photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary

Durga Kumari

(NEPAL 25)










Nuwakot district





Section 1
What is your name?
My name is Durga Kumari.

How old are you?
I donít know about the age business. They say my mother died when I was very young. Who will tell my age now? And I donít know.

Approximately, have you passed 50?
I donít think I have passed 50. I may have reached 50. That too, I have no idea.

Where is your home?
In B*** VDC (Village Development Committee), under Nuwakot district.

Were you born there?
My maternal home is Bh***i. Across one river from here.

When you say the other side of the river, how long does it take to reach there?
I think it takes about an hour. Takes about an hour. Takes about one hour.

How old were you when you got married?
Got married when I was 16-17 years old.

And how many children do you have?
Have six.

Well, where are they?
At home.

In the village?
Yes, in the village.

Are they educated or not?
Two are in class VIII and one is in VII. All the daughters are married.

Where did you marry them off to?
Some in Thapa village; some in this same village.
Section 2
Do you feel people today are better off than in the past?
They are comfortable. I myself have no comfort. People of today are comfortable - they are educated, they manage [to find] some employment to feed themselves. They are fine.

And do children of this generation work in the farm or not?
They work much more on the farm. They plant mustard, too. They plant wheat here, rice there. They grow two, three crops. They do farm well.

They are farming better than in the past?

Do you remember those things?
Of course, I remember the things of the past.

How was the farming done those days?
Crops were planted only once, and now, there are two, three crops. Of course, they are the same maize and millet. Now theyíve added wheat, mustard and paddy. This has happened because of water. They brought a large canal here so thereís plenty of water. So the crop is also good. There used to be only one harvest of paddy. What else was there?

Your paddy field?
We donít have much. Father expired when I was very young. Some people have given a little bit of land, I didnít have my own. Thatís what happened later. Just a little; not sufficient to eat. Itís been about 6-7 years since we started having two harvests.

What else was there beside that?
There was no practice of planting vegetables before. There was no water, how could we plant? How could anything grow without water? Itís like that.

I see. Who brought the irrigation?
Who else? We ourselves brought it. What to do? We built a canal from the river.
We started investing our own money and in that fashion we now have irrigation both in winter and summer. Because of that, itís comfortable in the village now, a lot more than in the past.

What kind of comforts, could you please tell us?
To eat, to wear, to move around, to study, to spend Ė thereís enough for whatever. That itself is comfort. Yes, just by selling grain. No one has any steady employment, wherever you look around, that is how it is. The situation in the past wasnít good, but that is in past. The conditions now are quite good. On the other hand, the Maoists are giving trouble Ė what to call good or bad?

What has happened in the village because of Maoists?
Well, some say there are killings, some say something else. Some say they plunder. Theyíve caused so much trouble.
Section 3
You have been troubled, too?
Even though nothing happened to me, the army took my son-in-law and gave him a lot of trouble.

Had he joined the Maoists?
I donít know. There was nothing.

When was he taken?
Not too long ago.

What does he do?
The usual farm work, of course. Ploughing, selling [farm produce]; he has no employment as such.

Has farm productivity decreased in the village since the Maoists came?
That hasnít happened. They say one shouldnít move around at night. Studies have been affected. If thereís school for a day, 15 days are declared as holidays. Itís like this. It is quite difficult. Unlike in the past. [Maoists have often forced the closure of private schools.]

Do Maoists give women trouble?
They donít do anything to us.

How frequently do Maoists come to the village to ask for donations?
Perhaps because we donít have [money], they havenít come. They probably would have come, if we had [money].

A lot of public property must have been destroyed here also, isnít it?
Destroyed, of course. Everything is finished.

What all has been destroyed?
They destroyed buildings, telephone exchange etc. They attacked the VDC building. They had destroyed a lot of stuff. They didnít do anything to the school and school children. They hit the bridge, telephone and other places.

They hit the bridge in Nuwakot, too?
They did hit it, but the villagers repaired it. But they say the telephone line will be not restored for five years.

