Another participant of my study was Radhika Thapa (pseudonym) and she is from Mosel 2 Bhatta Gau of Gorkha district. I got to know her with the help of Ram Shrestha (pseudonym) who is a human rights advocator and working for National Human Rights Commission. As told by Ram, he worked at Gorkha district before one year and he became familiar with Radhika during that period.
From Ram, I came to know that she was a conflict affected child from the CPN (Maoist) side. At that time, she was a school student and ten years armed conflict ruined her schooling so I think she was a suitable participant for my study and I decided to meet her.
I had requested Ram to come to my residency for lunch. And as per my request, he came. While having lunch, I explained to him about my research purpose. After listening about my purpose, he gave me Radhika’s details. And I thought that she would be an important participant for my study while I listened about her. Then I took her contact number from Ram and called her.
Participant’s Curiosity to Meet
Once I shared the purpose of calling her, she was ready to meet me. As per the telephone talk, I went to meet Radhika at her house on the given time and date. When I reached her home, there were four people who were cutting the wood and making some planks. Then I asked them about Radhika and got answer that she was inside home. She was preparing some food while I entered her home. And I told her about myself and she requested me to wait for some minutes. She said that she needed some time.
Scene nearby Participants Residence
I moved outside her home and started to see the technique of cutting the wood. One man was on the top of the ladder and other one was down the ladder. They were cutting the wood in one hundred degree shape. I got the real application of mathematics in this activity and remembered the teaching class of mathematics of my teacher. In the meantime; I saw a damaged shed for buffalos near her home. And I came to know that the workers were cutting wood to rebuild the buffalo shelter. After some times, Radhika came with a mat and put it on the side of the yard. She requested me to sit and carried some food and wished me to take. Then, I had also requested her to eat together. And we started eating and talking at the same time.
Session for Raising Questions
At first, I asked her to tell about her background, their condition and her academic performance during the period of ten years armed conflict. She told me that she was from Mosel ward no. 7, Gorkha district. She had a joint family where 15 family members were living together with grandfather and grandmother. Her father was the eldest son with one brother (her uncle) and six sisters. She added, “My uncle was physically disabled and we needed to take care of him. My father had colossal responsibilities to take care of whole families.” She further added that through her father’s lower positioned government job (Nepali army); they were hardly able to survive. Education was not the first priority in their family.
Arrogance and Revelry Inserted
Father’s involvement was directly seen in her academic performance, she was never counted as an intelligent student in the class. And she got less caring of her teachers and talented friends in her education. It seems that she hardly get support from home and school in education. And she herself never gave more time for study; she spent more time on house work to support her parents. There was no one to help her father except her mother, so she was also helping her mother in different household activities.
She added that before the time of ten years armed conflict, her family was very happy despite being poor. When she was studying in grade 10(2055 B.S. ), she and her family were directly affected by the ten years armed conflict. She tried to remember that day:
“In the early morning at around 5 a.m. on Baisakh 24, 2055, my father left home to go to Pokhara in order to join his duty. I also went along with him to the bus station. While we were walking through Dobhar which is at Tarkerabari Ward No. 7, Gorkha, suddenly a team of people appeared in front of us. They encircled my father and took him to a watercourse near that village. One woman, aged like my mother captured me, and tried to close my eyes and she beat me a lot and I started to cry”. (Field note)
Radhika, with tears rolling down her cheeks said that the people who had done such things were the CPN (Maoist). They have asked her father to leave the job of Nepalese army and join with them but he denied. She said that she was unknown that the CPN (Maoist) group has suggested her father several times to quit the job. She added that her father was one of the patriots of the nation so he was ready to die rather than surrendering.
There are lots of incidents of killing and abusing from the security persons whatsoever they were in off time and even they were at home. In the same way, her father was killed when he was out of duty. She added that she had listened this kind of inhumanity action and the fight between the two parties but she was the real eyewitness of the incident. They had tried to convince her father several times on what would be the benefit when he would leave his job but he spoke against them. She concluded that this might be the main reason why they shot her father.
Her voice was full of fear when she said that the CPN (Maoist) dragged him to the river and the corpse was thrown into the river. She was helpless and could not do anything at that movement. She could not even forgive herself that she was the eye witness of the death of her own father and she could do nothing. In this regards, she added “I am really troubled after my father’s death. I don’t even have any idea what to do or not to do. My heart and mind always think negatively, which makes me weaker and mad”.
