More than a decade after the end of armed insurgency, the country is yet to come to terms with the national trauma it unleashed. Yes, the party and the leader who led the insurgency then are in the mainstream politics now and leading the government. Many of the works of peace process have been completed but the most pressing issue of resolution of cases of conflict era crimes—enforced disappearances, deaths, rapes and tortures, among others—are yet to be resolved. Victims of the conflict-era crimes are clamouring for justice but they have not been heard. The country has stuck in this process, due, mainly, to the differences between the parties—those who represented the state during the decade-long conflict and those who represented rebels—over how to take this process forward. In such situation, one would not expect the responsible leaders to say anything that generates the sense of betrayal to the victims. But, it seems, to keep such hope from ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is expecting too much.
Dahal, who led the decade-long armed insurgency, made a dangerous and a threatening confession about killings of people during the conflict era on Wednesday. He said that he would take the responsibility for the killing of 5,000 people. Perhaps he meant to say he is responsible for at least 5,000 deaths during the insurgency but not for all of 17,000 individuals said to have been killed at the hands of the Maoists and security personnel in the insurgency period. But we wonder what the chairman of the ruling party is trying to prove. Legal experts have called it an open challenge to the country’s legal system. Besides, by admitting to killing (we wonder what else this statement means other than the admission of killing), Dahal is also making mockery of the conflict victims who are waiting for justice for years through the resolution of conflict-era cases, but in which the leaders like Dahal have not shown much interest. Dahal also said something which openly reeks of total disregard for justice. He announced that the government has been working to secure the early release of some of the individuals, particularly Resham Chaudhary who is said to have masterminded the Tikapur massacre in which seven security personnel on duty including Senior Superintendent of Police Laxman Neupane and a two-year-old child were killed brutally. Kailali District Court has slapped life imprisonment on Chaudhary along with 10 others in the case and an appeal made by Chaudhary against the verdict is pending at Dipayal High Court.
Tikapur massacre was without any doubt the worst case of violence and Chaudhary is in jail as per the verdict of a court of law in connection with the same case. Legal experts have called Dahal’s defence of the convict as an open disrespect of the independence of judiciary. Our constitution has clearly mentioned that respecting court orders is the duty of every individual as well as of the government authorities. Dahal seems to be challenging the court verdict on Chaudhary’s case too. Such a callous attitude toward the case of murder and killings of people by the leader who is widely seen as the prime minister in waiting bodes ill for the country as well as for his personal political career. The violence of the decade long conflict has affected the country very badly. Dahal needs to realize such irresponsible statements on the most sensitive issues will damage his reputation, as well as that of the country.