photo of person from Nepal Sindhulpalchok
Nepal glossary


(NEPAL 26)








news vendor


Lamjung district





Section 1
Please say something about yourself.
My parent’s home is at H***, Ward No1, Gorkha. My home is at B*** VDC, Ward No 5. Mother-in-law and father-in-law are at home. My husband has four brothers. I am the eldest daughter-in-law. My husband’s second younger brother is in jail on political charges. The wife of my husband’s second younger brother is working at a farm in Pokhara. The husband’s third younger brother lives around Pokhara. They are engaged in their own work. The youngest brother is in the hills. He is studying in 10 plus 2 (pre-university).
My youngest unmarried sister-in-law was there. Earlier she was involved in a movement demanding a reduction in school fees and that ordinary people should get the opportunity to study. She had an inclination towards the Maoists, but was not in a position to walk out, leaving everything. I was staying with the husband at N*** [in the plains]. I didn’t stay at home much. For two years I kept my sister-in-law here and educated her. I educated my sister-in-law here in S*** School. She passed I. Ed (Intermediate in Education exam) from here. After that she went home. Our B*** area is a Maoist area. Our home is [over] there. Now the Maoists may have come to our home, too. Once Maoists come and go, there will be influence. That way she joined the students’ movement.
A huge public meeting was supposed to have taken place in our village school. They had reportedly gone along with (supported?) the movement that children of poor ordinary people must get an opportunity to study. My sister-in-law was also present at that rally (mass political gathering). There were seven of them after the rally ended. There was no place to eat food in the village. That place is located on the ridge of a mountain. There was no place nearby to eat after the rally so they had to go to the mountain ridge. They had taken loaves of bread and biscuits with them. At that time the police were on patrol. After eating they had gone to drink water. Who reported what, I don’t know, but she was arrested while was drinking water. She wanted to fetch water for her friends to drink too, and as she was coming carrying two small water vessels she was arrested.
According to reports, she was told to take off her clothes after the arrest. And she was shot dead. That I did not see. A local person who saw the incident reported that. Later we went to bring the dead body home. There was a local Gurung Society (Gurungs are an ethnic group of Mongolian, Tibetan ancestry with their own language and culture). One Gurung dai (an older male) had seen [what happened]. In between what was being said he also could not hear (possible meaning: in the confusion, he could not make out what was being said?). But her arms were held on both sides and she was riddled with bullets, that child. I’d rather they killed my milch buffalo, not that child. That child is a very good child. She came to my home many times and ate, she did not feel awkward, that was the type of child she was. “Don’t kill her, don’t kill her,” they said, but they were (she was?) killed, according to that Gurung dai.
Later we went to B***. Before that, perhaps no one had gone to bring back the bodies of Maoists killed by the police. We had not heard [of this] either. We had a shop for books, newspapers, magazines at N***. I ran this shop. I had not heard of that sort of incident [in the news]. That may have been the first incidence of the public bringing the body of their relative home and performing funeral rites. Our sister’s body must have been the first one, it must have been.
Section 2
In which year did this incident happen?
The year 2000. The incident took place on the 10th day of Bhadra (August), 2000.

You went to bring the body yourselves? There was no problem while going to bring the body?
All the local villagers from our village went to bring the body. The villagers said, “She is a relative from our society.” “She is our daughter,” they said. There was no question of saying, “This [person] is a communist and that [one] is a Congress man (supporter of Nepali Congress Party). Everyone surged forward. We came back with the body. After the body was brought back it became a challenge for the government. There is an area police office at B***. The person in charge there was an Inspector. Later he said to those who went to bring back the body, “You all went to bring the body of a Maoist. I will lock all of you underground in the cold.” “I can kill those I like,” he told the villagers. That sort of thing we also heard from the mouths of villagers.
Immediately after that, maybe due to this incident or maybe for revenge, another incident took place in our B***. Nine policemen were killed in an attack on the area police office. The local view when policemen get killed is that they were giving trouble, and so they (local people) became very happy when the same policeman [who had been involved in the shooting of the sister-in-law] died. The villagers told us that after all he was going to die anyway - then why did he say all those things when we went to collect our relatives’ body, to confirm that she was dead [because she had died in a different village, away from her relatives]? And finally he himself (the policeman involved in the shooting) died there. Rather, there was talk at that time that the Maoists did the right thing. After that even the administration could not do anything.
We used to go home occasionally. For two, three years I have been staying out [of the area] most of the time. I go home only occasionally. My husband is also engaged in journalism outside. He was also detained by army for 28 days in Chitwan in July. He was lost for many days. He was locked up in those barracks and when I went to meet him, they told me he had not been brought there. He was kept blindfolded for the entire 28 days. He was beaten badly. “All your family members are Maoists - where are they and who else are Maoists?” they said. Even since returning from the barracks he has been like a sick man. The army kicked him and beat him with sticks. When he was beaten to the extent of losing consciousness, then they poured water on him. Then only did he regain consciousness. I have two young daughters. We stay here in rented accommodation. How difficult it has been for me.
Section 3
A little while ago you mentioned the wife of your elder brother?
That was in my parents’ home. My parents’ home is also a Maoist area. And in the matter of Maoist tax…This February it has been one year since I went to my parents’ home. This matter is from that time. The Maoists had asked her for 20 kg of paddy. “I paid 20 kg of paddy,” she had said. Then they asked my elder brother’s son for money. Thereafter he did not stay at home. He is said to be in the Kathmandu area now. Perhaps he is in a “Maoist-affected organisation” (organisations formed by people who have been displaced from the villages by Maoist activities in order to fight against the Maoists).

