On day of disappeared, one more yearning for the missing
KATHMANDU, AUG 31 -
Amrit Kandel, a Dhading native, was quietly resting in his rented room
at Chabahil with his brother Ramhari, when the Army barged in and whisked them away on the charge of “spying.” It was 2003 and the country was in the midst of battling a Maoist insurgency. Amrit, in his early twenties and in the first year of pursuing a college degree in Kathmandu, was never heard from again.
“He was not a Maoist, nor had ever taken part in a war,” said 63-year-old Tika Kandel, Amrit’s father, tearfully. “He was a smart kid and would have been a job holder by now,” Tika, visibly affected by his son’s memories, added, rearranging the frames of his sizeably thick glasses.
Ramhari was released a month after the ‘arrest’ but Amrit never reappeared. “We were told my younger son would be released soon,” said Tika. “But he never came back.”
Kalandhar Dhakal, another father, too waits hopefully for his son’s return. Rajendra Dhakal was disappeared by the then rebel Maoists from Khairenitar of Tanahun in 1998. The aged Kalandhar has yet to perform the death rituals for his beloved son, 14 years after his enforced disappearance.
According to the data compiled by International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at least 1,400 people—like Amrit and Rajendra—were
spirited away during the insurgency period either by then CPN (Maoist)
or by state security forces. ICRC’s report was released on Thursday, on the International Day of the Disappeared, as recognised by the United Nations.
Figures of the disappeared, as recognised by the Informal Sector Service Centre (Insec) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), are 930 and 835, respectively.
On the occasion, human rights watchdogs, including the NHRC, Amnesty International and the Advocacy Forum, issued unanimous press statements condemning the government’s push to form the Commission of Inquiry on Disappearances through an ordinance. Speaking at a programme organised in the Capital on Thursday, Ram Bhandari, president of the National Network of Families of Disappeared, said the government’s move to form the commission through an ordinance could be to grant general amnesty for all wartime crimes.
Sylvie Thoral, head of the ICRC’s delegation to Nepal, said that enforced disappearances were among the worst forms of traumatic violence that could plague families forever.
In the absence of any legal acknowledgement of the special status of missing persons, families face difficulties on a daily basis and struggle to cope with various administrative and legal procedures, the ICRC stated. The statement urged government bodies responsible to take all feasible measures to account for people who went, and still are, missing.
In Nepal, enforced disappearances, which occurred aplenty during the decade-long Maoist insurgency (1996-2006), can be traced back to the 1950s, just after the Rana regime was overthrown.
An Insec report released last year stated that it was after the establishment of democracy in 1950 that the trend of enforced disappearances—considered the worst of all human rights violations—started with Ram Prasad Rai being arrested and eventually disappeared in 1951. Rai, a Nepali Congress activist, actively participated in protests against the Delhi Agreement signed the same year. Sukhdev Singh was arrested in 1956 from Inaruwa and disappeared.
Although these are the only known persons disappeared between 1950 and the commencement of the Panchayat era (1960-1989), the number grew to 27 during then king Gyanendra’s direct rule. A number of people, especially students, who opposed the king’s regime, were arrested and disappeared by security forces.
Posted on: 2012-08-31 08:06