Dhadhabar - It has been five years since Sagunlal Chaudhary of Bardiya was captured by the army and went missing. The family had almost lost hope when Louise Arbour, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights made a trip to this small village 50km from Nepalganj, met with them, and promised to talk to the government about Sagunlal's status.
This was in mid-January. It's been two months since Arbour's visit and the Chaudharys have still not heard from the government. "We are confident the government will listen to the voice of such a high-ranking officer," says Sagunlal's son Krishna.
Sagunlal used to be the principal of a local school when he was captured in front of witnesses by the army on 27 December 2001. A year later the family heard that he was being detained in the Chisapani barracks, but they have heard nothing about him since. The army denies any involvement in Sagunlal's disappearance.
Most reports of disappearances in Nepal during the conflict come from Bardiya. Of the 204 people who have gone missing from here, 181 were disappeared by the state and the rest by the Maoists. Louise Arbour has said the government needs to make sure there is no impunity for those involved.
But the relatives of many who have disappeared haven't even filed cases. Because the government rejects complaints that are not backed by evidence, families are waiting to file their cases after the government makes the status of the disappeared people public.
Arbour said that Bardiya was top on her list of priorities. After Arbour's visit the government has not set up a commission to investigate disappearances, and nor has it said it will take action against the military personnel involved in the Bardiya disappearances. The families are forming a committee to pressure the government. "A government that does not listen to the United Nations is sure to commit more crimes," says committee chairman Krishna Chaudhary.