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What became of 1,400 people who disappeared in Nepal?

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Lautan Chaudhary from Bardiya district says her husband was disappeared by the army in 2002. She ran from pillar to post to get information on her husband but to no avail. “Where is my husband? He is live or died? The reality should be public. If he’s alive they should bring him here. If he’s dead, they should show me where he is buried. They should show us his bones.”

 

Kathmandu, April 27, 2017: More than 10 years after Nepal’s bloody civil war ended, the country has finally started a process of transitional justice.

Some 16,000 people were killed in a decade of Maoist rebellion and at least 1,400 people went missing, most at the hands of security forces.

The families of those who disappeared during the 1996-2006 conflict have finally started to register their complaints, but the response has so far been lukewarm.

The Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) were formed last year after many delays. They will handle cases such as rape, abduction, murder, displacement, mutilation, and torture.

Ram Kumar Bhandari, who has been campaigning for the families of the disappeared, said the commissions were not well-prepared and that many people in the rural areas were not even aware of the process.

Bhandari, whose father was disappeared by the army, says that Local Peace Committees tasked with registering the complaints are filled with political-appointees linked to alleged perpetrators.

He said that the “protection and confidentiality of the families” should be prioritised as many of them have received threats from the police and the army – which stand accused in most of the cases.

A Nepal army spokesman said that “the army has provided all material it has concerning disappearances to TRC through the defence ministry”.

“The army has helped fully to support TRC and the investigation of the disappeared from its side and will continue to do so,” Tara Bahadur Karki told Al Jazeera.

Jhumli Chaudhary says his son was picked up by people in army and police uniforms from Khari Chandanpur-2 in 2002. His son was 14-years-old when he disappeared. His other son believes his brother won’t come back. Jhumli and with his wife Polha went to all the barracks but got no answer from anyone.
Jhumli Chaudhary says his son was picked up by people in army and police uniforms from Khari Chandanpur-2 in 2002. His son was 14-years-old when he disappeared. His other son believes his brother won’t come back. Jhumli and with his wife Polha went to all the barracks but got no answer from anyone.

 

Bhagiram Chaudhary's brother and sister-in-law were taken by the army never to return. Chaudhary has been fighting the cases of the disappeared in Bardiya district. He says that police have refused to register cases. "The Maoists raised issues that resonated with the social and economic situation of the Tharus, who were long humiliated and oppressed. As they became more successful, the state started to see all Tharus as Maoists," he said.
Bhagiram Chaudhary’s brother and sister-in-law were taken by the army never to return. Chaudhary has been fighting the cases of the disappeared in Bardiya district. He says that police have refused to register cases. “The Maoists raised issues that resonated with the social and economic situation of the Tharus, who were long humiliated and oppressed. As they became more successful, the state started to see all Tharus as Maoists,” he said.

 

Women from the Tharu community fishing in a small pool by the side of the road in Rajapur area of Bardiya district. Nearly 200 people from Tharu community disappeared in Bardiya district alone.
Women from the Tharu community fishing in a small pool by the side of the road in Rajapur area of Bardiya district. Nearly 200 people from Tharu community disappeared in Bardiya district alone.

 

Gayaram Prasad Chaudhary was picked up by the army from his home in Rajapur area of Bardiya district 13 years ago. He says he was tortured after being accused of being a Maoist. The torture has left him scarred and he has developed neurological problems that cause continuous pain.
Gayaram Prasad Chaudhary was picked up by the army from his home in Rajapur area of Bardiya district 13 years ago. He says he was tortured after being accused of being a Maoist. The torture has left him scarred and he has developed neurological problems that cause continuous pain.

 

Ram Kumar Bhandari, 38, has almost single-handedly kept the issue of the disappeared in the public eye during the 10 years of democratic transition. He has brought families of victims from across the country together on one platform. "Families still wait for answers, they want closure in the case."
Ram Kumar Bhandari, 38, has almost single-handedly kept the issue of the disappeared in the public eye during the 10 years of democratic transition. He has brought families of victims from across the country together on one platform. “Families still wait for answers, they want closure in the case.”
Libang, the district headquarters of Rolpa, was on lockdown as the Maoists controlled the rural areas of the district. Out of the 33 who disappeared from the district, at least 27 were taken by the security forces.
Libang, the district headquarters of Rolpa, was on lockdown as the Maoists controlled the rural areas of the district. Out of the 33 who disappeared from the district, at least 27 were taken by the security forces.
Indra Kumar Acharya, a former teacher from Libang, was arrested by the army and tortured during the war. "It was as if I was mauled by tigers," Acharya, 59, said. His fault was that his son Phabindra Acharya "Kshitiz" was a PLA fighter. On the effects of the war he said: "Those who benefited, benefited. Others got nothing. The wounds are raw. It hurts."
Indra Kumar Acharya, a former teacher from Libang, was arrested by the army and tortured during the war. “It was as if I was mauled by tigers,” Acharya, 59, said. His fault was that his son Phabindra Acharya “Kshitiz” was a PLA fighter. On the effects of the war he said: “Those who benefited, benefited. Others got nothing. The wounds are raw. It hurts.”

 

The heavily-forested hills of Rolpa district became the heartland of a Maoist rebellion that continued for ten years. A lack of basic infrastructure and difficult terrain made it an ideal place for guerrilla warfare.
The heavily-forested hills of Rolpa district became the heartland of a Maoist rebellion that continued for ten years. A lack of basic infrastructure and difficult terrain made it an ideal place for guerrilla warfare.

 

Lal Bahadur Gharti Magar was picked up by the police on February 13, 1996 – the day Maoists attacked a police post in Holeri launching the People’s War. He was accused of involvement in the Holeri attack. He accuses the police of torturing him inside the jail for two months. After serving 10 years in jail he runs a hotel in his village Madichaur on the outskirts of Libang.
Lal Bahadur Gharti Magar was picked up by the police on February 13, 1996 – the day Maoists attacked a police post in Holeri launching the People’s War. He was accused of involvement in the Holeri attack. He accuses the police of torturing him inside the jail for two months. After serving 10 years in jail he runs a hotel in his village Madichaur on the outskirts of Libang.