Nepali Times



If Pushpa were alive, he would have celebrated his twenty-second birthday on 6 December. Dhirendra would be celebrating his twenty-sixth birthday on 31 January. But there has been no trace of them for the last seven years. Mention of the brothers brings their mother, Chandra Kumari Basnet, close to an emotional breakdown. She caresses the photographs of her sons and says, "Where have you gone, pieces of my heart?"

The Basnets are from Damak. Both Pushpa and Dhirendra passed the SLC exams with distinction from Himalaya Secondary School. Pushpa graduated with a Bachelor's degree from behind bars in 2003, and Dhirendra had also passed his ISc when he was jailed. That was the first time they
were jailed.

But it wouldn't be the last. A contingent from the Bhairabnath Battalion led by Raju Basnet arrested them on charges of alleged involvement in Maoist activities. Pushpa was arrested from Kalimati on 5 November 2003 and Dhirendra was arrested later on 14 November. That's all Chandra Kumari heard from eyewitnesses. Birendra, her fourth child, was also detained in Bhairabnath Battalion and caught a glimpse of his two brothers. "After that the government neither released them nor gave me the dead bodies of my children," laments Chandra Kumari.

Two of Chandra Kumari's five sons have disappeared, both in government detention. She breaks down when she is asked how many children she has and what they are doing. "If it was leaders' sons that disappeared they would be concerned, but who will help find my sons?" she says, carefully holding their photographs.

She has appealed to a whole roster of former prime ministers: Lokendra Bahadur Chand, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Surya Bahadur Thapa, Girija Prasad Koirala and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and met the home and defence ministers who served under them. She has asked them all where her sons are, but has gotten the same reply: "Have patience, we will find them for you." She sighs.

Sita Devi Dhakal (right) of Damak-13 has a similar story. Her husband, Punya Prasad Dhakal, was known in the village as Junge Hawaldar ('constable moustache'). The couple had just fixed the date of their eldest daughter Muna's marriage and were making arrangements. But three days before the ceremony, Punya left for Chandragadi early in the morning and never returned. Sita Devi could never figure out who took him and where.

A resilient Sita Devi didn't put the wedding off and Muna was duly married on 7 June, 2005. When she bid goodbye to her beloved child, the pent-up grief came bursting out. "The wounds get deeper as they get older," she says.

Punya was a pensioner and an ex-police constable, but his family hasn't received a penny since his disappearance. They were told by the Jhapa District Police that the pensions of the disappeared are not transferable. She flashes his pension card and says, "No one helped me transfer his pension."

These stories have recurred countless times across the country. In the beginning, human rights organisations went from door to door and listened to stories, prepared reports, organised workshops, and printed their photographs in newspapers. But the victims neither got any help nor patronage.

"One has to live no matter what you have to face," says Sita Devi, as she works on an old sewing machine at home.

Missing justice - FROM ISSUE #484 (08 JAN 2010 - 14 JAN 2010)

1. Sumitra
The piece by Gadtaula is great. I thank the author first for making such pitiful story live. Yes, the government should be held accountable for issues related to disappearance. These are real victims in Nepal. Government is always involved in giving false promises to victims. This trend should no longer continue in Nepal if really we want to tell the world that Nepal has republican system in the country. Sumitra

2. May
Fine piece of balanced journalism by Gopal Gartoula, showing that the civilian victims of the war (killed and disappeared by both sides) continue to suffer and grieve. Neither the Maoists nor the Army want to address this problem because it will expose their war crimes. When will Chandra Kumari Basnet and Sita Devi Dhakal ever have closure? At this rate, never.

3. Patriot
My heart bleeds for these bereaved mothers/wives. unfortunately its almost futile to expect any justice in Nepal. may they find some light in the numbing darkness that surround their lives.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)