Nepali Times
Same road


UNITED BY LOSS: The husbands of Laxmi Devi Khadka and Devisara Wali were disappeared by opposing sides during the war, but they now work together in Bardiya to help the families of other people who are still missing.

Their husbands were taken from them by opposing sides during the conflict, but they journey in pain together Laxmi Devi Khadka's husband, Dil Bahadur, was disappeared by the Maoists in 2003. Devisara Wali's husband, Suresh, was last seen in the district police office in Bardiya eight years ago.

Under normal circumstances, Laxmi and Devisara would hardly be able to get along. But the two are not just friends, they work together as activists campaigning on behalf of the families of the disappeareds.

"We may have been victimised by different groups but the pain is still the same," Devisara says, recalling how her husband and father-in-law were both detained by the police. Her father-in-law was released four days later, but Suresh was never heard from again.

Laxmi recalls her own ordeal in a monotone drained of all emotion. "It was dark when the Maoists came and took my husband away," she says. "They said they would send him back in 15 minutes, but we never saw him again."
Of all the districts in Nepal, Bardiya recorded the largest number of disappeareds during the war. Nearly five years after the end of the conflict, Dil Bahadur Khadka and Suresh Wali are among the 172 people still listed as missing from Bardiya.

Over the years, the search for their husbands has brought Laxmi and Devisara close together, and the two now work as a team to help other families of the disappeared. Along with 200 other men and women, they have been advocating for the rights of war victims and families of the disappeared under the Committee for Conflict Affected People in Bardiya.

Laxmi has gone to every Maoist leader, political party, and human rights group in her district. Padam Rijal 'Navin', the known Maoist kidnapper of Laxmi's husband, threatened to bomb her house and take away her son too, if she continued the search.

Laxmi says she never had big dreams, all she ever wanted was to live in peace. "I can't believe he is dead until I see his body," she says. "I keep searching for his face in the crowd. At night when the dogs bark, I still get up to see if it's him."

Devisara still keeps all her husband's clothes and belongings in the hope that he will return one day. "Every time I see a new number calling my mobile, I think it might be him," she says.

Both their families are entitled to compensation, but it has taken years for them to get Rs 100,000 from the government. Raising children has been difficult for both families. Laxmi's son was 10 when his father went missing, and is now not eligible for free education. Devisara's two daughters could not get government scholarships because they had also crossed the age limit.

Both families are also in a legal limbo. Devisara's daughters don't have citizenship certificates because of the absence of the father the state itself disappeared. Laxmi's children got citizenship papers only after much pressure from human rights groups.

The women also face problems in claiming their husbands' share of family property. Devisara's in-laws have refused to give anything either to her or her daughters. They live in a separate section of the same house.

"No amount of compensation will make up for our� loss, but we are at least entitled to know where our husbands are," Devisara says. Two weeks after Dil Bahadur disappeared, a local paper in Nepalganj reported that he had been executed. But Laxmi never got any official confirmation.

Laxmi and Devisara have waited for the sake of the children, but their patience is running out. Laxmi's younger son constantly talks about killing the man responsible for his father's disappearance, whom he sees walking around freely in the village every day.

Says Devisara: "Those who took away our husbands are walking free and they are threatening to kill us if we search for answers."

Searching for answers
The disappeared and the disquiet of those left behind, ROBERT GODDEN

1. K. K. Sharma
So the victims from both sides are being considered. Good.

 But the Europeans still seem to consider the victims of one side as victims, and not those from the other side.

 May be you should take a class for them to teach them what justice is and what compassion is.

2. KiranL

This is an amazing story of reconciliation and hope, if these two women who should be trying to exact revenge for the disappearances of their husbands can work together why can't our stupic political leaders. I think I know the answer: there are no women among the political leadership which is made up of 100% bahun males.

3. Bikendra Shamsher Thapa

It is painful to read the plight of Laxmi Khadka and Devisara Wali searching their husbands. This story should be a wakeup call for the Government and the Maoists to fulfill one of their major commitments. The story of Laxmi and Devisara is a reflection of failure to deliver on promises made by the state, the largest party and the human right groups.  As an active electorate, I feel embarrassed that I used my vote to elect people who have shown no interest in dealing with problems of ordinary citizens.  The politicians should not be surprised if another major uprising by common people would surface if we are constantly neglected. I urge the Maoists, the NHCR, the UNHCR and the government to act and solve the issues of disappearances. It is high time that our politicians should be involved in solving issues related to people rather than playing the game of �It�s my turn.�

4. Bishwash Khadka
This reconciliation story must be read by our politicians, so that they can understand nothing is impossible if they are determined. If their victims can walk together, why can't they?

5. Slarti
This is not reconciliation. This is recognition that what matters in the end is what you do about your own condition with your own initiative with a unique problem brought about by the ambition of fools who had nothing better to do. 

Terrorism everywhere in the world creates victims. Both these women and their families are a victim of Maoist terror machine, endorsed by the hollow intellectualism of fools who had nothing better to do. 

Their present condition demonstrates that this murder campaign and the politicians call for change had nothing to do with "human rights", "democracy" and any of that.

The so-called intellectuals, the communist sympathizers, the thieves who stole and extorted in the name of a revolution, political parties manned by people who have never done anything of value, and the media with its holier than thou attitude were all driven by two main ambitions - their hatred for Hinduism and the Monarchy. They have - if ever - taken action only against these two. 

They have not done anything, anything at all except that. They are just lying, thieving, hollow, hypocrites.

These two women have nothing because of them - whatever their difficulties before - they had a life and hope that comes with it - now they don't.  

And that is because the agragami murderers who loved to watch death and mayhem and getting rich because of it, endorsed the Maoist murder campaign, misinforming the people of this country.

There will be no closure for these women, the same people who endorsed murder now control everything, they will never let the truth be known. The lies too would be coloured for some hollow, sickening call to reconciliation which this is not.

6. Sabita Sharma
There are plenty of victims like Laxmi and Devisara, but the reconciliation of these opposite people are rare. These people must be supported to end the thinking of opposing side and converting them into allied. Thank you Srijana for bringing this news.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)