“They burned my taxi while I was inside”

- Anup Ojha, KATHMANDU
“They burned my taxi while I was inside”

Jul 25, 2015-

Rakesh Tamang, 33, is one of the many victims of Friday’s banda enforced by the Netra Bikram Chand-led CPN Maoist. A taxi driver by profession, Tamang was driving around Nayabazar area looking for passengers on Friday afternoon when a group of men flagged him down. When he pulled over, the men threw a packet containing highly flammable liquid inside the taxi and set it on fire. Tamang was still in the driver’s seat. The flame caught his hair and neck, but he was quick enough to abandon his burning taxi. By the time Tamang pulled himself together, the men who torched his taxi were long gone. Chand’s supporters set fire to a vehicle with its driver still inside and fled the scene in broad daylight. Tamang recounts the incident to Anup Ojha:

“I had heard that there was a banda on Friday. I didn’t know who was behind it and for what purpose this time. Because I saw a few taxis and private vehicles plying the streets, I thought it was alright to take my taxi out. You see, I’m the sole breadwinner of my seven-member family. It’s up to me to look after them, send the children to school and pay the house rent. These days I also have to send some money to my parents and my grandfather who live in Nuwakot. After the earthquake flattened the house, they have been living in a shack with virtually no source of income. Even the business is slow after the earthquake, so for us, taxi drivers, bandas like today’s could be very difficult.

I was hoping to do a few trips and make some money today, but things turned out really bad. I was driving my taxi at Dhara Galli in Nayabazar at around 3 pm when I saw three men signalling me to stop. When I stopped and asked them to get in, they threw a packet containing some liquid inside the taxi and set it on fire. I was fortunate enough to get out before the flame caught my clothes. Bits of my hair and my skin behind my neck had burnt when I got out, but nothing serious. But my taxi was destroyed, the only source of income for me and my family. I taken a loan of Rs 600,000 just to procure the licence plate for the taxi. I don’t even have insurance. Who’s going to compensate me for this loss? What will happen to my wife, my children, and my parents and grandfather in village? Driving is the only thing that I’m good at. After driving for others for nearly 15 years I had finally managed to buy my own taxi. The earthquake took away my house three months ago and today this country’s politics took away my livelihood. Whoever did this to me I want to ask them this— you robbed my life, my children’s future and hopes of my parents for what?”


Published: 25-07-2015 08:31

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