By Dinesh Wagle on June 8th, 2005 in Wagle Street Journal
No easy breath in Nepal’s famous open air theater: Gauri Kala Upadhaya, 58, from Jumla, West Nepal, lost her belongings in the forceful evacuation. All Pics by Wagle.
Tundikhel is mourning now. This open air space in the heart of Kathmandu is mourning the sudden, forceful and unceremonious departure of its guests: Victims of Maoist atrocities from around Nepal. Organized under the banner of Maoists Victims’ Association of Nepal, some 200 internally displaced citizens from different parts of the country were living on one corner of this giant space declaring it the Refugee Camp and declaring respectable livelihood from the state. Lately, they were staging demonstrations against the government.
Autocrats, armed with guns and bullets, became afraid of these unarmed and unlucky civilians. Police repeatedly and mercilessly repressed those demonstrations with manhandling the ‘refugees’. As if that was not enough, three days ago, on Sunday, June 5, they forcefully evacuated the space flushing out the people from Tundikhel. Police arrested all of them. Autocracy is like this. They had demanded resignation of Dan Bahadur Shahi, the home minister, the previous day. Autocrats sew threat in unarmed and helpless and internally displaced civilians who either lost their loved ones or their property and are in town to get security from the state they once used to pay tax for. They stated a torch light rally on Sunday protesting the evacuation.
A dead dog lies on the place now where internally displaced people used to live till Sunday.
I was curious to see the place so I visited Tundikhel yesterday afternoon. The aura of the place is strange. I first went to Tundikhel when I was, I think, 6 years old with my great-grandfather. That was a place full of shops and housed a big bazaar popularly known as Hong Kong bazaar. [The bazaar was later moved to Bhrikutimandap and has been operating in more organized way.] I still remember grandpa bought me a n’alu ghadi’ or ‘ticktick ghadi’ for Rs 60. Yes, that machine was working well, telling me the exact time, for about a week. While returning to Ramechhap, in that summer season, the plastic cover couldn’t prevent water entering into the watch. The watch, soaked with rain, wouldn’t buzz. No problem, grandpa had really good watch to tell me the time. The warm breeze flowing over Tundikhel in a hot day made me nostalgic. A cricket ball nearly hit me and bring be to the present.
At least 4 teams are busy playing cricket on the ground and 3, I guess, are enjoying football. On the footpath that joints Birhospital area with Old Bus Park area, at around 100 people are busy on playing some sort of games and talking different things.
“Why these all people are here?” I asked a man whom I carefully selected for some strange reasons.
“Well, they don’t have other things to do,” he replied. The after a few seconds of pause and inspecting me from head to toe, he continued, “They are all unemployed folks coming here from different parts of Nepal in search of labor works. This is a bloody rainy day and there is no work to do.”
Unemployed People assemble in Tundikhel to pass time.
After another brief pause and studying his face, I asked: “Where are you from?”
“Are all people here from Dolakha?”
“NO. People from all 75 districts are here,” he said, repeating, “All unemployed.”
Then he told me a story about how his mission to find some work failed because of the rain and some unfavorable condition at the workplace. Two other guys were listening our conversation with an apparent intense interest.
They play different games in Tundikhel.
Saying good bye to him and wishing him good luck for the work, I went to the ‘ground zero’, the place where Maoist’ victims used to live under a ragged tent. There was no sign of life. A dead dog was lying on the place. Football and Cricket ball occasionally passed from the corpse but as I see on three occasions, without disturbing the dog.
As I was taking images, an elderly woman approached me with a piece of paper on her hand.
“I lost everything,” she said, without even knowing me who I was. I guessed she thought I was a journalist.
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I am from Jumla,” she answered and that pulled my attention.
“What are you doing over here?”
“I lost my things. I am here searching them.”
Then Gauri Kala Upadhaya, 58, showed me a page of paper. That was a pension paper. He husband who is no more now was in army. He died many years ago, she told me, in an incident not related to Maoist movement. Now, he case is related to the movement.
“Maoists destroyed my pension papers two months ago,” she said. “They came to my house and destroyed all the papers.”
I saw in the paper that she used to collect pension from Nepalgunj. She had arrived three weeks ago in Kathmandu to make new papers.
“I lost my belongings here when they evacuated this place three days ago.”
She told me that she had things worth Rs. 10 thousands including some medicines and uniforms for her school going children. She also told me that she went to an army barrack to have food and complained them about the loss. “But there is no sign of my belongings being found,” she said.
Some people have moving shops for the benefit of those who visit the bordering Ratna Park.
The war is going on. There is no sign of peace in this war-trodden country. By flushing out Maoist victims from Tundikhel, this government, instead of trying to solve the problem, has put the problem under the carpet. This is even more dangerous. This shows the government isn’t worried about safety of its own citizens. It wants to prolong the war so that the people with autocratic mindset could continue the rule of repression.
1. What Is Their Crime? To Demand a Life?
4 Responses to “Tundikhel Mourns the Forceful Departure of its Guests”
Republic Nepal Says:
June 9th, 2005 at 12:16 am
Isn’t that a shameful incident where a head of government and state draws $ 1 million annually from such people, and enjoys on baton charging on them. What a shame monarch?
Unbiased Nepalese Says:
June 9th, 2005 at 10:02 am
Being a unbiased Nepalese i would like to say that this monarch is a recent change in a Nepalese politics, before it was democrats who were fully into it. What they did?? I would better say all this is the result of those people who were handling democracy, and now they are blaming monarch. This is all dirty politics which is going on in Nepal since i started understanding about this, when they are in power they think of their self interest and when they are thrown away they they take out critics which they created themselves. I think these people who came to tundikhel as a maoist victims are feeling more freedom to express their tragedy before monarch than those democratic politician who never care their feelings. I would like to ask what those politician would have done in this situation, as this was created by themselves. I hope the situation would have been worse than now.
I like to see freedom in my country, but not the freedom that destroy my motherland. Please lets stop commenting and pinpointing eachother and work together to help country restore from this situation. It is fact that disturbance in a relationship is a key advantage for the enemies.
June 9th, 2005 at 12:36 pm
Tundikhel finally takes a sigh of relief from these hooligans who deliberately wanted to snatch away a prime property which belongs to all Nepalese. How can one allow a public space to be used as huts and shags by some people who claim to be Maoist victims? Tomorrow, if I cam my hut inside the Singha Durbar or in the middle of Lazimpat road claiming that I am a Maoist victim, will the authorities allow that?? Some sense of responsibility has to be there. Tundikhel is a place where people go for morning jog, where people sun-bathe, where people loiter because there is hardly any open space in Kathmandu. Now, if even this open space is occupied by inhabitants, where do we go to breathe oxygen?
June 9th, 2005 at 12:39 pm
Look at the photos pasted above. They say a lot. Water melons, playing dice, shopping, that’s what Tundikhel is for. Not for hooligans who want to camp their houses and later claim that the entire property is theirs. This happens plenty in India. Where poor people come in and say that they are the victims of ULFA rebels and then on snatch away a prime locatin in Delhi. This trend has started in Nepal also. It must be stopped.