Ganga Maya Adhikari, who has staged hunger strikes on several occasions demanding action against her son’s murderers, has resumed her fast-unto-death strike from Monday.
Ganga Maya was shifted to the isolation ward of the Trauma Center in April from her earlier spot of hunger strike – Bir Hospital — after a citizens’ appeal following the government decision to designate the Hospital’s main building as a dedicated COVID-19 health facility.
Ganga Maya and her late husband Nanda Prasad Adhikari, residents of Gorkha district, started a hunger strike as part of their Satyagraha since January 2013, demanding justice for the murder of their youngest son 16-year-old Krishna Prasad Adhikari during the Maoist insurgency.
Krishna Prasad was killed by the then Maoist rebels in Chitwan in June, 2004.
The couple demanded that no amnesty be given to those involved in the murder and that the guilty be brought to book.
However, on 22 September 2014, the 334th day of the couple’s hunger strike, Nanda Prasad died.
Though Ganga Maya continued her Satyagraha even after her husband’s death, the hunger strike was postponed on the 359th day when the government promised to fulfill its commitment to address Ganga Maya’s demand for justice and pledged to look after her throughout her life.
Six years since the government’s pledge to justice, the promise has yet to materialise and Ganga Maya has staged fast-unto-death on several occasions at the Bir Hospital premises.
Ganga Maya and her husband had initially reached out to every state body and requested for legal action against those involved in their son’s murder. However, after no hearing was held, they came to Kathmandu from Gorkha and started a hunger strike in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, Baluwatar.
The government had taken the couple to Bir Hospital after their condition deteriorated due to the prolonged Satyagraha.
Nanda Prasad’s body is still in the mortuary of the TU Teaching Hospital as Ganga Maya has refused to receive the body until justice is served.
After the death of her husband, Ganga Maya’s condition deteriorated and the government had arrested the main accused Chhabilal Poudel and filed a case against him. However, the Chitwan District Court acquitted everyone accused in the case except for absconding accused Rudra Acharya in 2018, August-September.
Ganga Maya has filed an appeal in the Hetauda High Court against the District Court’s decision, and hearing on the case is pending.
The government, in coordination with human rights activists, has been urging Ganga Maya not to resume her hunger strike citing concerns for her critical health condition.
On October 15, 2020, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) published 20 years of data, naming 286 people, mostly police officials, military personnel, and former Maoist insurgents, as suspects in serious crimes.
In particular, the information relates to cases where its investigators concluded there is evidence warranting investigation and prosecution for abuses including torture, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial killing.
The report highlighted just how little progress there has been to establish meaningful human rights protections to address conflict era violations and ongoing abuses. The culture of impunity in Nepal is contributing to ongoing serious human rights abuses, the report said.
Serious violations and abuses were committed between 1996 and 2006 during an armed conflict between government security forces and Maoist rebel forces. The former Maoist party in now part of the government.
Since the conflict ended, the former enemies have effectively joined ranks to successfully shield their supporters from accountability, fostering a culture of impunity that continues to protect those responsible for ongoing extrajudicial killings and deaths in custody allegedly resulting from torture.
NHRC said in its report that the government had mostly failed to act against suspects, despite being informed of the commission’s findings. Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have not independently investigated all the cases documented, but the Nepal government is under an obligation to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations in the report with a view to bringing those responsible for these crimes to justice.
Altogether NHRC has recommended action against 98 police officers, 85 soldiers, and 65 members of the former Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
NHRC presented and analyzed its findings and recommendations spanning two decades, since its establishment in 2000. It has registered 12,825 complaints and reached conclusions in 6,617 cases, making 1,195 recommendations to the government.
The recommendations have been carried out fully in only 13 percent of cases, partially carried out in 37 percent, and not carried out at all in the remaining 50 percent.
The government has often carried out recommendations to make payments to victims or their families but has very rarely investigated or prosecuted abuses.
NHRC has long been dogged by political interference in the appointment of commissioners, and a widely perceived reluctance to confront the government or other powerful institutions, such as the army and political parties, that oppose accountability for rights abuses.
In 2019 the government proposed amendments to the 2012 National Human Rights Commission Act that would further undermine its independence.