23-29 May 2014 #708

Forced to disappear

The district with the most forced disappearances during the conflict is still in mourning
Tufan Neupane in BARDIA

TUFAN NEUPANE
Bardia tops the list of districts in Nepal with the highest number of forced disappearances by the security forces during the conflict. Especially notorious was the Bhim Kali Company of the Royal Nepal Army stationed at Chisapani Base which alone was responsible for most of the atrocities.

Most of the victims were from the Tharu community, and there are hundreds of families in Bardia which have lost husbands, brothers and uncles.  Of the 2,000 cases of disappearances registered with the National Human Rights commission, about 200 are from Bardia.

One of them was Rampyari Tharu’s husband, Kaliram who was a rickshaw driver in the town of Motipur. Rampyari (pic, right, with her husband’s photo) was just 19 when soldiers from the Chisapani Base barged into their house just before midnight on 2 October 2002, blindfolded Kaliram and drove him away. But before they shot dead Kaliram’s brother Tagga, the soldiers tied his body to the bed he was sleeping on and took him away as well.

Kaliram and Tagga’s mother, Parbatni who is now 77, was so psychologically traumatised by the loss of her sons that she hasn’t spoken since and stares vacantly into space. Rampyari’s son was two then, and has no memory of his father.

Rampyari says neither her husband nor his elder brother was political. She went to the Chisapani base many times to find out about her husband and to get back the body of her brother-in-law. But the soldiers at the gate would rudely tell her to go away, and kept denying he was detained inside.

Tagga’s son, Lohari was seven then and had seen his father being shot in front of his eyes. Today, aged 19, he is still waiting for the killers to be be punished. “My mind will only find peace when the soldiers who shot my father face justice,” he says.

The same night that Kaliram was taken away, in the nearby village of Madaha some soldiers had beaten up Baburam Chaudhary, Darbari Tharu, Tulsiram Tharu and Laxmiram Tharu and taken them away. None of them was seen again.

Baburam’s father Babu Prasad died of worry two years later. His mother Ratni, 60, lives with her daughter-in-law and says she has only one wish before she dies: to see the perpetrators punished.

Baburam’s sister Gangarani joined the Maoists to avenge the disappearance and death of her brother. But she herself was captured in Padanaha in Bardia, taken into the jungle and killed. She was 20.

Although Ratni says her daughter’s body was never found, the Maoists declared her a ‘martyr’ and sent her a photograph. She says: “No one in our village was really a Maoist, we were all share croppers. And because we were demanding our share of the harvest from the landlord, they labeled us Maoists.”

Between December 2001 and September 2002, the Royal Nepal Army dissappeared the husband, son, daughter-in-law and daughter of Dujani Tharu of Magargadi in Bardia. Dujani is now 75 and lives with her 14-year-old grandson, who takes care of her. She wants to see the soldiers who did this to her family punished.

None of the soldiers from the Chinsapani Base who carried out extra-judicial killings, forced disappearances, rapes or torture was ever caught.

The commander of Chisapani Base at the time, Major Ajit Thapa, along with Capt Ramesh Swar were named in 2006 by eight political parties of Banke district as being responsible for atrocities in Bardia. But not only did the two never face trial, Thapa was even promoted to Lt Colonel.

Read also:

“I need to know why”, Gopal Gartaula

Just want justice, Bhrikuti Rai

The tale of two Commissions, Binita Dahal

"Forgive and move on", Anurag Acharya

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