ROLPA, Feb 13: For some Rolpa residents, Maoist party leaders have deviated from their insurgency-era paths and objectives after entering into mainstream politics. Despite being accused of abandoning their original ideology by their own elected localities, Maoist leaders officially celebrated the anniversary of the launch of People's War in Rolpa recently.
As such the celebrations mostly failed to attract the presence of the families of the victims of the armed conflicts. Families of the deceased and forceful disappeared, as well as those who suffered critical injuries leading to disabilities, did not show up in any of the programs.
To this day, Mangale Budha of Rolpa does not know why his son Bhuwan was killed in the conflict. At 82, he is currently struggling to feed his family, let alone manage expenses to treat his ailment in hospital.
In his village, Maoist leaders threw up vermilion powder in the air to celebrate the civil war followed by a feast. But in Budha's house, which is home to a martyr of the same People's War, stove for cooking did not lit up. Nor was there any medicine for the ailing old man who is still mourning his son's loss in his death bed.
Budha once thought that he knew what Maoism and communism stand for. After observing the country's Maoist and communist over the years, he no longer knows what they stand for. He has given up trying to understand their ideology.
“Two of my daughters have eloped. The only daughter who was taking care of me died during her childbirth. And my only son was killed by the army during the insurgency,” he said. “My living condition is horrible. My body aches due to cold and I cannot stand for long. I have no hope in life. I am only awaiting my death.”
Budha said that he no longer is worried about dying. Like him, surviving families of war victims said they have no hope for justice for those who lost their lives during the conflict.
Former combatant Nirmal BK, 31, said conflict survivors and families of the victims are living in severe pain. Although he was one of the thousands who supported the cause of the armed conflict and joined it while losing everything they had including their limbs and lives, he was not even remembered by the Maoist leaders while celebrating the People's War's 24th anniversary nearby.
His mother-in-law Kwari BK, 60, informed that Nirmal has been living with epilepsy. “It has been seven years since he is living with epilepsy but the last two years have been very painful,” she said.
According to her, one day when Nirmal was alone at home, he accidentally stepped on fire with his both legs. “We had no money to take him to the hospital so we attempted to treat him at home by applying local herbs. His burnt legs caused unbearable smell all over the house for some weeks thereafter."
Extreme poverty prevented the family from seeking appropriate medical treatment. He was kept in goat's shed for around a week after the stench from leg wounds became unbearable, the family said. The family barely makes enough to go by, let alone spend any money on his treatment.
The family recalls Nirmal's days being Maoist combatants as an unfortunate chapter of their life. “He fought for the Maoist's cause all those years. Today, he is fighting for his life without any support from the party that he was willing to die for,” added his mother-in-law.
Like Nirmal and Mangale, many families of war victims are ignored by the Maoist leaders despite their contribution during the insurgency. While Maoist leaders celebrate the People's War anniversary every year with program and parties, the war victims have no option other than to live a miserable life and without any support from the party.
“From being guerilla rebels in rural areas, the Maoist entered cities and eventually into the government. During the process, its leaders amassed a fortune and started living a lavish lifestyle,” said Surendra Thapa Gharti, Rolpa district in-charge of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
There are too many facts that force us to doubt their stated intentions for launching the People's War, he added.
Law expert Bhimarjun Acharya, who is also an advocate of social and political rights, said it is shameful for the Maoist leaders to bask on the glory of civil war on ethical, political and social grounds. “They have already abandoned everything they stood for. Calling that the civil war was their contribution and organizing programs for the same is to fool people.”
The ruling NCP celebrated the 24th anniversary of People's War anniversary in Gorkha, Rukkum, and Pokhara among other places on Wednesday. Party members, including Chief Minister of Gandaki Province Prithivi Subba Gurung, exchanged wishes and glorified the People's War and its achievements while positioning it as being as being exemplary in the world.