Incident Reports

TRC asks govt, parties not to meddle in war-era incidents- Binodh Ghimire reports on Transitional Justice



On December 2, former prime minister and CPN (Maoist Centre) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal signed a three-point agreement on reparation with a section of victims of the Bandarmude incident in Madi in which 38 people died during the insurgency when the Maoist rebels ambushed a bus. Two months since the former rebel leader signed the deal on the eve of elections, the government led by Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba on Thursday announced those killed in the incident as martyrs. In order to look into the war-era atrocities, the government in 2015 formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with a mandate to investigate cases of crime against humanity such as the Bandarmude incident. But no government of the Maoist Centre, the CPN-UML or the incumbent led by the NC has provided necessary resources and support to the commission for investigation. Political leaders, however, have not failed to politicise the issue for partisan interest. “We firmly stood against Dahal’s act to forge the agreement. Now we are against the government’s decision to declare martyrs, if that is true,” said TRC Chair Surya Kiran Gurung, adding that the commission was yet to get the formal decision on martyr declaration. “No one should politicise the issue for political gains. This breaches our jurisdiction.” He added that such acts hamper the performance of the commission and undermine its authority to reveal the truth behind war-era crimes. Besides those killed, 75 people sustained injuries when then-rebel Maoists ambushed the overcrowded bus at Bandarmude of Chitwan on June 6, 2005. Dahal forged the agreement so as to please voters as Madi fell in his Chitwan-3 electoral constituency. He had agreed to provide jobs for family members who depended on the victims, free school education for children of the deceased, and medical expenses for the injured. He also pledged to build a park on 10 bigha land in memory of the victims, a museum and a zoo for making the area a tourist destination. The agreement said that a three-member committee comprising representatives from the victims, the Maoist party and the Madi Municipality would decide on the modality of reparation. The TRC on December 5 issued a statement expressing serious objections to the agreement, warning the stakeholders concerned not to repeat such acts in future. The commission is said to come out with its official stance on the decision to declare the victims martyrs after getting formal information on the matter. The caretaker government, which continues to make controversial decisions, on Thursday accorded martyr status to 57 people including the 38 Bandarmude victims. The commission has received complaints from the victims of the Madi incident as well for investigating the cases. “The TRC can expedite the investigation process if all provide constructive support rather than competing in breaching its jurisdiction,” said Gurung. Out of the 60,298 complaints received in total, the TRC has conducted preliminary probe into only 827 cases.