Bhim Chapagain/Republica Family members of conflict victims participate in a discussion program held recently in Ilam.
ILAM, April 13: Anil Ektan was just eight-years-old when he lost his father to the insurgency 11 years ago. He was found hanging from a tree and it was claimed that he was killed by the rebel forces. However the family has not received compensation from the state so far despite their repeated claims.
Anil was shocked to realize that his fathers name was not included in the list of people who were killed during the conflict. Instead his mother, who is still alive, was on the list.
“My mother is alive. My father was the one who was killed during the conflict, but my mother’s name is on the list of the dead,” said Anil, a local of Danabari village of Mai Municipality. “This made me realize the extent of error government officials have made in documenting the conflict victims,” Anil added.
His father Gambhir Bahadur Ektan was found hanging from a tree on September 10, 2005. Ektan family and relatives accused the Maoists rebel for this. The rebels had denied involvement in it and termed it a case of suicide. However, Ektan family’s neighbors state that the rebels had tortured Gambhir him so much that he took the brutal step.
“How can they call it a suicide? They had tortured him so much that he could not bear and took his life. This cannot be suicide,” said a neighbor. Anil claims that Maoists had confessed of torturing Gambhir to some people, and that he came to know about it only in the later years. “Though they did not take the responsibility at the time, they later admitted it. They confessed it to some people here,” Anil said.
Dhiren Sharma, in-charge of CPN (Maoists- United) does not deny Anil’s findings. He said the deceased was indeed tortured by the Maoists rebels. “I learnt later that he was tortured very much and as he could not take it anymore he killed himself. This is indeed a conflict era case and should be treated accordingly by the state,” Sharma said. “The family should be identified as conflict victim and compensated accordingly for their loss,” he added.
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission had called for registration of conflict victims’ name, the Ektan family was not informed and missed it. The family lives in a remote village and they were unaware of it. By the time the news reached to them, the deadline had passed.
“When the news reached us, we approached the concerned authorities but they denied registering my father’s name in the victim’s list. My father lost his life, my mother lost her husband and we lost our father but all the officials were concerned about was deadline,” Anil said adding that despite several attempts the officials denied responding to their requests.
“We are doubly victimized. First we lost our family member because of the rebels and secondly we are deprived of the compensation by the state,” he said.
“When my father died, I did not know who killed him, how he was killed, or why he was killed. Now, I am more troubled as I see my mother’s name in the list instead of my father’s. The state did not even acknowledge his death,” he added.
He shared it was disheartening to realize how government official’s have been neglecting crucial issues and concerns of the citizens. “Now I have come to know how state officials look upon citizens like us. They don’t even ask or take time to hear and record our names properly. If that isn’t the case, how come my mother’s name is there?” he said expressing disgust.
His father’s death destroyed his childhood and his life. He was forced to drop out from sixth grade to earn for the family which includes a physically disabled sister. “One of my sisters is physically challenged. We do not have any regular source of income. Life became pathetic for us since our father’s death,” he said.
Had the government officials responded to the family’s requests and provided the compensation they were entitled to, the family could have a different life.
But even now there is no way for the family to claim the compensation as the death is not registered in the conflict victims’ name list. According to Tejmaya Gurung, also a conflict victim, Anil’s is a representative case. Such mistakes in government documentation have deprived many conflict victims of the compensation.
Human right activist Bimal Kumar Dahal stated that the victims should not be forced to pay for the errors and shortcomings of the government and its officials. Damodar Chapagain, president of ‘Dwanda Pidit Sajha Chautari’ stressed that long term facilities and services should be provided to needy conflict victims. “In case of many conflict victims, they have been severely affected by the death of their bread winner. Their children’s lives have been affected terribly. The state must be serious towards addressing their concerns,” Chapagain said.