12-18 February 2016 #795

Turning 20

Children born in 1996 remember the war
Sahina Shrestha

Ashish Mishra is 20, and was born on 11 February 1996, two days before the Maoists launched their war in Rolpa. Although he grew up in Kathmandu, Mishra (pic, above) witnessed the violence first hand during a trip to the Tarai.  

He was eight at the time and on a bus to Mahottari that came to a screeching halt on the highway. They heard a loud explosion, and the bus in front of them turned into a fireball.

“I knew the Maoists did bad things but seeing violence first hand was different,” Mishra recalls, “after that I was suspicious of everyone.”

Ten years since the end of the conflict, Mishra and his friends still talk about the war and remember it as a dark time in Nepal’s history. Mishra empathises with the need for social justice, but strongly opposes the use of violence by the rebels. 

Now that the party that championed the people’s cause has split into five factions, led by discredited former revolutionaries, Mishra asks: “All those dead and for what?” A first-year student of Media Studies at Kathmandu University, Mishra wants to become a journalist and cover foreign affairs and diplomacy.

Management student Binod Dangi (pic) was born a month after the war began in Rolpa’s Holeri. He remembers a different Libang while growing up: barbed wires, security checks and curfews at night.

His family warned him about playing with strange objects and staying out too late. “Back then, the atmosphere was different. No one came out of the house early in the morning and no one stayed out once it was dark,” recalls Dangi, who wore his student ID all the time so he wouldn’t be mistaken for a guerrilla.

Dangi’s mother had to walk all the way to Sulichaur to buy salt and rice after the Maoists blockaded Libang. His father, a teacher, was abducted by the Maoists on suspicions of being a spy, and later freed.

One day, when Dangi was in Grade 1 and walking home from school, some of his classmates came across a metal object wrapped in white cloth. Dangi suspected it might be a booby trap bomb, and pulled his friend away. It went off a minute later.

Read Also:

What the people think about the ‘People’s War’, Seulki Lee

Coils of fear, Rameshwor Bohara

Change in Rolpa, Rameshwor Bohara

Rise and fall of Maoists, Om Astha Rai