He has got no justice even after a court verdict in his favor
CHITWAN, Dec 2: Bed Prasad Regmi, 56, cannot move around without crutches. His back aches and muscle cramps sometimes 'kill' him. He is unable to work and earn like other normal persons but his medical expenses are quite high. "The conflict ruined my life," he laments.
Regmi, a local of Shahinagar of Chitwan was active in politics since his young days. Later, his family migrated to Rupandehi for business. There he joined the CPN-UML officially. He became the treasurer of a local chapter of the party's youth wing. On May 4, 2004, he had taken ill and was resting at home. At around 8 pm, some people stormed into his house and asked him to go with them. "Some of them were familiar to me, some were strangers, and even army men were there. They insisted me to go with them. They told the party had summoned me," Regmi narrated.
The men took him outside forcefully and started thrashing him after reaching an open place nearby. He remembers being hit on the head before getting unconscious.
When he regained his senses, he was in a hospital. Reportedly, he had been thrown near a temple. Some locals spotted him and took him to the hospital. "I was at Lumbini Zonal Hospital where the doctors told me that my right leg needed to be amputated. I also had a severe head injury."
According to his wife Sharada, the family suffered a lot because of his injured leg. Though the doctors first told him that the leg needed to be amputated, later they tried to save it. And Regmi had to go through leg surgery several times. "As that was not getting better, doctors again considered amputation. But they gave it a last try and finally it was not amputated."
This process proved very costly to the family, emotionally as well as financially. Apart from the time and energy, the family spent a lot of rupees for the treatment. "Four years of consistent treatment cost us all the assets we had. We took him to Kathmandu. There he was taken to private hospitals and then Bir Hospital. We spent 1.6 million rupees for his treatment," the wife said. Regmi adds that the land they had in Shahinagar had to be sold. Later, they sold the land they had in Kerbani. Now, the family is living on a piece of land provided by Sharada's parents in Bhojad village of Bharatpur Municipality.
The family's business came to a halt and meeting the educational expenses of the kids became challenging. Sharada had to take care of her husband and she had no time to work outside. "We saw the worst time and it is continuing," she laments.
According to Regmi, he was targeted by the army because they thought that he was with the Maoists, the then rebels. The fact, Ragmi says, is the Maoists would come to his house at times and force the family to prepare meals for them. "Sometimes, they would even hide weapons in my house," he says.
Actually, the rebels had forced him to help them. He was tortured when he refused. The army didn't like his 'link' with the Maoists. "So, they might have attacked me."
After the peace process began, he became hopeful for justice. But when his injury was 'measured to be just 45 percent', his hopes were dashed. "If it was over 50 percent, I would get an allowance or support from the government. But I was just 45 percent injured, according to the government."
Regmi then went to other government offices. He filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission. After studying his case, the commission sent a letter to the government asking it to bear the expenses of his treatment. "However, the government did not respond."
He then went to the court. The Patan High Court decided in his favor and ordered the government to implement the decision of the commission. The court gave this verdict on 14 March this year.
Since then, he has frequented the residences of several leaders, ministers and officials with the hope of getting help for the implementation of the court verdict. Even today, he carries several copies of the verdict and meets people almost every day seeking help. "Now, I am quite tired, nobody cares," he said.
Regmi is just one of the thousands of conflict victims who are left high and dry due to the government's apathy. According to the injured victims, their plights are the most serious as their injuries have left them penniless' and often with heavy debts.
In order to address the problems of the injured conflict victims, the government has introduced the procedures to review and determine the percentage of injury of the conflict victims. "But even this has not been followed. Where should victims like us go now?" he lamented.