The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set to visit Bandarmudhe of Chitwan district before calling for complaints from conflict victims.
In 2005, a bomb planted by then rebel CPN-Maoist had ripped apart a bus full of civilians and 12 Army personnel in the Bandarmudhe river. Thirty-nine people died on the spot while 72 injured were rendered physically disabled.
“If we had had our regulations in hand, we probably would have started taking complaints from Bandarmudhe,” said Surya Kiran Gurung, chairperson of the commission. “Since we don’t have the regulations yet, we won’t be able to make any announcement there.”
Although the government had endorsed the regulations of the commission two weeks ago, it is yet to be published in the Nepal Gazette for it to come into effect.
According to him, all the five commissioners are set to visit the place to give a message that the commission has taken the incident seriously. Earlier, some media reported cancellation of the trip due to internal differences on the matter.
Gurung refuted the charges. “We never had differences,” he said. “We wanted to plan it better, which was reported otherwise.”
Bandarmudhe carnage is one of the cruellest attacks on unarmed civilians carried out by the then rebels, while the then Royal Nepal Army massacred people in Doramba, Ramechhap and Kotwada, Kalikot. At least 19 villagers of Doramba were murdered after their capture in 2003 while 35 workers at the construction site of Kotwada Airport were killed by the security forces in 2002 suspecting them to be Maoist rebels.
The commission will be meeting the Bandarmudhe victims on March 12. The TRC has already visited 53 districts and interacted with victims and civil society members.
Meanwhile, the commission has entrusted its members with the responsibility to consult with members of victims’ community, media persons, activists and representatives of rights organisations to decide on the local mechanism to register complaints from victims.
Although the commission has decided to collect complaints through the Local Peace Committees, it has decided to set up an oversight mechanism to avoid possible interference from the power centres. The oversight body will be involved since registering complaints till the completion of investigation.
Commission member Lila Udasi has been given the responsibility to formulate policy and terms of reference for the mechanism while Manchala Kumari Jha has been tasked with discussing with the victims’ community. Shree Krishna Subedi is responsible for collating opinion from rights organisations and Madhabi Bhatta will be consulting with the media.