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Dekendra's grave



We crossed the muddy unpaved road and finally reached the Dailekh capital at 4.30 PM to exhume the body of murdered journalist, Dekendra Raj Thapa. At the request of FNJ, the district administration of Dwari VDC had deployed police to investigate the area where Thapa may have been buried four years ago.

The Maoists, who were responsible for Thapa's torture and death, were infuriated by the investigation. They put pressure on CDO Krishna Shyam Budathoki, badgering him with questions like: "On whose authority did you send the police to that area?", "How can you be sure that the body is located there?"

Eyewitnesses had provided information that Thapa was buried 150m from Dwari Secondary School in a nearby jungle between two rocky outcrops. Journalists themselves had guarded the suspected burial site until the police arrived.

In June 2004, the Maoists had obstructed the water supply to Dailekh's capital. Hoping to mediate, Dekendra Thapa and other journalists arrived at Toli VDC on 23 June. But Thapa was lured away and kidnapped by the Maoists and taken from village to village. During this time, the extent to which he was tortured is still unknown.

However after one month when he was finally taken to Dwari eyewitnesses say he was hung upside down with his feet tied up and tortured till he died on 10 August. The Maoist involved, Bam Bahadur Khadka of Katti, is now a PLA commander in Nepalganj.

Despite repeated requests from the Thapa family and FNJ the Maoists never released the body. However when information was received on the possible location of the body, it was decided that it should be exhumed. Forensic specialists Dr Wasti, police officers and other journalists started digging and in one hour, they found a piece of shirt and then a skull and femur. There was a pair of shorts and a shirt on the body. The left leg and right elbow were broken.

The bones were packed in a plastic bag and taken for DNA examination. Before heading back to Kathmandu, I had to pay one last visit to Dekendra's mother, Gangadevi. She burst into tears on seeing us. "Until the body was found, I still had hope," she told us, "I had never given up hope."



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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