Scar of War

युद्धको खत

31 May 2010

Authored by Kunda Dixit

  • 1996 Maoists launch an armed struggle
  • 2001 Royal massacre, the Nepalese army enters the war
  • 2005 King stages military power
  • 2006 People Power movement, a ceasefire
  • 2008 Maoists win elections, Nepal becomes a republic
  • 2009  Maoists resign from the government
  • 2010 New constitution due 28 May

Map of South Asia Map of Nepal

The Nepali media for the most part covered the war as a series of battles. We “kept score” and relied on the warring sides to take us to the conflict area. Our focus was on the combatants, and we forgot about the civilian victims.
The Nepali media, for the most part, covered the war as a series of battles. We "kept score" and relied on the warring sides to take us to the conflict area. Our focus was on the combatants, and we forgot about the civilian victims.
a people war cover
It was to make up for the Nepali media's emphasis on “war journalism” that the nepa-laya Publication in January 2006 came up with the idea of commemorating the 10th anniversary of the conflict with a collection of photographs of the conflict to highlight what the war did to the non-combatants, and how violence affected the country’s social fabric. By the time the book came out in January 2007, the war was over.
Soldier Grandmother grieves at Pashupati
These are some of the pages from the book. Even when soldiers were killed, it was their families who were bereaved and lost the person who was taking care of them.

"War correspondents" tend to focus on the physical aftermath of war. It is much more difficult and challenging to assess the psychological impact, especially on children and women.
When the war finally ended in April 2006, it was clear that the country would have to deal with its legacy for a long time. Peace and reconciliation, truth and justice would be a challenge because neither side lost, neither side won.
But the people lost.
Since the book was expensive, nepa-laya decided to take the pictures in a traveling photo exhibition across the country in three phases in 2007-2009. Some 350,000 visitors came to see the photographs, another 150,000 came to watch the screenings of the film Frames of War.
In many places, like this bombed-out hospital in Chautara in which two patients were killed during a night-long battle, the photographs were displayed amidst the ruins.
Tens of thousands of high school and college students came to see the pictures and were deeply moved. Many relived their own war experiences and wrote down their thoughts and testimonies in guest books.
nepa-laya brought out a selection of the comments in this selection of testimonies called, Never Again in 2008.
During the tour, we came across some of the characters in the books. Here, Amrit Gurung presents a copy of the book to Hemanta at the exact spot in Motipur or Kailali where he had taken the picture five years previously.
In Beni, mother and daughter came to see their own photograph when the traveling exhibition reached Myagdi.
When we tracked down Comrade Chunauti to her hometown in Bhojpur, we realised that her real name was Juna Rai and her brother, Bhuban (above, right), had been in the Royal Nepal Army during the war.
The photograph of Juna, her father, Kumar, and her brother, Bhuban, was on the cover of the third book in the trilogy, People After War, published in December 2009.
The photographs and panels from all three books were also kept in the exhibition at the Shanti Sangralaya of the Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya in Patan Dhoka.