Three years ago, when the country was being torn apart by conflict Amrit Gurung and his band Nepathya were on a nationwide peace concert tour.
While passing through Motipur in the far-western district of Kailali he and journalist Rajesh KC visited a police post that had just been attacked and destroyed. Six policemen were killed.
Children from a nearby school believed the police station was haunted, but curiosity got the better of them and they followed the photographers into the station. An exploding mortar shell had made a large hole in one of the walls and the children were peering out of it. Both Amrit and Rajesh started taking pictures from the same angle, and both submitted them for a pictorial book that publishers nepa-laya were bringing out. Amrit's picture had two children and Rajesh's had five peering out of the same spot. An international selection panel chose Amrit's for the cover of the book, A People War, which was launched in December and has become a collector's item for book lovers in Nepal and abroad.
Amrit returned to the remote police post at Motipur three years later during his recently-concluded concert tour. He learnt that one of the boys, Aman, was taken to India by his father when his mother died. But Hemanta was still there, wearing a Britney Spears T-shirt.
Hemanta posed once more for a picture, this time holding the book that has him on the cover. Times have changed, the situation is different, but the police station is the same. "This wall has now become a symbol of Nepal's war," says Amrit, "lots of people ask me where the cover picture was taken, it may be a good idea to build the police station somewhere else and leave this one as a war memorial." Amrit is a professional singer and his hobby is photography.
|A People War: Images of the Nepal Conflict 1996-2006, Nepalaya Pvt Ltd, 2006 pp 215, Rs 2,500.|
"To extend the reach of the book, we are working on a travelling exhibition in Aprilof selected images from the book," says Kiran Krishna Shrestha, team leader of the publishing house nepa~laya.
"Every war has its iconic picture. Somewhere in this book is the photograph that will symbolise conflict," says Kunda Dixit, "and that image could very well be the cover picture of that bombed out wall."
While in Motipur, Amrit Gurung handed over a copy of the book to the library of the Rastriya Higher Secondary School where Hemanta studies. Says Amrit: "I wish we could present this book to every school in the country, it is a pictorial documentation of a conflict we all lived through, the horrors of which we should never forget."
Read more at www.apeoplewar.com