Nepali Times
Still yearning for justice


REEL DEBI: Maina's parents Debi and Purna Sunar (played by Radha Shrestha and Govinda Prabhat) in the film, Maina.
One day in February 2003 I left my daughter Maina at home to visit my mother. My sister Rina Rasaili had earlier been abducted by soldiers, raped and killed.

I could never imagine that a similar fate awaited my daughter. I didn't see her being handcuffed and dragged out of the house. My husband and sister don't want to talk about it because they say their hearts still tremble when they remember the horror.

Director K P Pathak has made a feature film about my daughter's murder, called Maina, which premiered on 10 November. During the scenes when Maina's character is tortured by electrocution and her head pushed under a water drum, I covered my head and wept.

The tears I shed were also tears of happiness. That a movie about Maina was finally made represented a result of my long struggle. If I had just grieved no one would have known me, nor Maina. It was because of my struggle that the army which was saying "We didn't do it" was finally forced to say "Yes, we did it." Human rights activists and journalists played an important part in this struggle. However, the journey hasn't ended yet, it won't end until the murderers are punished.

In 2003 I attended a reception by the OHCHR's Louise Arbour at the Himalaya Hotel. She had arranged for me to meet the army chief, Pyarjung Thapa. Someone pointed him out to me, and I walked to his side : "Namaste, sir. I am lucky to be able to meet someone like you," I said." Why?" he asked.

"It's rare for a victim of violence like me to have the opportunity to meet someone like you."

"Victimised by whom?" he asked.

I replied: "I am Maina Sunar's mother. My daughter has disappeared since Februrary 2003. I want to know where my daughter is, if she was detained. If so, why."

He thought for a while, then said: "I will contact you in a week." I didn't have a phone so human rights activist Mandira Sharma gave him her number.

It was after this that the army admitted through the media that Maina was killed in the barracks. It named Capt Babi Khatri, Lt Capt Amit Pun and Sunil Adhkari and Capt Niranjan as having taken part in Maina's torture and murder. The army said it had frozen their promotion and detained them for a few months.

The army also promised compensation, but I didn't go to the Kabhre district office because my struggle was not for money. I wanted to take the guilty to court to have them tried and then awarded damages.

I had thought that I would get justice when the Maoists came to power. But now I see that they are too busy with their own vested interests. No Maoist leader or cadre has ever spoken to me after they got into government. I don't understand how they could just forget about the victims of the conflict so soon.

Not just the Maoists, many human rights activists and journalists have also taken advantage of my tragedy. They take hours and hours of footage of me and then they sell my suffering. I hear the Maoists are even planning to release an album named after Maina. K P Pathak's film exposes these things.

I am poor, but I want to immortalise Maina by setting up the Maina Child Development Committee and an orphanage in my daughter's name. And I am glad to note that K P Pathak has pledged a part of the earnings from charity shows of his film in Kabhre to Maina's cause.

Maina's story - FROM ISSUE #426 (21 NOV 2008 - 27 NOV 2008)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)