Nepali Times
Helpless and hopeless


For those living in Kathmandu Valley the rest of the country may as well be on another planet. All they care about is that things are ok inside the Ring Road since February First.

There may be an indefinite banda in Doti, all schools may be closed in Kailali, healthposts in Bajura may be without medicine, there may be a food shortage in Humla. But who cares? The people of western Nepal stopped expecting anything from Kathmandu long ago.

The women in Dailekh defiantly stood up against the Maoists when the rebels stopped them from celebrating Dasain and tried to recruit their children. But when the rebels hunted down six members of a family they thought were ringleaders of the Dullu resistance, the other villagers fled in panic with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

"Now you are under a new government, they told us, you must stop observing all traditional ceremonies, you can't even perform last rites for the dead they told us," recalls 65-year-old Sanay.

"We had a house, a piece of land and a quiet life but it all feels like a dream now, they took away everything," says Kancha Budha another 60-year-old farmer.

"We have no more tears to shed," adds 21-year-old Kunti Shahi who fled with her child after her husband was killed.

"I was already nine-months pregnant," recalls Kamala mother of five, "my labour pains began while we were on the trail to Dailekh Bajar. I delivered him right there on the road, my fifth child, he is now seven months old."

The pain of Dailekh's displaced has not eased with time. The women have empty eyes. Could this be the same country, the Nepal that we used to know?

Pradeep Lamsal, a teacher, tells us, "The Maoists wanted me to join their militia. I refused and fled here but they beat up my pregnant wife and she suffered a miscarriage. She is still in shock. I can't even go to meet her and she's too weak to walk here."

Even villagers who once used to agree with the Maoists' goal of liberating the district from the feudal clutches of rulers far away have been let down. Once more, saviours have turned out to be just another group using the people to propel themselves to power.

"They talk a lot about working for us common folks but they do just the opposite," says Jiba Rokaya, a teacher from Dullu.

Kunti Shahi recalls that day in November when revolution turned into resistance: "We were fed up. We had given them food when they asked for it. But when they wanted our children, we couldn't stand it anymore. One day, they asked to participate in a meeting and we went armed with sticks. They began lecturing us from the roof of a house but we surrounded them and questioned them about all they had done to us. They started preaching their ideology again but one villager became so enraged that he beat them up. We captured and handed them over to the district administration. Since then, they have not returned. Still, we have to be careful. I sent my sons to Nepalganj."

The Dullu uprising was a milestone and a lesson in courage for the rest of the country. But eight months later, few political parties spoke out for the women of Dailekh, the government in Kathmandu didn't care. The people here have lost their faith in the political parties and the government long ago.

Some names have been changed to protect the identity of those interviewed.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)