Rules and Regulation – No nest or Null and Void
She felt pity on the rules and regulations of the nation. A fighter for the nation has given his life in the name of the nation. She could not control her while saying this. After the death of her father, her family moved everywhere to tell about the death of her father. They asked to punish the criminal at the national and international level. But could not get any support from anywhere. Then, they tried to go to the Supreme Court but it was not accessible by the citizens during the period of conflict. Unfortunately, their case was dismissed without proper investigation. After her father’s death, she faced a very big change in her life. She was the eldest child of her family and she had to handle all the work outside and inside the house, taking care of mother, young brothers and sister, land and household needs. Her two brothers were still young and studying. She added that she got sick and weak because of the tension and responsibility. In this regards, she said:
“Whenever I go to check up my health, the doctor tells me that I have been suffering from chintarog [worries as disease]. I have been taking medicine. My mother has been also suffering from the same disease, the disease created by worry. She used to get fainted and I took her to different places in the course of her treatment. The doctor said that her disease was the source of her worries. Doctor has given me medicine to sleep”. (Field note)
Her grandmother also got sick and could not get good treatment because of the poor economic status. The whole house was still in shock. She was trying herself to take care of the entire family but it was not useful. Everything became dry in her life that year. She remained unanswered when her sister and two small brothers asked about their father. She said, “The two brothers ask about father from time to time. This is the biggest tension to me and my mother. It is very hard for me to bear this.”
This is the never-ending pain for them and their family has undergone mental pain due to this problem and the mental pain has created other physical pains of convictism family in post conflict era of Nepal. The same situation is seen in Radhika’s family. After the death of her father, she was away from the study. She herself became ill. Her mother and grandmother also suffered from illness. At the time of her father’s death, she had passed the sent up examination and was preparing for the SLC examination. She failed in three subjects as she couldn’t focus on her study. She had to read again and appear in the examination but she didn’t get any chance to go to school again and study. She was more focused on the study of her brothers and sisters. She used to go to work with her mother which only will fulfill their daily requirement of basic needs.
Experiences of Toughest Realities
She in an elegiac voice said that, “Sometimes it was very difficult for me and my mother to maintain the daily needs. We used to have fear on the festival that how to provide the small children as per their requirement”. She added that she used to wish that there won’t be any festival so that they could live a normal life. The society also didn’t help them for their livelihood. So they were in a way isolated from the society. It was a long time that they have lost their father but still they are facing the scarcity on his absence. They are deprived of their rights even in post conflict situation whatever the government and political parties committed. The government of Nepal is not able to hear and resolve the needs and expectations of thousands of affected.
The armed conflict has affected children of all ages especially schooling children through their family member’s death. However, it has particularly affected school going children by disrupting their education and interfering with their access to educate. Some children have been removed from school to help at home like Radhika, as older member of the family have been killed in armed conflict. While a lot of them were in orphanages, a much bigger number was forced to work in dangerous conditions at brick kilns, quarries and wool spinning mills (Amnesty International Report, 2005).
In the same way, Radhika have faced several hindrances in education. Her father was in Army force. In the time of armed conflict, her father was threatened to leave the job and joins the CPN (Maoist) party. But he denied doing so. And this denial became the cause of his death. He was killed when he was going to his office after the completion of vacation. After her father’s death, her family was in painful situation. No one was there to help them and Radhika was the one who had to look after them. She had got the opportunity to go to school and study before the death of her father. But after the death of her father, she could not give enough time to education and was not mentally prepared to continue her education. Her time was invested in asking for justice to her family and also in consoling other family members.
Radhika was affected as being the daughter of the state security personnel. When CPN (Maoist) killed her father, she was forced to leave school and imposed to work for family’s survival as a senior family member. It clearly signifies that the involvement of parents in different political ideologies is the driving factor for the children being out of the reach of education. After the death of breadwinner, it had been a heavy burden on families and especially on children, who were school going children. So, it can be said that neither the state nor the CPN (Maoist) party was seen responsible to protect children’s rights. As a result, children were deprived from the rights of education during the ten years armed conflict.
Shree Prasad Devkota is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He is a Kathmandu University graduate, has a Master’s in Mathematics Education and M.phl in Development Studies. Currently he is chairperson of SDEF–Sustainable Development and Empowerment Forum, and has worked as a lecturer. He is researcher in the field development sectors in Nepal and has worked as consultant, monitoring and evaluation expert in different I/NGOs. Devkota has been working in the field of education of children, marginalized and socially excluded groups, especially on conflict management regarding the post-conflict situation in Nepal. He has published several research articles in national and international journals. Books: Teacher’s Lived Experiences and Contextualized Mathematics, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2012. Education in Nepal from Dalit Perspective, LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, 2013. Conflict in School and Its Management by Shree Prasad Devkota and Shiba Bagale, Scholars’ Press, Germany, 2015. Life and Education of Children in Nepal (Pre and Post Peace Agreement a Comparative Study) Adroit Publishers , India,2017.