Do you also have Maoist-affected organisations in the village?
That I do not know. They have not been formed here, have they? Rather, people from the village have gone to Kathmandu and stayed there. It’s not as bad as in our parents’ village at Rolpa district [headquarters of the Maoists]. Gorkha, Lamjung [districts in mid-western Nepal which have been greatly affected by Maoist activity] have not had such a bad time as Rolpa. But in relation to the Maoist situation, Gorkha and Lamjung are [often] compared to Rolpa [even though the situation is not quite as bad].

Are there people living in the district headquarters of Gorkha and Lamjung because they are not able to live in the villages because of Maoists?
There is one person from our home side, from the Lamjung side. The people from a place called Chisanku have gone to Kathmandu and stayed.

Have people been displaced from Gorkha and Lamjung after the start of the Maoist problem?
Those who were engaged in exploiting labour in the village itself have been displaced (meaning the richer people/village elite who employed poorly paid labourers). Where will the rest go? Whether they are killed or whatever else is done, they have to stay in the same place. They don’t have wealth of their own. Those who earned some [money] before by exploiting workers are in a position to go outside and have gone too; many such people have gone. Now most of the treacherous, deceitful spies of Maoists and those who exploit the public have left the village. Some ordinary people also have left village and gone. In people’s view, there are different angles (perspectives). There will not be a single view [on the matter?]. It looks like that to us, too.

That is to say?
The exploiters of the past. For example, that elder brother I told you about who has gone to Kathmandu and is living there and is presently also in a Maoist-affected organisation. He was the one who had adopted our distantly related orphaned elder sister. You heard the story of the elder sister, too. At the time of the elder sister’s marriage he did not call anyone. He is the kind of person to keep that sister in that condition. He embezzled that elder sister’s wealth and looked after her badly. The Maoists must take action against such a person even though he is my own elder brother. Not only Maoists but anyone should take action against such a person, one who has mistreated an orphan. It’s not only Maoists who should take action. I am not on the side to say that whatever the Maoists did was right. They also have many weaknesses.

If you have to be impartial, what would you say are the weaknesses of Maoists?
It’s not good that Maoists are also levying tax, collecting 20 kg of paddy from the general public. Now for the poor, 20 kg of paddy will be enough to eat for two days. To do this is also bad. Maybe one or two may have reported to the police about Maoists but on that pretext it is not good to kill ordinary people. When the police and army beat and threaten to kill someone unless he tells them who the Maoists are, that person may point to someone and say the person is a Maoist just to save his own life. And the army and police also resort to killing such people after they are caught and taken, I hear. Thus killing people soon after they are arrested is not good. Rather they should keep them for two, four days – talk to them, counsel them, give them some physical punishment. But once someone is killed his life is gone. The practice of killing is not good. The practice of killing from both sides is not good.
Section 4
Now both sides have killed many people in your village?
We had a teacher in our Lamjung village. His son has gone to [join a] student group of Maoists. The father was a teacher and his son went to the Maoists. That boy had studied up to I.Sc (Intermediate Science exam, equivalent to A level). While he was doing well in studies, his thought went towards that. He ran away, but there was no reason for the father to suffer and die. But while his father was teaching he was dragged out of school and taken by the police. His name is *****. A teacher who was teaching in the classroom was taken by the army and on the way beaten severely and killed. This incident took place after this emergency was imposed. This is a recent happening. The son became a Maoist and ran away. The son has not been found as yet. And the father is the one to die! If the army meets that teacher’s son [it’s different]; one could say he joined Maoists with the thought of killing or getting killed. To protect their jobs also the police and army have come out to either kill or get killed. Both sides are going around killing or being killed.
In that respect I don’t care about the two sides clashing and killing each other. Yes, for those who come out to kill or die, it is better that they die. They have joined, knowing they might die the next day, or kill. They have gone to war either to bring a change of government or to die. But to kill a father in anger because a son has joined the Maoists is not the right thing to do. If the son was killed we might have thought he may have gone somewhere to kill the army and police, and might have died in a clash. But to kill his father was really not good. What would have happened in that teacher’s home? The elder son left home and joined the Maoists and when he will die it’s not known. How must the mother have felt? The husband was killed that way by the army while he was teaching in class, what will the wife do to survive? There are many problems of this type in our village now. This is just an example. I feel extremely sad, thinking of all this.
I know that teacher. He was like our mother-in-law and father-in-law. That teacher was around 50, 51 years old. Out of his four, five offspring, the eldest son ran off to join the Maoists. Now how is the mother going to rear the younger ones? A person of the hills, she is suffering a lot and her condition is pitiable. The house of the teacher who died is on top of the hill. It’s not in the farming area and the whole family depended on the teacher for survival. After the emergency was imposed they told my mother-in-law, who is 70, 75 years old, that all her sons and daughters were Maoists and [asked her] where she had hidden them? And she was kicked with boots, the poor old woman. We have not been able to go to the village since the imposition of emergency.

