| June 27, 2019

Original owners reclaim Maoist-seized lands

DHANGADHI/RUKUM, May 23: Almost a decade has passed since the end of the Maoist insurgency but more than half of the households in Kailali and Rukum distircts are yet to get back their lands seized by the Maoists.

According to the Local Peace Committee, half of the 239 families in Kailali district whose lands were seized by the Maoists during the insurgency are yet to get their lands back.
"We have found that over half of the victims are yet to get back their seized lands," said Anu Hamal, secretary of the committee. She said that around 2,000 bigha of lands belonging to 239 families were seized by the Maoist during the insurgency.

She said that the victims have lodged complaints at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to get back their seized lands. They have also asked for compensation for the properties that were looted by the Maoist cadres during the insurgency.

"As many as 144 complaints have been lodged at the commission so far. And majority of the complaints are related to seized lands," said she.

Ganesh Malla, general secretary of a war-affected farmers' group, said that war victims are yet to get back their lands. "Valuable properties like gold jewelries and cash were also looted by the Maoist cadres. But the victims have not received any compensation for that as well," said he.

He said that the 9-point agreement, recently signed by two of the ruling coalition partners, the CPN-UML and the UCPN (Maoist), the party that led the insurgency, has increased doubt if the war victims will get justice. "The 9-point agreement calls for giving impunity to those involved in serious crimes during the insurgency, raising serious doubts about whether the victims will get justice."

In Rukum district, too, many conflict victims are yet to get back their seized lands. In 1997, the then CPN Maoist had seized lands belonging to Gopal Sharma of Kholagauh-4, who is yet to get back his land. He said that the Maoist is yet to return his 3.5 ropanis of lands. "All my cultivable lands were seized by the Maoists. Since then, I have been living in the district headquarters," said Sharma.

Likewise, the Maoist has yet to return 1.5 ropanis of land of Liladhar Khadka of Garayal Phedibazar.

He said that many farming-dependent families whose lands were seized by the Maoists are facing difficulty to eke out a living.