NEPALGANJ: Muna was seven months pregnant when her husband, Madan, was killed. They had fallen in love when Madan was posted in Dang, and last year they got married in Madan's home village in Bardiya. Soon, Madan was transferred to Jumla, and that is where he was killed during the Maoist attack last month.
He had written only twice since being posted to Jumla, saying he was all right. He promised to come and visit her as soon as he got leave. When he finally came home, it was his dead body brought in a police jeep the day after the Jumla attack. Muna fainted when she saw the jeep.
When she regained consciousness, her tears and cries of grief made the whole village of Sitapur weep with her. Even villagers hardened by their own struggle for survival wept, and there was not a dry eye in the village.
Today, Muna is taking care of herself and her baby-the only thing that Madan left her. Madan's family has told her: "You are our daughter we will take care of you."
Also killed in Jumla was another Bardiya native, Bhawani Khatri. He left behind a 19-year-old widow, Jayarupa, and two small boys. Bhawani and Jayarupa fell in love when Bhawani was posted in Dadeldhura four years ago. When her husband's body arrived in the village, Jayarupa fainted with grief and shock. Bhawani was the sole breadwinner of the family, and Jayarupa has no one else to turn to.
The seven-year "peoples war" has already left at least 1,300 widows like Muna and Jayarupa all over Nepal. Of these it is estimated that 160 are widows of soldiers, more than 700 are widows of civilian police, 90 of armed police and more than 400 are widows of Maoists killed in action.
The government has promised that it will give a compensation of Rs 700,000 to the family of every police and army personnel killed in action. But most of the widows and families have never received that money. Even the widows who have gone to the police or army to ask for the compensation have been so mired in red tape that they have given up.
Jayarupa says she hasn't got a paisa from the government, even though she has gone to the local administration and police several times. "There are thousands of widows like me, and we have to really struggle even to stay alive. Our husbands gave their lives for the government, but the government doesn't even take care of us," she says, appealing to charity organisations and the government to give them some hope and relief.