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15 years on, Nepal conflict survivors await justice and development

Ninety-two-year-old Seti Magar’s eyes tear up whenever she sees a teenage girl in her village in Sunchhahari rural municipality of the Rolpa district in western Nepal. Why wouldn’t they? Over one and a half decades ago, her 18-year-old daughter was taken away from her home and killed by the Nepal Army. That incident broke her as she has never been the same since.

“She was only 18, yet they took her claiming she was a Maoist. They didn’t even bring her corpse back for me to perform her final rites,” says Magar.

It has been 15 years this week since the armed conflict between the Maoists and Nepal’s government ended formally with the Comprehensive Peace Accord. But, Magar’s tears have not stopped. Even though times are quite peaceful now, Magar is yet to have peace of mind and she wonders if her daughter will ever come back and surprise her.

As compensation, the government gave Magar Rs 1 million. But apart from that, no help came her way as she sat in her home in Jelbang, depressed and hopeless.

“They say times are peaceful now. But, to me, it isn’t. They killed my daughter and took away my peace of mind,” she says, stating both the government and the Maoists failed them and the people who died during the war.

Hundreds of others like Magar’s daughter died during the war. To remember them, memorials were built in different parts of Rolpa. But, there is not one in Jelbang and that pains Magar as she feels that her daughter died in vain.

“These top leaders might have won the war, but we lost our children in it. How do I console myself when all I think about is her,” says Magar.

This is just one story. There are hundreds of people from remote areas like Jelbang who lost their lives due to the insurgency. Most of those who lost their lives were young teenagers recruited by the Maoists to fight the war. It has been 15 years since the war was over, but the concerns of the families of these people who died in the war are yet to be dealt with by anyone. The government handed them compensation while the Maoists declared the deceased martyrs. But, apart from that, they have received no help as most of them are suffering from the mental trauma of having lost their kids so early.

The collective crisis

Jelbang village in Rolpa was a Maoist stronghold in the late 90s.

In 2002, Birsa BK,70, from Thulo Jelbang lost her toddler after getting caught in a crossfire between the Maoists and the army. The four-year-old child was with her parents who had gone to the nearby forest to get fodder for the cattle. BK and her husband survived,

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