BAJHANG, July 24: It has been more than four years since Surendra Damai,40, a former Maoist combatant, has been struggling with life in a small dilapidated hut, which too is built in someone else's land because he doesn't have his own land.
Damai, who had joined a Maoist guerilla unit in order to fight for the freedom of people, is obliged to live a miserable life in his little hut in Kedar Seu Rural Municipality, Jhota. During the Maoist insurgency, he participated in several battles. In 2002, he sustained serious injuries in his back during an encounter with the Nepal Army at Ran Lek of Bajhang. At that time, he could not even walk properly. Later, he had to go to India for treatment. But that has weakened him forever.
“I fought for the freedom of others but unfortunately could not free myself,” he said, adding “I played with my life for the party and people but couldn't earn a penny for my family.” His body has been so weak that he can hardly perform any household work. Neither the party nor the government has provided him any financial help.
During the conflict period, his family members had to struggle a lot in his absence. According to his wife, Mainmati Damai, 39, the landlord continuously pressurized her to leave the rented room while security personnel started questioning her about her husband and even threatened her. “We have heard that the land that we are currently living is of Babu Saheb of Bugle Satta,” Surendra said. His family of seven has been managing their life in misery in the congested hut. They have been begging and working at others' homes to survive. Surendra has three sons and two daughters who are too small to work. “We don't know how we are going to live,” he laments.
With expectations of getting relief, he has time and again visited the District Administration Office (DAO), Squatter's Commission, Dalit Commission and several I/NGOs but none of them was ready to help him. “Leaders like Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattrai who are responsible for our miserable condition have time and again been elected the prime minister, but what about us?” he asks.
Incessant rainfall often disturbs their sleep. Family members have time and again been suffering from diarrhea and dysentery due to poor diet and contaminated water. “Fighting for others' rights used to be a matter of pride but I never knew that there would come a time when we would be this helpless and no one will fight for our rights,” he said, adding “We have been living the lives of dogs.”
Assistant Chief District Officer Tek Singh Kunwar informed that Surendra has time and again visited DAO and the office has even made his file but his problem cannot be solved by the administration. “We will be forwarding his file to the ministry as soon as the chief District Officer returns,” he said.