NEPALGUNJ, Sept 8: In lack of proper mechanism for distribution of the relief money and the authority to oversee the whole process, many families of the disappeared have yet to get the compensation promised by the government. Some families have already received the reparation, offered in two installments, but others have been left to wander from pillar to post.
Shakuntala, whose husband Kiran Kumar Malla of Fultekra-6, Nepalgunj, was disappeared by Nepali Army some 15 years ago, is displeased over the manner in which the relief money is distributed.
She has been frequenting the District Administration Office and the Peace Committee to collect the relief amount, but each time they send her back empty-handed. “The Peace Committee keeps telling me that it has not received the money from the center,” Shakuntala said.
Her husband Kiran used to work as a cook at Hotel Punjabi at Dhamboji in Nepalgunj when he was taken away by army men on August 19, 1997. The army has given no explanation why Kiran was disappeared.
According to Shakuntala, their son, who was 18 days old when Kiran disappeared, is now in 8th grade and keeps asking about his father.
Similarly Tulsi, wife of Khadak Bahadur Bista who was disappeared by the state authority from Salyanibangala of Nepalgunj on August 9, 2003, rushes to the Peace Committee in the district every time she hears about other families getting relief amount but returns uncertain as usual.
The disparity in doling out the relief amount by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction has been breeding discontent among the families of victims who were united in their struggle against the authorities earlier.
“There are cases in which families who have faced similar fate receive different kind of compensation. The government is inviting another conflict by doing this,” said Kaliram Tharu, whose daughter was forcibly disappeared by Nepali army on June 12, 2004.
What has irked many victim families the most is that those who are well connected to political parties and have access to district administration have already received both the installments, while others without such links have been denied even the first installment.
The mother of Bhojraj Dhakal of Kohalpur, who was abducted by the Maoist rebels 10 years ago, has long been waiting to hear from the Peace Committee about the relief amount. “Sometimes I am asked to go to the Peace Committee and sometimes just told to come another day,” said Bishnumaya. “Neither have I received any support nor the abductors of my son have been brought to book.”
The (UCPN) Maoist-led government headed by Puspa Kamal Dahal had first announced Rs 100,000 as the relief amount to be provided for the conflict victims. Later, the government added Rs 25,000 for the wives of the people forcibly disappeared and additional Rs 10,000 to Rs 14,000 thousand for the education of the victims´ children.
The government led by Baburam Bhattarai again increased the relief amount to Rs 300,000.
“The local leaders are busy helping their supporters to get the relief money, while the families of those disappeared, who are in genuine need of support, are deprived of the money,” said Bishnumaya.
As per the District Peace Committee of Nepalgunj, a total of 121 people were disappeared by the Maoist rebels and the state authority during the conflict period. Only 58 victim families have received the promised relief amount so far.