Save Gangamaya is the story of a Nepalese mother’s struggle to get justice for the murder of her son, and the struggles and triumphs she faces on this difficult journey.
A film by Gopal Shivakoti (Nepal | 2016 | 1 hr 27 mins)
About Gopal Shivakoti
Gopal Shivakoti is a documentary filmmaker from Nepal.
He has been working in films and digital media since 2004. Primarily he is a visual editor who also does 2D animation, motion-graphics, and filming. He has been a key resource-person at “Young-Cuts! the filmmaking workshop” (in Kathmandu) for the past three years. His hobbies include Ethnology and documentary filming.
Currently he is CEO at Shiwakoti Films Pvt. Ltd, and consultant editor at Onion Films Nepal.
He has shot and edited “In Search of the Searchman” – a short documentary about the 8 millions (plus) graffiti “Khoja/Search” that has been written and inscribed all over Nepal; “When Shall I See My Daddy” – a short documentary about a 14-year-old boy whose father went to the United States and hasn’t returned to his home and family.
“Save Gangamaya” is his first feature-length as director.
“Save Gangamaya” is a feature-length documentary film about the justice warrior Gangamaya Adhikari from Nepal – a country referred to locally by conflict victims as an “impunity haven".
It is a tribute to the power of a couple’s persistence in the face of seemingly unrelenting darkness.
My goal in making “Save Gangamaya” is to let viewers feel what it’s like to be a common citizen in a state captured by goons masquerading as politicians and seeking to destroy the very idea of justice.
This documentary film was made without the permission of the Nepali authorities.
The incident and the couple's struggle goes like this:
On June 6, 2004, Krishna Prasad Adhikari, age 17, from Gorkha, went to Chitwan to meet his grandparents and was abducted, thrashed, his bones broken, stuffed in a gunnysack, dragged and brought to a crossroad, where he was killed with three bullets pumped into his head. The body was left there for public viewing.
Krishna's parents who seek justice in this case were displaced from their home in Gorkha. Then, they came to Kathmandu where for nearly five years they visited human rights organizations, INGOs, ministries, politicians, prime ministers, and the president, demanding justice. The Adhikaries were given false promises and ignored. Later they were even denied any access and entry into offices and organizations. Several times police manhandled them, detained, and even admitted to a mental hospital. As more than nine years of efforts brought no result, they took the extreme measure of fasting-unto-death in front of the Prime Minister’s residence. When the couple’s health became critical where they were admitted to Bir Hospital (a government hospital in Kathmandu). On September 7, 2013, after 47 days the couple ended the hunger strike upon reaching a three-point deal with the government. However, when the Adhikari couple realized that the government had simply made the deal to end their indefinite hunger strike, the couple resumed their hunger strike. On September 22, 2014, after 333 days of fasting Nanda Prasad died. On October 19, 2014, after 359 days of hunger striking, the Nepal Government, in the presence of human rights activists made a five point commitment to Gangamaya, and asked her to stop her hunger strike for a few weeks. Gangamaya agreed to live on liquid food.
The government reluctantly took the case up to the Chitwan District Court, and it wrote to Interpol for the repatriation of one of the alleged Maoist sharp shooter said to be in Northern Ireland. However, the investigation has not been conducted with due diligence, with the line of culpability extending from the central secretariat to the district.
When the Maoist cadres implicated in Krishna’s murder were arrested, Maoist leaders, including two former prime ministers—Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai —challenged the government to arrest them first before taking any of their cadres into custody. They obstructed the parliamentary proceedings and hit the streets against the legal action against their cadres. Dahal and Bhattarai also warned that any legal action on this case through the regular court would derail the entire peace process. This warning gives enough reason to speculate that not only Maoist cadres but also their senior leaders might have been involved in this case. Holding people accountable for their roles in committing heinous crimes during the conflict remains a serious challenge in Nepal. The main stakeholders of the conflict — the then political leadership, security officials, and the Maoists — fear that they might be prosecuted for their roles during the conflict. The Maoists believe that conflict-related abuses should be investigated by the recently set-up Truth and Reconciliation Commission and that all major criminal issues should be granted amnesty.
As of now, political leaders, state officials, and army and police chiefs, who were directly involved in human rights abuses during the conflict, are actively leading the transition process. So it is both unfair and unreasonable to expect that they will assist the transitional justice process and ensure that truth prevails.
So, I appeal to the international community for solidarity on a cause that is more important than anything else – accountability on matters of human rights excess. The values in terms of accountability are universal, and a citizen of Nepal has a right to demand attention from the international community the same as a citizen of every other country.
Gangamaya is in critical health; the international community cannot stand as a mute spectator while she engages in the Gandhian act of fasting for the attainment of justice. The demands of human rights accountability can never by compromised due to perceived political considerations, and this is an area where the international community is duty-bound to express itself clearly. If Gangamaya Adhikari is to tragically breathe her last during her campaign for humanity and accountability in Nepal, the responsibility will lie with the office-holders within the Government of Nepal, the political party leadership, as well as each and every individual and institution that looked away when they should have responded to the fasting Gangamaya’s cry for justice.
One can be sure that Nanda Prasad’s satyagraha and passing will be recognized in world history, even if today each of us is so busy trying to find excuses and scapegoats to help explain why a couple would choose voluntary death. But the cause of justice will not be forgotten that easily. We may run, but we cannot hide. Gangamaya, holding the same values and commitments as her husband, today continues her fast. She once told, “Every time I think of my son, it feels like an iron nail to my heart. I think I will see justice delivered from above only when I am gone.”
But let that not happen. Gangamaya must get to see justice on the murder of Krishna Prasad. As it is said, "justice delayed is justice denied."
This film is a call to the entire human rights and international communities to pay adequate attention to this severe case of injustice and to light a beacon of hope for the remaining victims of atrocities.