ROLPA, August 30: The family of Birkhalal Kunwar, who went missing on February 21, 2001, has received a judicial verdict of his death after 21 years. Birkhalal, a resident of Rolpa Municipality-1, was reported missing after then Maoist rebels kidnapped him. He was then 43 years old.
Birma (Birkhalal’s wife) struggled to raise five young children. After the disappearance of Birkhalal, local authorities concerned did not even investigate the case to alleviate the suffering of the family, let alone helping them. The mental anguish of being directly affected by the conflict was even greater for the family. Additionally, victims are always forced to live in pain as mental suffering is not considered a problem.
Meghmali Budha, 63, of Kotgaon in Rolpa Municipality-6 is also a victim of the decade-long Maoist conflict. Her husband was taken away by the Maoists on March 28, 2001. It was later revealed that he was shot dead in the nearby village.
Similarly, Hira Bahadur Budha-- the eldest son of Meghmali--, who came to meet his brother, who was studying in Dang in 2001 A.D, was abducted by the then Royal Nepal Army. He has been missing since then. Following the government's decision to provide relief only to the family of the deceased, she immediately registered the death of her missing son.
“My husband was shot dead and my son has been missing. I had a hope that he would return. But now I believe that he is dead,” Meghmali said. “My husband was a shepherd. But the Maoist killed him saying that he was a government spy belonging to the Nepali Congress party. How can an innocent man be a spy?” Meghmali knows who the perpetrators are. But she is forced to forget the past for the sake of the younger generation. “I can’t do what they did to my family,” she said.
Pratima Thapa of Rolpa Municipality-1 Harigatina was pregnant when her husband went missing. Her son, who is a young man now, did not even get to see his father. Thapa still has a hope that her husband will return home.
Her husband went missing when he left for India to seek job opportunities some 22 years ago. “I was not able to marry again due to my son and mother-in-law. I stayed and hoped for the best, taking care of my family,” she said. Although her husband's body has not been found, she has registered his death.
Dil Kumari Gurung of Korchawang went to Kathmandu in 2004 A.D for medical treatment after her husband was taken ill. Her husband, who was suffering from pain in his arms and legs, was taken away from the hospital bed by the army. “The army used to be very suspicious towards the people hailing from Rolpa district. I heard they took my husband to the barracks and thus went to the barracks many times. I was never allowed to meet him,” she said.
After losing her husband Dal Bahadur Gurung, she is now raising two daughters on her own. “We do not even have enough food to eat. I can’t explain how I am living my life. The small plot of land we have is ploughed by my brothers and neighbors. I can’t even show the pictures of their father to my young daughters as they can’t control their tears,” she lamented.
The families of most of the disappeared persons in Rolpa have registered death of the missing persons even though their bodies are not found yet. They registered the death after the government decided to provide relief only to the family of the deceased persons at the beginning of the peace process.
The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons has received complaints of 98 missing persons in the district, but only 33 of them are listed in the official statistics. The family of the deceased are waiting for the government to introduce relief programs that support their livelihood.