Their bodies are covered with bruises. Dhana Bahadur, 52, his son Jhak Bahadur, 15 (pictured) and nephew Netra, 12, all look like they need immediate medical attention. "Look at what they did to my family," says Sukmaya Kumal of Maidikhola in Tanahu with tears in her eyes. Men who identified themselves as soldiers abducted the children while Dhana Bahadur was captured and tortured after he went looking for them. The story starts on 16 November when Sukmaya sent her son and nephew to sell some bananas in Bhimad market. On their way, people on motorbikes cornered the boys and said, "We are with the army, you two have to go and bring back some Maoists for us." They were told to bring Maoist leaders like Ram Bahadur and Gore to the market. The boys were scared and did not know what to do. "We told them we could not go and asked them to leave us be but they threatened to kill us," said Netra. Then the captors started beating the boys. The next day they took them to Manpur, where they were asked to sign a letter addressed to their parents. "They did not let me read the letter," said Jhak Bahadur. After their abductors left, the boys finally met the Maoists. But when they told the rebels that the army was looking for them, the rebels in turn tied the boys up and started beating them. "They made us walk for four days, now our feet are swollen. They kept on calling us spies and did not stop beating us," said Netra.
Jhak Bahadur was in a terrible state after the beatings and the forced march. He screamed, cried and passed out. His mother Sukmaya panicked when the boys did not return. Two days later, she received the letter they had signed. When the parents went looking for the boys, they were also abducted and beaten by the Maoists, who repeatedly asked them why the boys were spying on them. They were locked up in a small dark room for four days. "They kept telling us how our sons were already dead and now it was our turn to die," Sukmaya said. When she would not stop crying, they let her meet the children. "Afterwards, they threatened that they were going to kill us if we ever told anyone about being abducted," she said. Sukmaya said she could not tell us the whole story because she was scared the rebels would come and torture the family again.
The army told us they knew nothing about the reports. "If this incident really took place, someone who wanted to tarnish the army's reputation must have done it," said an army official. The human rights group INSEC has promised to conduct a detailed investigation and says its not sure if those who abducted the boys were army personnel. But this much is sure: it was the Maoists who tortured the kids and their parents.