The dispute over the action plan and role of commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation has turned nasty after Commissioner Madhabi Bhatta publicly criticised TRC Chair Surya Kiran Gurung.
After Sunday’s meeting, Bhatta updated her Facebook status saying: “Commission Chair Surya Kiran Gurung said he would not give me any responsibility in the future, to which I responded that the [commission’s] Act has not given such special right to the chairman.”
The commission, which was formed a year ago to investigate into conflict-era cases, has not started its works formally due to the lack of legal framework as well as local structures. The commission faces a dearth of funds, employees and local structures to start taking complaints from the victims, let alone carry out investigation.
“I requested her to maintain confidentiality of the commission,” Gurung told the Post. “What we need to know is that we are dealing with sensitive issues of long-term consequences.”
According to him, the commission wanted to maintain consistency in information and messages it publicised. “We had a report in a newspaper regarding a conflict of interests due to political affiliation of the commissioners, which is not true,” he said.
The commission decided to postpone district visits to start work on setting up mechanism in the districts to take complaints from victims as the government endorsed its regulations. The news said that the commissioners wanted to postpone visits to protect the interests of their own party, quoting Bhatta.
“Gurung removed me from the post of spokesperson and now threatens to keep me without any responsibility,” said Bhatta. “I wonder where he got the courage to say that to me.”
She argued that the commission meeting was held for one agenda but took a different decision. She said the meeting was to discuss on setting up local mechanism but the commission raised the issue of leaking news to media but without naming the person.
“I demand Gurung give me grounds on which he took the decision,” she said. “It is also a matter of making the activities of the commission transparent.”
Gurung refuted her claims of removal. “We have made a temporary arrangement for talking to media only after the issue is discussed at the commission or media can contact me directly if need be.”
Bhatta said that she felt security threat from Gurung after Sunday’s meeting. “I have informed the administration for my security but it also ignored my request, which is even more reason to be suspicious,” she said.
The dispute has surfaced at a time when the commission has got its regulation to begin its task formally.