Govt adding unnecessary layer for financial aid distribution to martyrs’ families by establishing a commission

Published On: January 17, 2024 10:15 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Jan 17: The government is gearing up to establish a commission dedicated to disbursing financial aid to the families of martyrs. Sources at the Prime Minister's Office said that a commission, set to be announced soon, will be formed specifically for the distribution of financial assistance in honor of the martyrs. Discussions regarding the commission's formation are underway in the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is anticipated that the commission will be officially established in the near future to facilitate financial support for the families of the martyrs.

According to sources, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Deputy Prime Minister/Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha have reached an agreement to establish the commission for distributing financial aid to the families of the martyrs. Currently, Home Minister Shrestha is in the process of discussing the commission's formation, as it requires approval from the home ministry and subsequently the council of ministers.

But the officials of the home ministry have expressed their disagreement towards the formation of such a commission. High-ranking officials of the home ministry are against the idea of forming such a commission despite Home Minister Shrestha instructing them to initiate the process. They argue that the idea of distributing financial aid through the formation of such a commission could be detrimental to the government.

The government has been providing one million rupees in financial aid to the families of martyrs without the approval from a formal commission. However, a new initiative is underway to form a commission that will provide additional financial support in the name of martyrs, supplementing the existing one million rupees in assistance. This move comes in response to a rising trend in the country where there is pressure to declare individuals who lose their lives in conflicts and accidents as martyrs, making them eligible for a financial assistance of one million rupees.

Labeling individuals as martyrs without adhering to the necessary criteria is considered disrespectful to genuine martyrs. The ongoing dispute centers on the definition of who qualifies as a martyr and who does not. Following the 2006/07 people's movement, the government established two commissions to address this issue, but as of now, the recommendations from these commissions have not been implemented.

The government has not even made that report public. But the ministry sources claim that the one that is being built now is purely for the distribution of financial aid.

After the controversy and debate about who should be considered a martyr started, the government formed a commission under the chairmanship of the then UML leader Modanath Prashrit. The commission formed under the coordination of former minister Prasrit submitted its report on December 1, 2009 while another commission formed under the chairmanship of Nawaraj Subedi submitted its report in 2011. But the government has not yet made public the reports of the two commissions.  The commission under Prasrit took three months to visit all of the then five development regions of the country and take suggestions. At that time, suggestions of 700 people and the family of martyrs were taken into account. But that report is still not publicized.

The commission at that time submitted the report to the government saying that only those killed by the state should be recognized as martyrs for the best interest of the country and the people. It also mentioned that the definition of martyrdom should be defined on this basis as this practice is also prevalent in the international arena. At that time, the report was not made public due to the opposition from the then Maoist leaders. 

In the coming days, the government is set to expand the list of martyrs through an official notice in the Nepal Gazette. A commission will be established to incorporate the newly identified martyrs, adding a total of 2,600 individuals, including those who lost their lives in various accidents. Once the notice is published in the Nepal Gazette, the total count of martyrs in Nepal will rise to 14,797.

A cabinet meeting held last Tuesday decided to declare additional martyrs. The Government of Nepal aims to rectify the details of individuals previously declared as martyrs on different dates. It will publish the names of the martyrs exempted from publication in the Nepal Gazette and officially announce the inclusion of the newly identified 2,600 martyrs.

As of now, the government has officially recognized and listed 12,197 individuals as martyrs. This count encompasses the period from 1991/92 to 2022/23, during which the government made announcements acknowledging these individuals as martyrs. The decision to declare someone a martyr is processed through the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers on June 4, 2006 acknowledged 21 individuals who lost their lives during the mass movement of April 2006 as martyrs. 

Additionally, the list of martyrs includes 2,894 individuals from various sectors such as the police, army, armed forces, civil servants, and the National Investigation Department, all of whom lost their lives during the Maoist conflict. The list includes 6,946 individuals associated with the Maoist group and 1,626 civilians, totaling 8,572 people, who were officially declared as martyrs. In subsequent negotiations, the government extended the recognition of martyrdom to those who lost their lives during the Terai Madhesh movement and individuals who died in the course of various other movements. 

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