ROLPA, May 18: Every next household in the villages of Rolpa lives with the hidden wounds of the decade-long Maoist insurgency. Hundreds were killed and disappeared from Rolpa, the epicenter of the bloody war. While the nation still struggles to address the insurgency-era complaints, leaving the victims largely disappointed, the severely-hit people in Rolpa have stated that the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 has left them even more disturbed. Unlike the normal days, they now have plenty of time to miss and long for their beloved family members who they lost to the conflict.
"I was very young when I saw my father being killed," said Shree Kumar Rokka of Thabang – 5. Her father, according to her, was killed by the rebels in 1997. "It’s such a tragic and unforgettable incident in my life, but it's strange that those scenes are coming back like a flashback so fresh in my mind. It may be because I am staying home round the clock," she added.
According to her, the lockdown which has been extended time and again has given a tough time to all conflict-hit families. Those whose family members were killed, those whose family members disappeared and those who themselves are living with one or the other kind of disabilities due to the injuries of the war – the three types - need help, she stressed.
For the first time, the government imposed a lockdown across the country in view of COVID-19 on March 24. Though the reports were not that scary until recently, the cases have dramatically risen to nearly 300 and a 29-year-old lady and a 25-year-old man have lost their lives due to the virus. While no one expects any easy time ahead, health workers in Rolpa have urged the government for a separate budget for mental health issues to tackle them in the days to come. According to them, such problems in Rolpa have actually already surfaced.
"This is a sensitive zone from different angles. The lockdown has already triggered a rise in the number of people with psychological problems. We should take it very seriously," noted Dr Anil KC of Rolpa District Hospital. "Single women, pregnant women and those who are living in quarantine for long have been complaining of different kinds of stress," he added.
According to Dr KC, the isolated life due to the lockdown has fallen hard on different categories of people and they are showing the signs of anxiety and depression, calling for a focused treatment. "It’s better if we have a separate budget focused on this," he marked.
Prakriti Bhattarai, a doctor at Sulichaur Primary Health Center also stresses the need to get ready to handle mental issues among people. Since daily routines of the people have come to a standstill, many will find it very hard to handle the situation, she said. "The isolated life is certainly challenging for all but it is more so for some. We should prepare facilities and mechanisms to deal with the matter," she stated.
Also, according to Superintendent of Police (SP) Chitra Bahadur Gurung, chief of the district police office of Rolpa, things are not all well in Rolpa. Students are also frustrated and need psychological help. "The lockdown or the stay-home orders sound an easy way. But it is not so. We have noticed a growing frustration among commoners here," he said, adding that crimes would rise if things are not addressed sensibly.
A total of 969 were killed and 33 disappeared from Rolpa district during the conflict as per the record of the local peace committee. Noticeably, Rolpa boycotted general elections for long showing the lack of trust in the government and handling of the conflict-era issues and for the same reason, 'not all came forward to lodge their complaints'.