How difficult has it been without telephones?
When there was a phone or two in the village it was convenient for everyone. If you paid, it was available to everyone. That phone was in the village from the beginning. It must have been 4-5 yearsÖ that also I canít remember too well. Now, not having a telephone is like having a broken limb. Isnít it like that? Thereís nothing, or we have to go to the city ourselves. We are unaware of the happenings, good or bad, in the city.
Section 4
So it is dangerous to move around in the village wearing good clothes and eating good food?
Isnít it? It is frightening for the kids. They say they are scared to go to study, they feel the Maoists might abduct them. They havenít come to tell our kids anything so far.

Are you frightened of Maoists?
I am frightened, of course. I have no one. I have already married off my daughters. Wouldnít it be terrible if they take away my sons, too?

It must have been wonderful in the village before these Maoists came?
It was good. Nothing had happened then. Yes, one toiled and lived. It was comfortable everywhere. Everything was good - there was nothing to fear while travelling along on the roads and trails. Now it is really frightening. Now thereís no question of advising any kin (relatives) to make nice houses, do good work. They will plunder it. Many people in the village, the ones lower down, are being raided.

How is the environment now in the village because of this problem?
I am frightened. I am scared to even visit or to do anything. Now, I am convinced that the environment is bad. It isnít possible to walk around at oneís own will now, unlike in the past. In the past we used to go and come back from Kathmandu many times. Now, those staying in the city stay there and villagers stay in the village, if at all possible. The army checks five, six times on the way to Kathmandu. They donít really give us trouble, but the trouble is we have to get off and on the bus at many places. This is the kind of trouble we have. Once we have gone, we canít come straight back. Earlier, it was quite good, the army (soldiers) would simply glance inside the bus and return. We have to travel through their camp to go to Kathmandu. These days they ask us to get off the bus. They ask to see our bags. You canít keep your bag on the seat. They say even the bun (of their hair) had to be untied. I heard that a few days ago they even made everyone untie their hair just to make sure that women were not hiding anything under their buns. At least they didnít make us loosen our hair. It takes three hours to get to Kathmandu from here, two hours if one drives faster. Now, it takes longer.

After getting off the bus, how long do you have to walk to reach your village?
Takes one and a half to two hours.

How was your village before?
It was good in the past.

What do you mean by good? Please tell us because of this and that.
It was good. Whether you call it good or bad, this is it now. I have told you about the good and the bad already, how the situation was earlier and what it is like right now. Well, even if you farmed in those days there wasnít enough to eat, they say. They say this and that. Since I am uneducated, I am even more scared - itís like that. Itís not about being scared of dying [myself]. Iím only afraid that my sons may die or that they will be taken by the Maoists or the police. I only have them to depend on. There is no husband, there is no one now. So isnít it scary if they are also taken away? Of course, it is frightening.
Section 5
How old are your sons?
One is 19 years old. One is 16 years. Another is 13 years.

In which class is the 19 year old studying?
He is the one in Class VIII.

And the sixteen year old?
Also in Class VIII.

The youngest son?
The youngest is in Class VII.

Do they help you do work at home?
They have to work, of course.

Do your sons work in the field?
They do.

And do women have greater comfort now compared to the past in the village?
Itís like this. They have to do the chores. Itís not a matter of comfort or hardship; chores have to be done. No matter how hard we work, itís just sufficient for food and clothing. Of course, itís hard. In the past, it was said, work for six months a year and eat for the other six months. Earlier, you planted one crop and sat idle for six months. You ate whatever you got, and the next year came and you toiled. These days, winter crops, summer crops - you donít run out of work. You have to work even harder because of the harvests. Because of the harvests the workload has increased but the diet has also improved.

Have you seen young boys not staying in the village because of the Maoist problem?
That hasnít happened as yet. They say itís going to happen. Naturally, one has to run away if that happens. Will not be able to stay, otherwise they will kill.