Would all those killed by the security forces after the emergency was imposed be Maoists?
Well, what can I say? In the name of Maoists they may have killed some ordinary people too. I feel that since the emergency came into force all those who were arrested on suspicion, brought to the police station and army barracks and killed, are made out to be killed in “clashes” between the two sides - as given in the news. But I do not believe the news reports about so many “Maoists killed with weapons in their hands” because before our very eyes one incident took place recently at G*** in Chitwan. I said in front of our eyes although I was not there in person to witness the incident. Still, my close relation was there.
It was at the time of Nepal bandh (literally “closed”; all-Nepal strike, called by protesting political groups/unions). It was the time for sowing maize. We wanted to plough the field with a tractor so we spread manure in the whole field all day and went to look for a tractor. Just at the time of going to look for a tractor, army personnel dressed in Maoist uniform started a Maoist rally there. A chautari (platform built of wood, stone or brick for sitting on) was close by. The army men pretending to be Maoists went to the chautari and started off: “So please come, comrades, this is what is happening in the country. This problem has to be solved. We have come to inform you about this.” And they delivered a speech, saying we have to do this and that. There are many people in that place who migrated from Baglung [district, Western Region]. And after listening to the speech all the local people gathered there - women, children, men - all gathered there.
And after everyone had gathered, army vehicles and army personnel reached there and cordoned off the area. When the whole area was seized, some were afraid, some started screaming, some started to cry. As a result some people started running to try to escape. After that the army opened fire at those who were escaping. One person we knew also died. That helpless man was an only son. Having spread manure in the paddy fields all day he still had manure on his hands when he was shot dead. And he had gone to hide under the building, which had the tractor in it. “I will hide,” he had said as he went to the building with the tractor. The army reached there, and saying “this one is a real Maoist”- they shot him dead. That boy may have been around 32, 33 years old.
Section 5
Do you know that person?
I didn’t known him. His clan is Gaire. I do not know the first name. My elder sisters knew him quite well – [he was] my elder sister’s neighbour. After that we listened to the evening news – after that incident took place. We heard the news that in Chitwan one terrorist died in a “clash”. We heard like that in the national news on TV. Since hearing that news the local people of that area – that place – have changed, it is said. That area is an enclave of Baglungay society (people who migrated from Baglung district) and though they are not staunch Congress people, they are of the type likely to give votes to the Congress (the ruling political party). But Congress will not get votes from there in the forthcoming election. People there have started saying: “They have killed in front of our eyes, and say in the news that it was in a ‘clash’ - that is not done.” The government is of the Congress [party]. Now they’ve reached a point where they say they will not go to give votes to anyone. I have given these two examples.

We hear that many people labelled Maoist terrorists and killed by the army and police during the current State of Emergency are innocent. Do you also feel like that?
Apart from what is happening in the police camps, innocent members of the public have died. That farmer and that teacher have died. There will be no solution to the problem by killing people. Now due to army operations the movement of Maoists will be pushed back a little. But there is no guarantee that later Maoists will win and Maoists will come. I am worried about whether this country and we Nepalese will survive or not.
Section 6
Do you feel that migration/displacement of people is increasing due to the Maoist problem?
Migration is increasing. I will give you one example. Now I am staying at Ga*** in Chitwan district in rented accommodation. There is one person we know. He is supposed to be a mischievous person (exploitative, unscrupulous) in his village. His own people from the village say he is mischievous. Because of that the Maoists levelled charges against him. As the Maoists initiated action against him for being mischievous (for exploiting the poor) he ran away from the village and came here to stay. [Then] his mother passed away in the village there. They are three brothers and he is supposed to be the youngest one. We have read in newspapers that Maoists have even killed persons performing funeral rites of relatives. That is why he was afraid to go to the village to perform funeral rites when his mother died. Not to go to the village at the time of one’s mother’s death is a serious matter, as a son has to perform the funeral rites according to the Hindu religion. Or else if one was a Maoist, then it could be said he had given up religion. He is not a Maoist but a Congress man. There was a problem as to how to perform the funeral rites. Their own people, people staying close to our place, looked for a room and arranged to perform after-death rites for 12, 13 days. That type of situation also arises. Mischief makers have left the village and run away that way. If he had done nothing wrong then he would not have had to leave the village at all. Our people have not left the village. I feel that there has to be some wrongdoing in order to reach a situation where one has to fear the Maoists.

