By Vidhyapati Mishra and  Rajendra Pokhrel
PALUNGTAR, Gorkha – At this time, roads in and around Palungtar of Gorkha are so busy. Hotels and lodges are packed and schools remain closed since last Sunday when the sixth extended plenum of the Unified CPN (Maoist) kicked off.

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A mother wants answer from Palungtar… (, 28 Nov 2010)
Around 6000 Maoist leaders and cadres from all over the country have gathered here and hundreds of journalists and television are covering the event. There is a festival-like atmosphere in the area.

While the villagers are happy to see the fanfare and the unexpected development that has taken place in their village because of the Maoist plenum, all this has brought no cheers to Ramawati Poudel, a local woman of Palungtar.

Striving to the whereabouts of her son, Sanjaya Poudel, Ramawati is surviving with a heartrending story. “Nepal Army arrested my son in 2001 from Dhakaltar of Tanahun district since he was an active Maoist cadre. Since then I am unknown about his whereabouts,” she laments.

Not that the Maoists have not raised the issue of the disappeared citizens. But, for a mother like Ramawati, mere formality is not going to lessen the long suffering.

When thousands of Maoist cadres are participating in the plenum to formulate the party’s programmes and policies in her village, Ramawati is left with no option than to continue her tale of woe with all those who visit her tea shop. “In the last ten years I have not been able to know if my dearest son is dead or alive,” she says.

According to the statistics, both the Maoists and the government are responsible for 794 cases of disappearances during the decade long armed conflict. Some 22 cases of involuntary disappearances have been reported from Gorkha alone.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the former Maoist rebels and the government in 2005 highlighted the need for a separate commission to address the issue of the disappeared. However, no progress has been made to provide justice to the suffering families.

During the closed session of the sixth extended plenum of the UCPN (Maoist) some representatives raised serious concern over the government decision to provide cash support of Rs 100,000 to family of each disappeared person stating that such a decision, indeed, intensified their suffering.

Ramawati rubs her eyes with her wrinkled hands and speaks sobbingly, “10 years have passed. I am still unable to know if my son is dead or alive.”

She still pins a faint hope that the Maoist leadership will help her find the status of her son before they leave Gorkha upon completing the extended plenum. “I want his dead body if he is no more. Otherwise, they should tell me where my son is,” she shares her agony. As she speaks, tears trickle down her cheeks.

According to Ramawati, colleagues of her son have become senior leaders in the party but, they never visit her home to inquire about her situation. She is disheartened by the indifference shown by the Maoist party and the state in finding the whereabouts of the disappeared.

“The Maoist leaders travel in cars and hold high posts because of the sacrifice of thousands of people like Sanjaya,” says she.

It is not that she didn’t meet top Maoist leaders requesting them to help find out the whereabouts of her son.

She adds, “I personally met Dr. Baburam Bhattarai with a request when he was here in the village asking for vote in the Constituent Assembly election.” Now she is almost convinced that nobody cares about her plight and the status of her son.

She tried to meet Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal to share her plight was not able to.

The Maoist leaders will start leaving from here completing the ongoing extended plenum from Saturday. Ramawati knows that the crowd will disappear gradually, so will the promises made by the leaders.