Friday, May 3, 2013

'Disappeared' ex-PLA man held in dual benefit case

SOLUKHUMBU, May 3: A man who was ´disappeared´ by the state during the Maoist insurgency has been found to have holed up in a Maoist cantonment for several years.
The police have arrested Sita Ram Rai, 24, a resident of Deusa VDC-5 of Solukhumbu district, as his father had accepted Rs 100,000, which is given by the government to the families of those who went missing during the war, even though Sita Ram was drawing his salary as a former Maoist combatant in a Sindhuli-based cantonment.
Rai, who was registered as Kiran Rai in the list of ex-combatants prepared by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, had recently left the cantonment by taking Rs 500,000 under the voluntary retirement scheme.

After leaving the cantonment, Rai returned to his village in Solukhumbu, shocking all his acquaintances who feared he was dead as his whereabouts were unknown for years. Meanwhile, some people also complained against him for taking dual benefits from the government.

The District Police Office of Solukhumbu arrested Rai on Wednesday, when he came to participate in a training program organized by the Local Peace Committee (LPC) for the war victims.

On Thursday, Rai was released after he agreed to return the money that his father Til Bahadur took on July 13 last year, claiming that his son was detained by the state force in the war.

Til Bahadur had applied for the relief money meant for the families of the disappeared people. His application was approved by an all-party committee led by then Chief District Officer of Solukhumbu, Pradip Raj Kharel.

"It was certainly a moment of joy when he (Rai) returned home," said Rita Basnet, office secretary of the Solukhubu LPC. "But, at the same time, we became sad as he was arrested by the police for misusing state facilities."

Bishwa Prasad Banstola, the chairman of the Solukhumbu LPC, says the local administration is confused over what kind of legal actions can be taken against Rai. "This case is a first of its kind," said he. "So, we don´t know what needs to be done with him. Even our directives prepared by the peace ministry are silent about such cases."
from Republica

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