Shree Ram Chaudhary and Bhagi Ram Chaudhary
Mina and Anil (Photo by
If a crow caws in the vicinity of a house, it is
believed to be conveying a message to the house.
There is the village of Kauwaghari in Goltokuri Village Development
Committee (VDC) in Dang District named after the crow, called kauwa
in the Tharu language, because it was the habitat of thousands of
crows long ago. Today, however, one can find a settlement of Sarkis
rather than crows in Kauwaghari.
On June 30, 2002, the crows in Kauwaghari brought bad news to the
locals. A dozen villagers who had been to the local forest were
killed on the spot by the army.
An 85-year-old Sarki man, Sonbir Nepali, said, “Our forefathers
migrated to Dang from Salyan in 1885. Since then, we made our living
with hard work; but whatever the circumstances, we were happy.
However, God envied the little happiness that was dwelling in the
village and forced my aged eyes to see the dead bodies of the 12
youths who were in their prime with dreams in their eyes.”
He added that, after migrating to Kauwaghari, the Sarkis, one of the
country’s lowest castes, started earning their living through their
traditional occupation of making leather shoes. Then the exchange
value for a pair of slippers was 10 pathi (32.5 kilograms) of rice
and for a pair of shoes a muri (75 kilograms) of rice. People used
to get three muri of rice as their wage for hammering a horse’s
saddle. This was payment enough to sustain the people, but soon
after the establishment of the Bashbari Shoes Industry the
government instituted a tax on leather, and the Sarkis were
compelled to leave their traditional occupation. They changed their
means of earning a living to rearing animals, collecting firewood
and other work or working as daily waged laborers.
Following the cruel murder of these 12 innocent men, the livelihood
of many villagers was disrupted.
This is a story of the family of Resham Nepali, one of the 12
victims. Resham was living with his wife, a son and a daughter
rather than with his parents. After the murder of the only
breadwinner in the family, his widow Radha Nepali went through a
terrible time but was unable to go to her in-laws and share her
The three years following the death of her husband was like 30 years
to Radha. Her daughter Mina, 10 years old, started helping Radha
with household chores while her son Anil was 4 years old and going
to school. Her children were Radha’s only consolation. She sent her
children to school on the morning of Aug. 30, 2005. She used to
scold the children if they returned home late from school, but that
day she sent the children to play near the house of their
grandparents as soon as they were back from school.
Suddenly, the horrible news spread through the village that Radha
had committed suicide by hanging herself. Mina and her little
brother were instantly orphaned. Now they live with their
grandparents. Grandmother Parbati Nepali questions herself all the
“My son was killed by the security forces,” she says. “It was his
destiny, but I do not understand why my daughter-in-law committed
suicide, leaving behind her young children in peril? I am unable to
take care of myself. Who will care for them?”
Lacking proper care, the two orphans, Mina and Anil, look dirty and
abandoned. When Mina had boils on her body, the family had no money
to treat her; and as a result, she was unable to go to school for
Mina, who is now in grade three at a local school, says, “We were in
great pain when my father was killed, but we were recovering until
my mother committed suicide, tortured by her suffering, and the sky
fell in on us. Now we have no one in the world. Our children’s club
is the only way to forget all the pains of life.”
There are many unfortunate children like Mina and Anil in Kauwaghari.
Although they were not directly involved in Nepal’s war, these
little ones have become its victims. Now they have been deprived of
everything; there isn’t even a hand to soothe them.
* Shree Ram Chaudhary is the program manager of the Society for
Participatory Cultural Education (SPACE) in Gulariya in Nepal’s
Bardiya District and Bhagi Ram Chaudhary is the chairperson of the
Society for Environment Education Development (SEED) in Tulsipur in
Dang District. Shree Ram took part in Interfaith Cooperation Forum’s
(ICF) School of Peace (SOP) in Bangalore, India, in 2006, and Bhagi
Ram was a SOP participant in 2008.
The book Sighs of the Conflict: Impact, Coping Mechanisms and
Rebuilding of Lives in Dang, edited by Simon Robins, was
published by SEED and translated from Nepalese into English by Purna
Chaudhary, Sabina Bhattarai and Shila Khulal.