Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Living in fear

Following the emergency, people living in the remote villages of Nepal are still having trouble with the Maoists. They feel that the army doesn't come into their villages, and the Maoists refuse to leave the villages. The Maoists have increased their pillaging, killing and looting in rural areas. Despite the emergency and the mobilisation of the army, locals feel more insecure than before. Binod Prakash Shah, chairman of the Royal Bardiya National Park Buffer Zone Development Area, has been accused by the Maoists of being an army informer. Shah, who lives in Sainbaar village of Bagnaha Village Development Committee, which lies about half-a-kilometre away from an army camp, was beaten and robbed by the Maoists. The army was unable to do anything even as the Maoists fired into a fire control zone.

"There's no security in the villages. The army patrols during the day. It's as if they are taunting the Maoists. At night, hundreds of armed Maoists come and do whatever they like," says Shah, who is being treated at Bheri District Hospital. He's worried about returning home, since there's no security. Shah's family says the Maoists have threatened to kill him if some Maoist cadres in jail are not released. Says Shah: " As I recover, my worries increase. How can I live in constant insecurity?"

A teacher for 32 years, Som Prasad Choudhary, a resident of Manpur Tapara VDC, is also a victim of the Maoists. They broke both his legs and an arm. Two weeks after the incident, he continues to feel insecure at home as the Maoists continue their violent activities in his village. "The security forces haven't provided any security. Just patrolling the main thoroughfares is not enough," says the injured Choudhary. The Maoists have accused Choudhary of inciting the local youth against them. "Why would I have done that? It's like disturbing a nest of snakes," says Choudhary.

Villagers say the security forces limit their activities to regular patrols while the Maoists roam around freely, creating havoc in villages. Locals are scared to inform the forces of Maoist movement, as they fear retaliation. In the meantime, the Maoists are shoring up their strength in the villages. As a result, innocent villagers have been caught in booby traps laid by Maoists on main village roads. "I was injured by a booby trap laid on the main thoroughfare about an hour's walk from the district headquarters," says 15-year-old Gore Khatri, a wood-seller. According to Khatri, the police and army don't go to his village, so the Maoists are very active.

Many innocent villagers like Khatri have been caught in the battle between the Maoists and the security forces. After the emergency was declared, a separate treatment programme has been set up at the Bheri District Hospital in Nepalgunj for victims of Maoist actions.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)