So are the majority of those leaving the villages mischief-makers (those who exploit others, who discriminate against the poor and lower castes)?
The Maoists have [also] targeted some on the basis of personal anger and hostility. It’s not that they haven’t [sometimes] attacked for that reason. My own elder brother in our parents’ place has been targeted. Another elder brother of mine has become a Maoist. Another youngest elder brother was badly beaten by Maoists and was laid up for two, three months. One elder brother has left the village and has run away somewhere. What to do? It is happening this way in our own family.

What do you mean by personal anger and hostility?
Now the Maoists have come and taken action. My youngest elder brother has the habit of talking too much. It was my brother’s weakness. He had to speak a lot and in the process he might have made mistakes. Somewhere and somehow, some mistakes may have been made. Now at one time there was a wave [of enthusiasm] for local boys to join the Maoists and establish a people’s government. And the elder brother said things to them. The same local Maoist boys came and cut off my elder brother’s feet. Right or wrong, why get mixed up in such a situation, I feel? He is my own elder brother and the Maoists have cut off his feet. But for what reason, what fault - the Maoists did not give an answer for up to a month. My elder brother’s wife is a teacher. She teaches in school. She asked for an explanation - why was my husband cut, what is the reason and what is my husband’s wrongdoing? She spread the word that they are now taking action this way without any valid reason [and so] they may take action again tomorrow on another pretext. That was the place where Maoists were present everywhere. If you had gone to that village before the Emergency was imposed you could meet all categories of Maoists. After the Maoist problem started I also used to wonder what the Maoists were all about and went to Gorkha to find out while I was studying at Chitwan at that time. I didn’t see anyone dressed in uniform but saw those I knew. Maoists used to be there in everyone’s homes at that time.
Section 7
What charges did the Maoists level against your youngest brother then?
The reason for the Maoists taking action against our brother is supposed to be for “helping people” and that is the one charge Maoists have made against him. What “help” that elder brother extended is not known. I have said before that my eldest brother’s son, who is the Maoist-afflicted one staying in Kathmandu, was supposed to have been helped by my elder brother. Actually my elder brother is a veterinary doctor. He sold medicines. He is supposed to have charged more (too much) for the medicines, and this was another reason. We investigated that charge made by Maoists.
We discovered that the action being taken against him was unwarranted. Now is it really Maoists taking action against my elder brother or not? It is possible that local boys may have come and beaten up our elder brother. Somebody’s buffalo may have died, due to the medicines given. Or else medicines may have been costly (ie he over-charged). [What happened] may be due to all these reasons. And later I enquired from those close to the Maoists why they were taking action against him - there has to be some real reason since at the same time he is also supporting the Maoists. [I said,] “He is extending help by exchanging common news (helping to spread information?) and so why do you take action against him?” One from his family has joined the Maoists. One is in Kathmandu and he is looking after the family. My elder brother is now looking after the children of his elder brother who has gone with the Maoists. Lately he got his elder brother’s daughter married. At present his elder brother is going around as a Maoist and Maoists are taking action against the younger brother. When I said that, someone there took action and they walked away saying, “Long live the Maoists”. And later the Maoists reached the conclusion that there was no need to take any action against my elder brother.
Now I must say that, in sum, many changes have come to the village and homes in the last six years. Life is not easy and secure in the hills like before. Since able-bodied people [meaning those who are young and productive but felt discriminated against/exploited and so have joined the Maoists] entered the jungle [they now live in the forest to evade government forces], production has gone down. Development in the village has ceased totally. Now, due to the Maoist problem, we have not been able to take our harvested paddy to the market in Lamjung to sell for two, four years. The price of paddy has gone down. Youths from the village are going abroad. Now this is no situation in which to stay in the village. Many people have been displaced. Those who did some mischief and made mistakes (those who exploited others) before in the village, are not in a position to stay in village. The poor and ordinary people that stay there do so under constant fear from both Maoists and the army. Now during the Emergency there is fear of the army and the authorities, everyone thinking about what they might do next. Those who can run away and those who are in a position to run away have already run away. Now the poor are still staying. In the end, the ones who suffer are the poor.