Incident Reports

Tug-of-war among TRC members delays conflict victims’ reparation guideline


Bagmati, Kathmandu, Kathmandu

A tug-of-war among Truth and Reconciliation Commission members has unnecessarily delayed the decision on the reparation guideline prepared by its sub-committee. A seven-member panel headed by TRC member Madhabi Bhatta had prepared the guideline and submitted it to TRC Chairman Surya Kiran Gurung on September 30. The document was not presented at TRC meetings. Besides, it was also not made public for months, till Sunday when Bhatta could only retrieve its copy after a written petition. In a petition submitted to Chairman Gurung, Bhatta stated that the document wasn’t produced at TRC meetings despite her repeated requests. “It should either be endorsed or rejected by the TRC,” she told The Himalayan Times. “This is a document relating to conflict victims and their families. It should not be kept in the dark.” The draft guideline has proposed one-and-a-half dozen reparation schemes for families and dependents in conflict-era murder cases. These include financial support to the victims’ families, free education, vocational training, soft loans and residential and other facilities such as psychological counselling. Likewise, different reparation packages have been suggested in six other types of war-era crimes comprising abduction, maiming, torture, rape and sexual violence, seizure of property, forcible eviction and displacement. Bhatta claimed the document wasn’t produced at the TRC meetings at the behest of a TRC member known to be close to the ruling CPN-Maoist Centre. She, however, didn’t name the member directly. She also alleged that the TRC chairman had become indifferent. “The document had incorporated concerns of conflict victims, which the TRC member didn’t want endorsed,” she claimed. In the guideline, public apology from head of state/government or responsible persons from the conflicting parties, declaration of Martyrs’ Day in the name of victims, naming local infrastructure after the victims etc have been proposed to help heal the wounds of insurgency era crime victims. Likewise, it has also suggested seeking inputs from the victims’ side on reparations. Chairman Gurung, however, refuted Bhatta’s remarks. He claimed the document was not kept in the dark, but was at the TRC and even its copy was provided to Bhatta on the very day of her petition. Nevertheless, he did not present the guideline at the TRC meeting for discussion. He further claimed that TRC has appealed to conflict victims to provide inputs on reparation schemes by publishing a notice in Gorkhapatra Daily upon the recommendation of the guideline. Bhatta, however, questioned how it could be possible to publish a notice based on the draft guideline, which is yet to be adopted by the TRC. A TRC insider, however, said the latest feud on reparation guideline was just a part of the long-running tug-of-war between Bhatta and other TRC members, including Chairman Gurung. It can be recalled that Bhatta was relieved from her duties as TRC spokesperson in February, following a news report about internal disputes within TRC, which had appeared in The Himalayan Times.