EDITORIALS: Scars of conflict

If the ethnic and marginalized communities, women, Dalits and Madhesis get reservation in all state mechanisms, why cannot the kin of the security personnel killed during the conflict?

It has been 10 years since the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed between the then government led by Girija Prasad Koirala and then rebel Maoists. It is the peace accord that officially ended the decade-long Maoist insurgency that claimed the lives of over 17,000 people including security personnel. As many as 5000 personnel of Nepal Police, 1100 personnel of the Nepal Army and around 1000 of the Armed Police Forces were killed during the insurgency. But the scars of mental and physical wounds of the insurgency still remain unhealed for those families who lost their near and dear ones during the conflict that pushed the country economically further behind and divided the nation on communal basis. The CPA had envisaged forming the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED), both of which were formed only last year with a mandate of finding truth about each and every incident related to the conflict and measures of reconciliation within two years. The government has provided financial support and other benefits to the Maoist combatants, families of the civilians and the security personnel killed during the conflict. But the families of the deceased security personnel still feel being ignored by the government though they had sacrificed their lives for the sake of nation.

During an interaction held on Tuesday most of the family members, especially widows of the security personnel, lamented that they had received meager financial support and other social benefits not enough to sustain their lives and support their children. Earlier the government had pledged to provide Rs 750,000 in cash as relief to the victims’ families, free education to children of the deceased security personnel up to 18 years of age and monthly allowances to the widows of the security personnel. They have demanded that their deceased spouses should be declared martyrs; their kin should be provided with Rs. one million like others who are declared martyrs and they must be given reservation in government jobs, including Nepal Police, Armed Police and Nepal Army where they had served.

The concerns raised by the families of the security personnel killed during the insurgency are valid and the government should take this issue sympathetically. The families of those people who served the nation during the most difficult time should be taken care of by the government which had also offered an attractive financial package to the Maoist combatants living in cantonments. If the ethnic and marginalized communities, women, Dalits and Madhesis get reservation in all state mechanisms why cannot the kin of the security personnel killed during the conflict get the same facilities? The children of the deceased and permanently disabled security personnel should be given free education up to higher level of studies and a certain quota must be spared for them in all government bodies for their well-being. The TRC and CIED may come up with its findings within the prescribed time along with its recommendations to heal the wounds of the conflict. But the government should also come up with its additional package to address their agony.

Shot in the arm

Nepal has done commendably well as far as the vaccination drive is concerned. However, there are no rules for this and in the past there were some casualties from inappropriate administering of the various vaccines. Thus, the Bill passed by the Parliament on vaccination making both government and the private sector responsible and accountable to issues related to vaccination should be taken up positively together with the new provision to penalize the guilty with fines up to Rs. 500,000. An investigation committee would decide on what punishment should be given to the erring ones and their vaccination services would be closed.

The new provisions make it compulsory to seek prior approval before administering the various vaccines. So far, 11 vaccines are provided free to children and pregnant mothers, while it is essential to pay for the rest. Since many Nepalese are poor, arrangements should be made to provide all with the vaccines that are essential to prevent various ailments.