A small thatched hut, walls covered with posters and slogans of the All Nepal National Free Students' Union (Revolutionary) [affiliated to the CPN-Maoist]. In the small clearing in front is a woman of around 20 years of age dressed in the white of a widow, sobbing continuously. Nearby sleeps a two-month-old baby. Everyone gathered has tears in their eyes.
This is the scene from Tarigaun village in Dang district and the house belongs to Num Bahadur KC, the policeman killed at the Kotwadi police station by the Maoists in their fight for the "common hardworking class".
"He had called about 10 to 12 days back asking how his two-month-old son was and said that he would come and see son's face when he comes home in February. But it was his dead body that arrived yesterday." Num Bahadur's wife, Maya, can hardly speak the words. Maya, who is an SLC graduate, and Num Bahadur were married four years ago. They have a daughter who is 18 months old and it's only two months since the son was born.
Num Bahadur's father, Ghanshyam KC, 68, is presiding over his sons final rites. Num Bahadur was the second of Ghanshyam's three sons. "When he left home last summer we told him to quit his job, but he didn't agree. 'My elder brother is in the force. My younger brother is in Malaysia. How can I feed my family?' he had asked. 'On top of everything all our land is being withheld by the court. We don't know what will happen, so I will go no matter what happens.' He had argued and gone off, but now he's gone forever. Everyone, his mother, father and mother-in-law, everybody were pressuring him to resign but he didn't agree.," says the grieving father.
Ghanshyam KC has only a small plot of land to his name that he had bought for Rs 1,400 from Iswari Prasad Lamichhane, a local, when he had moved to Dang from Pyuthan in 1965. But Ghanshyam is yet to receive the land even though he has already paid up the full amount. The case is being fought in the Supreme Court. "Last year a local leader of the Nepali Congress and the Dang chief of the commission to settle the landless, Mahesh Acharya, and a justice from Rukum, Narayan Dhital, claimed they had bought the land from Iswari Prasad and tried to drive us out even though they knew that the question of the ownership of the land was currently being looked at by the court," says Ghanshyam, wiping the tears in his eyes. "If they hadn't tried to take the land from us my son would have left the police force. But fearing we would become landless if we lost the case, he didn't."
The mother of the dead policeman, Pima Devi, spoke in a voice breaking with grief: "We have been cursed last year and this year. Last year our son-in-law died in a car crash when my daughter was two months' pregnant. She gave birth to a granddaughter. I am raising my granddaughter here. This year my daughter-in-law had a son two months ago. How am I going to feed my grandchildren?"
Num Bahadur has four sisters. A younger sister says, "Last Tihar we called him for Tika but he couldn't get leave and we called our elder brother, but as he too is in the police force he couldn't come either. Our youngest brother is in Malaysia, so there was no question of him coming. Our foreheads remained empty."
The tragedy-stricken family has only one question in mind, "What had he done that he had to be killed?"
When asked whether the government had provided any help, Ghanshyam answers, "Yesterday (Friday) the SP and came gave us Rs 25,000 for the cremation. Our son's death will forever hurt us but after the SP and others from the police came and consoled us we are feeling better."
Ghanshyam adds, "The land we bought in 1965 has not come in our possession. The local Congress leader Mahesh Acharya tried to throw me out saying he had bought land from Iswari Prasad even he knew that I bought the land. I was taken to the police and district officials. The land dispute is being heard at the Supreme Court. If we lose the case we will be landless. What will my grandchildren do? My son died serving the government. The government must take note of the injustice being done to us. Please don't forget to write about the land in the papers."