The missing fields

The ill treatment meted out by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) officials to the relatives of some missing persons who had been staging a protest before the commission’s office since Thursday is indeed shocking. As such, the family members and relatives of the missing are already in a state of deep mental agony. They are found to be literally running from pillar to post — army barracks, police stations and even jails — in the hope of getting any information whether their missing kin are dead or alive. But unfortunately, when they approach the authorities with their grievances, not only their pleas fall on deaf ears but also what they receive in return is often manhandling. Some rights activists have, therefore, asked the NHRC members to quit for failing to be what they ought to be.

At present Nepali politics is passing through an extremely critical phase. When violations of human rights, both by the state and the Maoists, are rampant and people are disappeared, the role played by the NHRC and rights defenders cannot go unscathed. The NHRC members and rights activists must try their best to help these people. But reports of maltreatment by these very people naturally raise a widespread concern. Certainly, the bad publicity Thursday’s incident has provoked will hardly do any credit to the NHRC’s image, whose officer-bearers already face controversy over the mode of their appointment, in the absence of an elected government. According to the NHRC, by sending a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet, it has urged the government to make clear the status of 775 missing persons whereas the Society of Missing People’s Family states that 891 are missing. Whatever the number, the government must end the agony of the missing persons as well as their relatives by quickly divulging their whereabouts. Those responsible for the ‘disappearances’ should be brought to book, however high their positions may be, by a competent and impartial panel.