From left, Reena Rasaili with her brother Surendra Rasaili and cousin Maina Sunar.
KATHMANDU, Feb 13: On February 12, 2004, a 17-year-old girl was gang-raped and killed by Nepal Army soldiers for her alleged involvement in the Maoist party.
Reena Rasaili, a Dalit girl of Kavre, became a victim of the soldiers' atrocity. According to her family members, around 10 soldiers in plain clothes knocked at their door at around midnight. When her father Karna Bahadur Rasaili, refused to open the door, they forcefully got inside the house. Then they pulled Reena out of her bed and took her to the cattle shed where she was raped by five soldiers. She was exploited, tortured and beaten for five long hours, from 12 to 5 am.
In the morning, family members found her naked body in the backyard of their house. She had been shot thrice - in the head, breast and eye.
Her parents still break into tears when they recall the heinous incident that happened with their daughter 13 years ago. “My body shivers when I remember the painful cries of my innocent niece,” said Devi Sunuwar, Reena's aunt and an eyewitness of the gang-rape and murder. Devi, who raised her voice against the crime, was completely broken when the incident was repeated again on February 16, but this time it was her 15-year-old daughter, Maina Sunuwar. “We thought the soldiers were entrusted with the responsibility of providing security and protection to the people. But this is how they protect us,” She said.
Speaking at a program organized in memory of Reena, Gita Rasaili, her younger sister urged the representatives of various state institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission, Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the conflict victims' common platform and others to help them punish the accused and give them justice. She even expressed her disappointment with the representatives of some political parties who were absent at the program despite being invited. “Maybe this issue is not a priority for them,” Gita lamented.
Reena's family members have come to the capital all the way from Kavre to draw the attention of various parties, organizations, media and locals to the issue. “This is an open case of rape and murder. But why has the government not prosecuted the perpetrators even for such a long time?” Gita questioned.
Ram Kumar Bhandari of the Conflict Victims' Common Forum, who lost his father in the same war, stressed unity and coordination among various parties for providing justice to the conflict victims. “The state must work as the guardian of the victims and provide security to them to fight against the injustice,” Bhandari said.