Loktantra Day: People injured in police brutality decry government’s apathy

- MOHAN BUDHAAIR, DHANGADHI

Apr 24, 2019-

Narayan Dutta Bhatta, in his early forties, had led a massive protest rally that proceeded towards the main market place from Campus Chowk in Dhangadhi during the People’s Movement II in 2006.

The personnel of Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force intervened in the rally and baton-charged the crowd mercilessly. Many protesters managed to flee, though injured, but the security force cornered Bhatta, the then Kailali chief of the Nepali Congress, and thrashed him until he fell unconscious. The police, according to some locals who took part in the protest, left Bhatta on the street thinking that he had died. Miraculously, Bhatta survived.

Bhatta, now 55, suffered a hip bone fracture due to the police brutality, and has since been disabled. The locals took him immediately to Lakhimpur for treatment. He was later admitted to the Kathmandu-based TU Teaching Hospital. He also underwent a surgery at Apollo Hospital in India. After a 22-month long treatment, he returned home.

According to Bhatta, doctors suggested that he opt for a hip bone replacement surgery within a few years of the incident but Bhatta and his family were in no condition to afford the treatment.

“I personally spent more than Rs400,000 besides the compensation provided by the government,” said Bhatta. He still has frequent bouts of unbearable pain and has to be rushed to hospital for treatment. “I go for treatment at my own expense. The government has completely forgotten about us and our hardships,” he shared.

Bhatta is worried, sometimes infuriated, to see that the leaders, who encouraged people to take to the streets against the rule of then-king Gyanendra Shah, living a life of luxury, completely forgetting people like Bhatta and their commitment to the cause of the uprising.

“Back then, people were frustrated and didn’t trust the political parties and the then king. The parties, however, managed to sway the people on their side by promising reforms. They promised freedom from the king’s autocratic rule. They rallied people to fight against injustice and autocracy but they seem to have forgotten all about this now,” said Bhatta, who is mostly confined to his home at Uttarbehadi of Dhangadhi. He said that the government and the parties have failed to protect those who took part in the movement.

“People like me are frustrated at what is happening to us. There is growing anarchy in politics as opposed to what was promised by the political leadership back then. I feel terrible sadness when I see the injured of the popular movement begging for alms at Singha Durbar. Sometimes I spend sleepless nights thinking about how futile our fight and our sacrifice were,” said Bhatta. All the leaders taking part in the movement are active in politics except the late Girija Prasad Koirala and Sushil Koirala, said Bhatta, adding that they too had not done much for the injured and the families of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of democracy. “The honest leaders and cadres who actively took part in the mass movement have been sidelined even within the party. The injured are deprived of even a basic dignity of life,” he said with a sigh.

Like Bhatta, the injured people of the historic mass movement that established Loktantra in the country complained that the state is completely indifferent about the plight of the victims. More than 20 lives were lost and thousands injured during the April uprising. April 24 is marked as the 13th Loktantra Day.

Published: 24-04-2019 10:02

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