ILAM, June 14: Families of those who were disappeared during the decade-long armed conflict in Ilam are still waiting in the hope that their missing kin would return home some day.
Recently, however, the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) has uncovered a disturbing truth. According to the ongoing investigations of the commission, security personnel had buried those disappeared in mass graves and later exhumed the bodies and cremated them secretly.
Sources at the CIEDP informed that the bodies of those disappeared by the state were buried in mass in the jungle, near villages, and also on the premises of the offices of the security agencies. The bodies buried on the premises of the offices of the security agencies were later exhumed and cremated to destroy the evidence, according to a reliable source.
“But some of the bodies buried by the security personnel near human settlements have not been excavated for fear of being caught in the act. Our investigations show that many of those disappeared were buried in mass graves,” the source said.
Likewise, the CIEDP investigation has found that the Maoist rebels also buried many of those they disappeared in mass graves in the forests and the bodies have not been cremated.
The commission found this after its investigation into the complaints on disappearances received from across the country. The commission has received a total of 3,183 complaints of disappearances and is currently investigating into 2,473 cases. However, the commission has yet to make public the findings of the investigations.
The commission's member-secretary Dr Bishnu Pathak informed that based on the complaints of the victim families the commission needs to exhume a total of 500 bodies in 35 various districts.
“It is true that we have received information about the existence of mass graves,” he said. “However, we cannot say anything without digging the graves,” he added.Pathak, however, did not reveal the number of mass graves identified by the commission.The commission has formed a coordination committee under the leadership of Pathak to facilitate recovery of buried bodies. Members of the committee include Dr Promod Shrestha; Dr Harihar Wasti; Dr Rijen Shrestha, Nepal Police DNA unit chief; and Ram Bhandari, chairman of National Network of Families of Disappeared and Missing Nepal (NEFAD) representing the victims, among others.The International Committee of the Red Cross would provide technical help to the committee.