Nepal’s conflict legacy: teens kill over secondhand mobile

December 5th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 5 (IANS) Though the 10-year savage Maoist uprising that killed over 14,000 people and rendered tens of thousands homeless ended in 2006, its fallout is coming to the surface now with appalling changes in the psyche of the young people who find themselves changing inexorably under pressure.On Wednesday, Kathmandu police presented a 17-year-old school student, Rajendra Pandit, in an apparent breakthrough in a twin murder that shocked the nation last month.

Ritesh Rauniyar, 15, and Asish Manandhar, 14, vanished from Kathmandu last month, triggering an outcry. The search for the missing boys ended in a forest on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley after grass cutters discovered their bodies.

Police were on Pandit’s trail after they found he was the last to have called his class mate Ritesh on the latter’s mobile phone. Both Ritesh and Pandit were ninth graders at a local school.

“I had no enmity with Ritesh,” Pandit told shocked media persons after his arrest. “But I decided to kill him because I did not want to pay him the NRS 6,000 I owed him for having bought his old mobile phone.”

The resolve was further strengthened because Ritesh had come to know that Pandit had a country-made firearm in his possession. The arrested teen said he had bought it from Sunsari district in Nepal’s trouble-torn Terai plains for NRS 3,000.

Pandit, his elder brother Birendra and another teen friend lured Ritesh, who was accompanied by his inseparable pal Ashish, to the forest where the assailants first tried to shoot the unsuspecting victims. When Pandit’s gun did not work, the trio attacked the two boys with daggers and clubbed them down with the butt of the gun.

While police are looking for the two accomplices, Pandit said he never thought he would be suspected. He also said he did not have any idea what the penalty for murder is.

Pandit’s confession comes even as Unicef and a Nepali rights organisation Thursday opened an exhibition - Voices and Experience - showcasing artwork by children affected by the decade-old conflict.

The incident also coincides with the visit to Nepal by Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative on children and armed conflict, who is asking the ruling Maoist party of Nepal to release the nearly 3,000 child soldiers who are still languishing in the camps of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army even two years after the former guerrillas signed a peace agreement and returned to mainstream politics.

Besides the children in the Maoist army, hundreds of children are employed by the security forces as well as different armed groups active in the Terai. Even the major political parties deploy children during demonstrations, knowing that they can become dangerous.

One of the poorest countries in the world, Nepal has neither the funds nor the political will to treat its younger generations for the trauma they underwent for 10 years which scarred their minds.

Rights groups have noted how paintings by children increasingly depict gunmen and victims and the children of parents killed during the conflict grow up with a determination to avenge their parents’ death.

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