MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
These past two years, we underestimated the legacy of violence that the war left behind. The ascendance of the Maoists to government gave everyone with a grievance an excuse to set injustices right with the force of arms. It proved that if you killed enough people you could get what you wanted.
At a more mundane level, it demonstrated that blocking a highway, burning tyres, or closing down the country with a forced shutdown was the only way to get people in power to listen to you and redress grievances.
The 10 years of murders, mayhem and destruction also left a more corrosive residue of increased domestic violence, frayed nerves and a citizenry quick to resort to the fist. The elections showed that muscle-power can win votes, so all the political parties now have clones of the YCL. The Maoists have taught us well.
And there is the background presence of structural violence that has never really gone away. The heavy-handed behaviour of police at checkpoints, the aggression and rudeness of those who are supposed to be the guardians of law and order. The war was partly a response to state-sponsored brutality which is still prevalent.
There may be a ceasefire, therefore, but the aggression and cruelty that the war left us with will be around for decades to come. The peace process may be on track, but there are serious challenges ahead, most urgently the assimilation of the Maoists into the national army.
We will never be able to say that we are at peace until there is a new culture of non-violence. Peace is a dynamic process. It is not enough to simply wish it or pray for it. Peace must be actively pursued with education and advocacy. You can't talk about peace without reconciliation, truth and justice for those directly affected by the war.
War is just the fiercest form of violence. At a wider level, violence in society is also manifested in child malnutrition or environmental destruction. Ethnic and gender discrimination and human rights violations are all forms of violence. During the war, far more malnourished children died of preventable infections rather than in actual fighting. And they will continue to die.
Peace won't come to us just with the peace process. There will be no peace until we allow all Nepalis to make full use of their capabilities.
The new constitution is important because it will remove the structural reasons for conflict once and for all. So let's get on with it.