A Forgotten Human Rights Defender

July 21, 2016 By: INSEC
It was ten in the evening. Knocks at the door were heard. Chameli got up and opened the door. There were four or five persons standing outside. “Where is Manik Lal ji? – They asked. Chameli told them that he was asleep. “We have to meet him. Wake him up”, they directed. Chameli woke Manik Lal up saying there were some visitors. Manik Lal went out of the house. The group left the place with Manik Lal. Chameli lied down on the bed thinking he would be returning soon. She did not know her wait will never end.
Despite his job as a school teacher, for Manik Lal it was difficult to support his family without working in his field. On that fateful day, too, he was weeding the corn field for the whole day. The group had arrived at his place sometime after he had gone to bed to take rest. Chameli, who had also worked along with husband whole day, fell asleep while waiting for him. Manik Lal did not return even by the morning. At around 11 am, she sensed something was wrong. She went on to call for help to find out him. The neighbours found Manik Lal’s body lying in Ghatte River.
Manik Lal Waiba, 32, of Kaleshwar VDC- 7, Lalitpur is one of the human rights defenders who became victim during the 10 years of conflict.  INSEC document reveals that the Maoists had slit him to death at the bank of Ghatte River near his house after abducting him on 27 October 2002. He was a teacher at Nabodaya Primary School in Kaleshwar, Khatidanda and head of Nawajyoti HRILEC (radio listeners’ club working at grass root level to raise locals’ awarness on human rights related issues) which in turn is affiliated to INSEC.
Manik Lal had gone to Kathmandu on his personal business on 21 October 2002. Next day, security forces shot dead Maoists cadres Raju Nepal, Kul Bahadur Rana, Dal Bahadur Lama and Hrisheshwar Adhikari in Panighat Community forest of Kaleshwar VDC and arrested another cadre Krishna Bahadur Dorje. Manik Lal came back on 25 October. On 26 October, a team of human rights defenders from human rights organisation Manav Adhikar Shanti Samaj led by then head Krishna Pahadi came to the VDC for fact finding mission on the killing of Maoist cadres. Manik took the team to the site of the shoot out.
On November 2002, Maoists took responsibility of Waiba’s murder in a program. The Maoists justified the murder accusing him of spying for the army and police and keeping Army’s pamphlets in the house. Talking recently in public, Maoists’ Lalitpur district secretary Hari Dahal alias Lalit has again taken responsibility of Waiba’s murder. He maintains that Waiba was killed because he was a security informer.
“They took him away from me”, a tearful Chameli says. “How am I going to feed these four children?” She wonders as how she will send them to school when it is difficult for her to find enough food twice a day. There is a small plot of land but no one to plough it for Chameli’s sake.
Her two daughters- Hira and Nira are in grade VI and IV respectively. Sons- Tirtha and Rajkumar are in III and I. She has not received any support from the government. HRILEC Nepal provided the family with Rs 5,000 and school bags, clothes and stationery to the children. That is the only outside relief she has got so far. HRILEC Nepal filed application in National Human Rights Commission on 21 June asking for judicial probe into the killing and compensation to the family. Similarly, HRILEC Nepal, HRILEC Nepal- Lalitpur and INSEC Lalitpur district representative filed a joint application in District Administration Office for investigation of the incident and due compensation to Waiba family. Chief District Officer Anand Raj Pokharel has said that the decision will be made after an all-party meeting.
Other might forget her husband but certainly not the human rights community of Nepal, Chameli once hoped. But, that hope has faded. Waiba guided the way for Pahadi’s team but no one remembered the way to Waiba’s home to guide the family out of its misery.
Lalitpur/ June 2006
Gopi Krishna Bhattarai