Pokhar Raj Kunwar of Guranse in Chhatreshwori Rural Municipality-1, Salyan, lost his father during the Maoist insurgency. A few days ago, Kunwar was tilling his farmland where he found six bullet shells. Finding these bullet shells in his farmland took him back to the Maoist insurgency era.
Kunwar’s father was killed in a crossfire between the then Maoist rebels and the Royal Army soldiers at Guranse on June 11, 2002. “My father was caught in a battle and succumbed to his injuries,” said Kunwar. “We still find bullets and bullet shells while ploughing our farms.”
Victims of the decade-long conflict still live in the shadows of the war. Some of them still have bullets lodged in their bodies, a cruel reminder of what the war did to them.
Kamala Kunwar, a resident of Chhatreshwori-1, said, “I escaped the battle with my three-year-old daughter, but not without getting a shrapnel lodged in my head. Aside from the physical pain from my injuries, I have to deal with the emotional trauma sustained during that time.”
Bullet cartridges found by the villagers while ploughing fields. Post Photo: Biplav maharjan
Guranse was one of the most affected villages during the conflict-era. Eleven people from the village lost their lives and numerous got injured in the war. At least 70 houses were destroyed in fires, leading the affected families to migrate to other parts of the country. “Even today when we hear loud noises, we get frightened; it reminds us of the terrible time we went through,” said Dhaka Devi Yogi, a local from Chhatreshwori-1.
Residents of Guranse still don’t feel at ease working in the farms. “We have started planting crops and vegetables in our farms but we still are afraid of finding explosives while ploughing our fields,” said Lalita Kunwar of Chhatreshwori-1.
Today, the government has declared Guranse as a model settlement and initiated various development works; however, it will take more than that for the people to wholeheartedly move on from the traumas inflicted in the past. They have been demanding the government to provide long-term livelihood programmes, employment, free education for the victims’ children, free health services, and skill and professional training in order to lead a normal life.
More than a decade has passed since the then Maoists rebels and the government signed a peace deal to end the civil war that claimed more than 17,000 lives. Over 1,400 are believed to have disappeared and hundreds of thousands were displaced between 1996 and 2006.