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Martyrdom 101

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
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Today is 16 Magh, Martyrs Day, a government holiday. We have been celebrating this day since the end of the Rana regime in 1951. Dasrath Chand, Shukra Raj Shastri, Dharma Bhakta Mathema, and Gangalal Shrestha were given death sentences this very week 72 years ago. These four are not the only Nepali martyrs. Many new and old have been added to the list. But the exact number of martyrs is hard to determine.
The Home Ministry officially declared 101 Nepalis as martyrs following the 2006/2007 people’s movement. People who were killed by the police, killed by criminal gangs in the Tarai, and even those killed due to personal enmity are all included in the list. Out of the 101 martyrs, 26 were involved in the 20006/2007 movement, 30 in the Madhes uprising, four were ‘religious martyrs’, and one was a journalist. Countless civil servants (employees from local bodies, from the Agriculture Research Council, from the finance field, teachers, even students) also made the Home Ministry’s cut. But how many of the 101 martyrs do you recognise? And why are there so many different categories of martyrs?
Those of you who were getting anxious about how so many people made it to the list in such a short time, hold your breath because these are just statistics from the Home Ministry, there are thousands more. When Pushpa Kamal Dahal was the prime minister, 8,000 Nepalis killed by both sides during the armed conflict were declared martyrs according the recommendations made by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. The families of the ‘martyrs’ received Rs 100,000 each as compensation. When Baburam Bhattarai came to power he gave out an additional Rs 200,000 to families of those who were killed or disappeared.
While the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction’s list includes genuine victims like journalist Dekendra Thapa (who has not been called a martyr by any newspapers in the past two weeks), there are many bizarre cases like that of a nine-year-old boy who was killed when he mistook a bomb for a toy. There is also a mysterious case of Kulman Pariyar and Laxmi Thapa who are said to have been killed on 2 October 2001, but the reason is not disclosed. According to Nepal Saptahik newspaper, Kulman and Laxmi were lovers who committed suicide after rumours of Laxmi’s pregnancy pregnant spread through the village. I don’t know what qualifies these two as martyrs, maybe they should be put under the ‘love martyr’ category. Both Kulman and Laxmi’s family have received compensation from the state.
If we are scrutinise these lists furhter, I am sure hundreds of Kulmans and Laxmis will turn up.

Salokya, Mysansar.com, 29 January
Read the original Nepali version

Today is 16 Magh, Martyrs Day, a government holiday. We have been celebrating this day since the end of the Rana regime in 1951. Dasrath Chand, Shukra Raj Shastri, Dharma Bhakta Mathema, and Gangalal Shrestha were given death sentences this very week 72 years ago. These four are not the only Nepali martyrs. Many new and old have been added to the list. But the exact number is hard to determine.

The Home Ministry officially declared 101 Nepalis as martyrs following the 2006/2007 people’s movement. People who were killed by the police, killed by criminal gangs in the Tarai, and even those killed due to personal enmity are all included in the list. Out of the 101 martyrs, 26 were involved in the 20006/2007 movement, 30 in the Madhes uprising, four were ‘religious martyrs’, and one was a journalist. Countless civil servants (employees from local bodies, from the Agriculture Research Council, from the finance field, teachers, even students) also made the Home Ministry’s cut. But how many of the 101 martyrs do you recognise? And why are there so many different categories of martyrs?

Those of you anxious about how so many people made it to the list in such a short time, hold your breath because these are just statistics from the Home Ministry, there are thousands more. When Pushpa Kamal Dahal was the prime minister, 8,000 Nepalis killed by both sides during the armed conflict were declared martyrs according the recommendations made by the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. The families of the ‘martyrs’ received Rs 100,000 each as compensation. When Baburam Bhattarai came to power he gave out an additional Rs 200,000 to families of those who were killed or disappeared.

While the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction’s list includes genuine victims like journalist Dekendra Thapa (who has not been called a martyr by any newspaper in the past two weeks), there are many bizarre cases like that of a nine-year-old boy who was killed when he mistook a bomb for a toy. There is also the mysterious case of Kulman Pariyar and Laxmi Thapa who the document says were killed on 2 October 2001, but the reason is not disclosed. According to Nepal Saptahik newspaper, Kulman and Laxmi were lovers who committed suicide after rumours of Laxmi’s pregnancy spread through their village. I don’t know what qualifies these two as martyrs, maybe the government should put them under the ‘love martyr’ category. Both Kulman and Laxmi’s families have received compensation from the state.

If we scrutinise these lists further, I am sure hundreds of Kulmans and Laxmis will turn up.

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