan Prasai, a human rights defender, said by declaring February 13 a public holiday the government had shown that it was not on the side of the victims, but on the side of the perpetrators of violence.

Mahamunishwar Acharya, said February 13 could not be accepted as the People's War Day.

He said the insurgency was not a people's war, but an armed violent rebellion.

Families of victims said they has not yet received justice. They said thousands who were forcibly disappeared were still missing.

Suman Adhikari, who heads National Federation of Deaf Nepal (NDFN) said the government had imposed its decision on citizens and the parties who should have opposed the decision had supported the decision by remaining silent. He said NDFN would move the Supreme Court against the government's decision.

Rita Karki, whose husband was killed during insurgency, said the government was celebrating his violent death.

Purni Maya, alleged that her husband was killed by Maoists in 2005. "I had filed a case against six people, including former speaker Agni Sapkota. The case is sub judice in the Supreme Court, but the SC has been extending the date of hearing for more than a decade. I have no hope of justice from this government."

The Nepali Congress, which supported Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal during the trust vote but considers itself the main opposition party, has remained silent on the issue. However, a few of its leaders did speak up against yesterday's decision.

Nepali Congress' Shekhar Koirala wrote on Twitter: " The prime minister says public holidays should be reduced, but then announces a holiday in the name of People's War Day, which is not recognised by the constitution."

NC's Minendra Rizal said declaring February 13 "People's War Day" was against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the constitution.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 14, 2023, of The Himalayan Times.