June 2011


Doctrine divides, Action unites

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A Family and a War
Laxmi Pathak

In Nepal, there was a decade of war from 1996 to 2006 between the government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), or CPN (Maoist). During this war, the Nepalese people were affected directly or indirectly by both sides. Many people lost their lives, relatives, properties, harmonious relationships and migrated from their own communities. People were killed, arrested, disappeared and tortured by both sides during this period. Many innocent people were arrested in the name of being Maoist supporters and tortured in the country’s army barracks. There are many cases in which those that were arrested lost their good health through the use of torture, and some people now have psycho-social problems. In short, the war was very terrible.

Mostly women and children were directly affected by the war, however. Many women lost their husbands, sons, daughters, fathers and/or brothers and sisters. Some women were raped and tortured by the military forces. Similarly, many children became orphans and were denied their most basic rights, such as their right to protection and education.

The story of one family and how the war has changed their lives perhaps best reveals the devastation of Nepal’s war on its people.

In Need of Hope

Thirnath Sharma and his family in Nepal

Thirnath Sharma, 36 years of age, was born in Baglung Municipality–11 in Baglung District in the western region of the country. There are five members in his family—an 87-year-old father, two children and his wife. He had completed his bachelor degree in law from the Prithwi Narayan Multiple Campus in Pokhara and had received a license as a lawyer. He had a small plot where he grew vegetables and a small shop near the market. He had a very happy family. He was also an active person and worked hard and managed his family very nicely. He was a good shopkeeper in his community and a talkative young man. He was very curious to know about the situation of the country even though he was not committed to any political parties. Overall, he was just engaged in his work and taking care of his family.

During the armed conflict, there was an emergency situation in Nepal. The Maoists destroyed police stations and army barracks while the army arrested, disappeared and killed people without any inquiry, all of which was “normal.”

It is in this context that an army barracks in Dang District was attracted by the CPN (Maoist) armed forces, who then went underground. In response, the government’s armed forces started a search movement in the name of a general inquiry in and around the country. As a result, many innocent young people were arrested and tortured in the army barracks.

In February 2001, Thirnath Sharma was among those who were arrested by the army. He disappeared for a month. It was difficult to ask about his whereabouts because of fear of the military. His old father and his wife with a small baby constantly cried. They went here and there to inquire about their arrested family member. After a month, the army told his family that he had been arrested, but they did not release him. He remained in the barracks for three months without any reason. He was then released by the army, and the government declared that he was innocent.

When he was released from custody, he became sick. He had a urinary problem at first along with psycho-social problems. Later he slowly lost his memory, and one leg became paralyzed. After two or three months, his other leg also became paralyzed, and he could not walk, needing someone to help support him when standing. He was hospitalized, and the doctor said that the white membrane of his brain had been cracked by external pressure. The doctor prescribed medicine to him that he will have to take for the rest of his life, but the doctor said that further improvement is not possible. He was hospitalized for a long time, spending lots of money and selling his properties. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Advocacy Forum in Nepal provided some money to help defray the cost of his medical expenses.

Now his small shop has closed, and he is in bed forever. He has lost his health, memory and is suffering from economic poverty. At his young age, he has nothing. He still needs support to even stand.

Because of the family’s poor economic condition, his two children are vulnerable. There is a high probability that the children will have to migrate and become child laborers even though his 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son have received good grades in school and have a strong willingness to continue their education. Moreover, they have to take care of their old grandfather. The situation of the family is very, very critical; they have been affected very badly by the conflict. They are now staying in a rented room even they have no source of income. They have become homeless, landless and hopeless.

They are now appealing to national and international humanitarian organizations and individuals for support and especially for the children’s education. A small amount of support will be very valuable and meaningful to them, especially for a better future for the children. They are being assisted by the Dhaulagiri Community Resource Development Center (DCRDC) in Baglung Municipality–11, which can be contacted by e-mail at <dcrdc@ntc.net.np> for those who would like to assist them.

* Laxmi Pathak works for the child rights organization Plan Nepal in Makwanpur. She is a 2008 alumni of the School of Peace (SOP) conducted by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) in Bangalore, India.