How often do your relatives go to the village since the Maoist problem started?
Since they have come here and have settled here (become locals), they donít go that often. Now, because of this problem they go even less frequently. Most of the people have reduced their travels from here. Itís frightening here, they say; itís scary there, they say. You shouldnít move around at night, they say. Fewer people move around when there is fear than when they are free to move. Itís been around a year since the Maoists came to the village. They completely destroyed the womenís savings group that we had established.

What has happened to your womenís cooperative?
The womenís cooperative has been withdrawn. Of the men, nine, 10 households have not withdrawn, I guess and are still there.

How long has it been since the womenís cooperative was formed in the village?
About three years.
Section 6
This kind of cooperative is the first in your village, isnít it?
Yes, the first time.

How many women were there?
About 20, 30 in the beginning.

How much money have you borrowed? Five thousand rupees from our cooperative. Have not taken loan from outside.

Did women benefit from the formation of the womenís savings group?
They would probably have benefited. We were also getting loans. It [the deposit cycle] would be there for three months. After three months somebody else made a deposit, it would continue in this way.

The cooperative disbanded after the arrival of the Maoists?
Of course. Maoists came and began pointing guns. We are told not to have meetings and they would not let us organise any programmes. And we are not allowed to hold meetings.

And how long has it been since you have not held meetings?
Itís been two weeks since we have not held a meeting. There used to be four meetings a month. If there were four Saturdays then there would be four. If there happened to be five, then there would be five. Nowadays it is difficult, very difficult. Last time we had met and they came and asked us why we were meeting when they had told us meetings were banned. We said we were not holding a meeting but just sitting around to chat.

Who came to say that? Was that just a rumour or did they come and directly tell some people?
They pasted posters in the village. Do not hold such meetings and do not organise any programmes, it said, they say. There were many posters stating: you cannot take loans from money coming in from outside, you must hand it over to us.

Have they taken money from the cooperative?
That I do not know. The man who ran the cooperative hasnít come to the village. He stays at his own house. Now, even he cannot come to the village.

Your cooperative was doing well?
It was doing well. Every member has now accumulated 1100 rupees each, we were told. We used to deposit 5 rupees every seven days and our turn to deposit money would come every seven days. Now, many have withdrawn and taken their money because of fear. Thereís that only of those left behind.

You are still there?
Yes, I am. Out of 22 altogether, only nine are left in the group.

Tell us about the happenings in the village. How is it there, these days?
The Maoists have burnt our cooperative building, too. It hasnít been long since this happened. On the night of the 14th they began kicking the doors yelling that the money should be given to them and not the group. Geeta would come to tell us they did this and that. Geeta is a member of another savings group in the village. There are two cooperatives in our village - womenís cooperatives. Thereís a new one, too, altogether three.
Geeta came to tell us that. Since then even the person from the PDDP office (UNDPís Participatory District Development Programme), who conducts the meeting, hasnít come. If this cooperative were good, maybe something or the other would have happened. They took the loan and left. By buying some goats or doing some business, there could have been some profit at least. Perhaps, if we had continued to build on it, we could have done something big, let us say. Starting off small, maybe it would have grown big. I also bought and raised goats, bought chickens and reared them; everyone did a bit. We had a chance to make some progress. Even that is gone now.
Section 7
Now do you think this cooperative will function again?
What do I know? I donít know. How can we say anything? I am still there; at least I havenít left. Naturally, I do wish it had lasted. The others left. The nine of us still remain. There are thoughts of leaving among all of us. If everyone decides to leave there is no question of just one person staying on alone and thatís why [people] want to leave. You see, now, none of us will stay. They talk of making something by buying a small goat from the money that would be deposited there. This wonít do, they say.

Have people from your village also joined the Maoists?
None have gone from our village. Of course, if some have gone without our knowledge, I donít know about that... but not openly. They say there are, but I simply donít know. We have no right to point fingers at anyone.

