Of the 24 policemen killed in a Maoist attack in Silda, West Bengal, on Monday evening (15th), most were Nepali Indians.
This is an irony. The Nepali-speaking people of Darjeeling hills, the Gorkhas of India, who are fighting for the separation of the region from the West Bengal form the majority of those who died in the Maoist attack. They were fighting on behalf of the Bengali government against which their non-police folks are waging a political war. Maoists want to overthrow the Bengali and the Indian government to establish their own proletariat regime.
Here’s a report from Darjeeling: The mood swung between grief and anger as thousands of Gorkha men, women and children lined the streets of Darjeeling in the biting evening cold on Wednesday (yesterday), waiting for the bodies of 13 of the Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans slain in the Silda Naxal attack two days ago. For 24 hours, the state withheld names of those killed, putting thousands of families, whose kin are in EFR, through torment. On Wednesday, families knew who died but no one was telling them when the bodies would come back. Of the 24 EFR jawans killed, most were Nepali-speaking residents of Darjeeling, from where the Frontier Rifles are mostly drawn. At 9pm, the bodies were still an hour’s drive away from Siliguri, which meant it would be midnight by the time they reached Darjeeling. This delay scuppered Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s plan to keep the bodies for public viewing. GJM that has been spearheading the agitation demanding separate Gorkhaland state has called a bandh tomorrow in memory of the dead. But the Bangla Bhasa Bachao Samiti, a Bengali group, has vowed to oppose the bandh.
The Indian Express presents a story of a Nepali Indian who died in the attack:
By Madhuparna Das
Silda : Suraj Bahadur Thapa of the Eastern Frontier Rifles — one of the 24 West Bengal policemen killed by Maoists on Monday evening — had a premonition of death. So in the days, perhaps hours, before the attack on the camp, the lonely policeman started to write to the most important person in his world — his wife.
In the seven-and-a-half-page letter, which remained unfinished and unposted, he told her he loves her.
“Meri pyari pyari Laxmi, meri pyari pyari mithi mithi patni, I love you,” Thapa wrote in a green diary with a rose on its cover. “Main jahaan bhi rahunga tumhe pyar karta rahunga, saaton janam tumhe pyar karta rahunga, mar bhi gaya to bhi tumhe pyar karta rahunga.”
Thapa’s diary was found among the charred remains of the camp this morning. It had a bullet hole through it. Next to it was found a picture of Laxmi and him with their two children, a boy and a girl. On the back of the picture, Thapa had written, “My Wife Laxmi Thapa, My son Rohon Thapa, My dotar (daughter) Isha Thapa”.
“Laxmi, main tumse bahut pyar karta hun,” Thapa wrote. “Tumne mujhe ek beta aur ek beti diya hai. Mere jivan ka sab se sukhad samay tha 15th December 1988, jab tumhari mujhse shadi hui thi.”
A deep sense of foreboding — coincidentally articulated only a few hours before the attack on the EFR camp by Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium who told the Supreme Court in New Delhi that “every officer in the area is marked for death” and policemen “wear a death band on their heads when they go into the forests” — comes through in nearly every line of Thapa’s letter.
“Agar main na rahun… tum beta beti dono ki achchhi tarah parvarish karna,” Thapa wrote to Laxmi. “Mera yahaan har samay jaan ka khatra rahta hai, kab kahin kuchh bhi ho sakta hai… duty pe jaan haath mein leke chalna parta hai…”
At places, Thapa is swept away by emotion for the wife he evidently missed terribly.
“My dear Lux, main tumhare bina ek pal bhi jee nahin sakunga. Tumse mera jo sambandh bhagwan ne jora hai, shayad kuchh soch samajh ke hi jora hai… Sang-sang chalunga ban ke tera sajan, aa teri maang bhar doon o meri dulhan…”
He goes on in Hindi: “I know that I cannot do much for my family, and it is you who has to bear all responsibilities. I always want to see you happy. When I see you happy, I get peace of mind… Laxmi, the love you have given me, I have never got from anyone since I was born. Very few fortunate people get a wife like you.”
Yet, Thapa was aware of his responsibilities as a policeman.
“Abhi desh ka haal-khabar theek nahin hai,” he wrote. “I love you a lot, but I also love my country. The situation in our country is getting worse with every passing day.”
For this situation, Thapa held the politicians of India responsible. “The party-politics of a few people has endangered the existence of the country. We are also suffering…”
Here, the letter ends. (source)
‘It is difficult for Laxmi — they were inseparable’
Salua: Laxmi Thapa has shut herself up ever since the body of her husband Suraj Bahadur, slain by Maoists at the Silda Eastern Frontier Rifles camp, reached home and last rites were performed according to Nepali custom.
When The Indian Express reached her modest home by the railway tracks near Kharagpur, to hand over her husband’s bullet-ridden diary that contained notes he wrote to her while away from home, a group of relatives outside said she was not allowed to meet anyone. She would not speak for the next 13 days, they said, as per Nepali customs.
The diary captures Suraj Bahadur’s love for Laxmi, his son and daughter and also his patriotism.
Laxmi last spoke to her husband over the phone around 4 pm on Monday, about an hour before the Maoist strike on Silda camp, according to Mukti Singh, a neighbour and Laxmi’s closest friend. They spoke for fairly long as telephone was the only link when Suraj was away on duty. Suraj also spoke to their daughter Isha.
Around 7 pm, Laxmi called Suraj again but this time she could not get through despite repeated attempts.
“Laxmi kept on trying him frantically. She came to me and said she is sensing something ominous. It has never happened. I tried to pacify her saying there must be some problem in the network. I asked her to go to sleep, but she was awake and soon EFR men reached her house to tell that Suraj Bahadur was no more,” Mukti said. “She was inconsolable and would not believe. Next morning the coffin came.”
“Suraj and Laxmi were childhood friends who fell in love and got married. It is difficult for Laxmi to absorb the shock. They were literally inseparable,” Mukti said.
Suraj was the sole bread-winner for his wife and children, and also his siblings. After his father Balbahadur Thapa, a retired employee of IIT-Kharagpur, suffered a paralytic stroke, Suraj, a Class X passout, took over the responsibility of his family. This included the education of his two younger brothers and the marriage of four sisters, said Barun Das, an IIT employee and a friend.
“Suraj wanted his children to be well-educated. So despite hardship, he got his son Rohan admitted in DAB Model School. Rohan is now in Class IV and his sister Isha is in nursery,” said Das.
Some distance away, at the EFR residential complex, one comes across similar stories of grieving families. Sona Subba, wife of slain policeman Madhukar Subba, has fainted several times, unable to take the shock.
Son Hariprasad Subba said: “My father was trying to get leave for a few days and come home. But his seniors did not allow him to go. For the past few days, he had been calling us over the phone repeatedly and said he wanted to see us. He was missing us.”
Madhukar’s body arrived home in a coffin on Wednesday (yesterday). (source)