Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Memories of torture

Ramesh Prasad Guragain, Krishna Raj KC, Nischal Nakarmi, and I were arrested from my room in Ghattekulo Heights on the evening of 3 December 2003 by a Royal Nepal Army team led by Colonel Raju Basnet. I knew the former two as teachers but had only just met Nischal Nakarmi. At the time, I was studying at Tri-Chandra Campus and teaching at Maitidevi Higher Secondary School.

As we were being blindfolded and put into a van, Colonel Basnet threatened Nakarmi, "Capturing you is a great success for us. Whatever we do, we won't kill you." The other two teachers and I are still alive but we do not know what happened to Nakarmi. An OHCHR a report from 23 May this year listed his name among the 47 disappeared from Bhairabnath Battalion.

During the 266 days I spent in Bhairabnath I did not believe I would make it out alive. We were blindfolded and hooded all day long, our hands were tied behind our backs and we did not get two proper meals a day. We were tortured while going to the toilet, forbidden from bathing or brushing our teeth for months, made to exercise even when we had no physical strength, tortured again, beaten by drunk soldiers every night, electrocuted, beaten with thin plastic pipes, kicked with jackbooted feet, doused with ice-cold water, dunked in vats of urine, abused endlessly.

We were usually kept indoors, in the squash courts, but several times we were loaded onto a truck and taken to a bunker. From the talk of the soldiers on guard we realised that a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross had come to inspect the barracks, and were shown the empty hall.

During our last days in the squash hall, we were forced at gunpoint to write and sign a statement that read, "I am a Maoist and am in the very comfortable custody of the security forces. Since arresting me a few days ago, they have treated me humanely. I have not been tortured and have no problems here. If I am released, the Maoists will kill me and so, for reasons of my own security, I have chosen not to contact my family. I will be released in a few days." The statements were undated and those who could not write were made to put their thumbprints.

On 16 March, 2004, as the Battalion celebrated its anniversary with a big party, we were kept hungry all day. That night Major Bibek Bista led a team that beat us with their boots and pipes.

The day I was released, my prisoner number, 96, was suddenly called out. I was dragged to a nearby tent and my blindfold was taken off. Major Bista was sitting there. He didn't appear to be the devil I'd imagined him to be. He seemed understanding and asked me whether I knew him. I said I'd heard his voice. "Has anyone done anything wrong to mastersaab?" he asked. I lied that I was all right. "I told them to take special care of you," he said.

"That's what detention is like," I replied. "Mastersaab, no one has 'Maoist' written on their forehead. We have to interrogate and you were a victim. Please don't mind." I said I didn't mind, but that if I was innocent, he should release me.

"I am trying to get you released. What will you do for us if you are released? You must give us information about the Maoists." I told him I was not in a position to do that. His second proposal was: "After being freed do not meet journalists or human rights activists. If you do, you will be responsible for your own safety. If you say anything about anyone (Nischal Nakarmi), you will be brought in again and I cannot guarantee your life then. Nepal is small. We can pick you up in an hour."

I was blindfolded again. After a while another officer came in, shoved my head around, and threatened me, "Master, don't think you are free. We can bring you back in a minute. If you speak one word about the barracks outside, your life is gone." At around 2PM I was told to sign a receipt for my belongings. After a few hours of waiting around, I was blindfolded and told to lie down on the seat. I could sense that we were turning often, and finally I was dropped off at a relative's home in Baneswor. In the 266 days I was in custody, I went down from 58kg to 44kg.

After my release I had to meet army officials on specified dates. I had to go alone, but I made secret arrangements to have relatives all around so if I was taken in again, they would know. I was summoned 36 times after I was released, and each time I was warned that to speak about what happened would mean death.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)