Compared to the past, has the situation in the village deteriorated?
Thatís what they say, that if the situation gets worse they (the Maoists) will take over, it is said. [She has heard the situation is deteriorating and that the Maoists are mobilising young children.] There are fears that, in any case, they just might take control. If that happens, people will stop farming, isnít it? Of course, it is not possible to stop. After all, one has to eat. Farming will have to be done even if we are afraid.

Even to keep money is dangerous compared to before?
Have been told not to keep grain, forget about the money (we canít even store grain, let alone money). But nobody has come to ask for grain. They have collected grain from other places. We are the only ones they havenít come to.

How much have they taken, do you hear?
Ten, 15 pathis (1 pathi = 3.2 kg) of paddy. If you donít agree to give, they will put their hand into the storage silo and take away. They havenít come to our ward (locality). Maybe they will come. They have said they will come, but they havenít as yet.

Has the army reached your village or not?
Well, they arenít staying in the village. They are in the surrounding areas.
Section 8
The army has never stayed in the village till now?
They havenít. They are on the outskirts. Whoever catches the other first will kill the other, I suppose. The army comes here in a wave once and then immediately returns. They havenít settled here.

And what about the police?
Nobody has come.

How long has it been since the police stopped coming to the village?
Itís been a long time.

But the army and police claim they are going from village to village giving protection and are telling people not be afraid?
Thatís just talk. Well, they havenít gone, they havenít gone to protect villages. Itís just once or twice they came, quickly arrested many people and took them away. And then, the Maoists walk around the whole night, shouting slogans. They shout slogans.

What kind of slogans do they shout?
Well, they yell all night long, donít know what all they say. They shout at the tops of their voices. ďFulfill our demandsĒ, and the like, they say.

The situation seems dangerous in the village.
The situation has become dangerous. There is no protection here.

Who do they say has been providing security in the village then, the army or the police?
What sort of security could be said to have been given? They come in a swarm and go away soon after. They come first and the Maoists follow right behind them.

How many people have been arrested by the army and the police from your village since the declaration of emergency?
About 35 have been taken, I hear.

Have they taken women, too?
They havenít taken from our village, but they have from some other places, they say.

Have the police and army also taken away your relatives?
My own son-in-law was involved. The others are from here and there. They are also people I know. On given dates (for court hearings) we also had to go to Trishuli. The son-in-law was released after a number of days.

How far is Trishuli from your village?
If you go by bus, it takes a day. If you go on foot, you canít return in a day. If you go by bus, you can make it back.

Did the police beat your son-in-law?
The police will beat, naturally. He was beaten, they say. My son-in-law is walking around, but the village teacher was beaten severely. They say he was beaten so badly, he canít even stand on his feet. Now, there is no teacher to teach in the school.
Section 9
They must also have gone underground, isnít it?
Donít know.

Did you ever think before that such a situation would come to the village?
No. Everyone in the village was like a brother or sister. We had no inkling at that time who all came to the village from outside, who all stayed, and what all happened. Now it seems like everybody is fighting among themselves.

Donít you feel that you shouldnít fight among yourselves?
Now, who will listen to us? The present times are like that, the people have become like that.

Does that mean people of the past were good?
People of the past didnít fight.

Why have the Maoists come, do you think?
It isnít that oppression has increased. Maybe they feel that they could treat the public in that manner if they could also live like that. Perhaps they want to better their lot, live in comfort. The Maoists want to establish their own authority, I suppose.

Are the villagers now squeezed between two ďgovernmentsĒ?
Thatís why thereís fear, otherwise what is there to be afraid of? The police and army come to protect and go away after a while, and then the Maoists come. Those that die, die. When will the police and army come to give protection? We have to live in fear. How scared we are.

Is it possible to sleep at night?
At night, we are afraid we might get killed from that side. I was scared to death that day. I thought they had come to the verandah and blasted [a bomb]. Hearing the noise, my daughter said ďMother, theyíve finished the telephone today.Ē It was the 29th, a Saturday. We had a puja (religious ceremony) in the house that day.

How far is the telephone from your house?
Itís not far from my house. Itís about that much from here, really close. You get there after a short walk.

It was the first of such blasts?
It has happened twice.

What happened the first time?
They blasted the same place. They blasted it twice. Three, four months after first blasting it, they blasted it again. Now it wonít be repaired for five years, they say. We heard the Maoists blasting the telephone [exchange and towers] - the first time and the second time, too.

How did you feel when you heard the bomb blast for the first time?
There was a booming sound.

Were you afraid?
Of course, it was scary since it felt as if the blast occurred on the verandah. My house is on the road. I donít notice much at night. We donít know who walks around at night since they donít walk around during the day.
Section 10
So the people responsible for the blast arenít seen?
They arenít seen.

You havenít seen a single Maoist up to now?
I havenít seen anybody at night. They wonít walk about during the day.

You havenít seen anybody walking around carrying a gun till now?
No, I havenít. They go around carrying torches and shouting slogans at night. We shouldnít step out of the house at night, weíre told. What do I know?

Can one see Maoists walking around, carrying torches at night?
One can see from a distance.

Why do you suppose the Maoists have destroyed telephones like this?
Well, maybe they needed it. But they want to do away with the King.

How will destroying the telephones finish off the King?
It costs money to fix it.

Make the King spend his money?
Yes, thatís what they say.

What would happen if the King were to be killed? Wonít that be a sin?
They will be able to live in peace after the King is killed.

How would it be if Maoistsí rule were imposed?
Well, I havenít been able to understand. They go around behaving like this now, wonder what will happen later. How could anything you donít know be good? It is like this now, do you think they will do good later? Well, what will these people make (create)? They completely destroy what has already been built.

Do you dislike the destruction caused by the Maoists?
I donít like the destruction of things that have already been built.

Have the Maoists beaten up villagers?
Well, I donít remember any beatings. I havenít heard about beatings. It has happed in other villages, but here I do not know. Of course, it has happened in other areas Ė my other son-in-law is in Kathmandu hospital after the Maoists broke his limbs. He still canít move his hands and feet. They havenít let his family live in peace in the village either, beating and chasing them. Now whatever they do, thereís nothing that can be done. This is what is happening.

Where is your son-in-lawís village?
In G***.
Section 11
Where is G***?
Itís also in Nuwakot.

Was he hit with a khukuri (Nepali curved knife)?
I believe he was hit by a ghan (large iron hammer). He was hit all over.
And he had to leave the village. He just wasnít allowed to live in the village. Since he wasnít allowed to stay, his entire property in the village has been taken by others. Thereís been a lot of crying.

Where are they now?
Well, they say they are in hiding in Kathmandu. They wouldnít let them stay in the wifeís maternal home, either. The children couldnít go to school and couldnít even sit their exams. The children were chased away from the maternal home, too.

Why did the Maoists treat them that way?
Well, they say he wasnít good in the village before. I donít know myself. I donít remember whether they behaved well or badly. It doesnít seem to me that they (the family) behaved badly before. What they did, only they themselves know.

Your son-in-law from this village was probably engaged only in farming, isnít it?
My son-in-law was a farmer. Once I was building my house and he didnít come to my house. You know, I am building a house. And that day my son-in-law had come to my house. And thatís the time the army took him away.

Was your son-in-law also involved in politics?
I donít know. Poor chap, what politics would he do? He would just plough and live. He isnít educated, what kind of politics he would do?

Did he move around here and there on party work?
No, I donít know. His father died when he was just a child. He looked after five or six Ė how would he study or be involved in politics? Poor chap, he knows nothing.

Do you feel that the army has unnecessarily taken him away and given trouble?
Yes, I feel he was needlessly taken away.

Your daughter must also have been sad when your son-in law was taken?
Of course, one feels sad. Even though he has been released, the date [for the hearing] is still there. Now at a time when he has to take care of Asaar-Srawan [June/ July/August] work he has to frequently report to Trishuli. Naturally that creates problems. When he was arrested and taken away, the daughter and grandchildren cried and created a scene. There was gaiety only when he was finally released and returned home.