65-yr-old on hunger strike for 22 days

Kathmandu, January 1:

Min Bahadur KC, a 65-year-old farmer from Kanchanpur district whose land was acquired by the then government, has been staging a hunger strike for the last 22 days at Shanti Batika in Ratna Park but the authorities have not shown any concern to meet his demands.

His eyes are sinking and his voice is getting low. “It does not matter even if I die. I don’t know if the government recognises my existence,” he murmured.

Thirty-five years ago, the government had acquired 155 bighas of land to accommodate retired soldiers, rendering 35 families homeless. They are yet to get compensation. According to KC, the government had assured them the land and due compensation for their property.

He has a stack of letters issued by the Finance and Home ministries and the Kanchanpur District Administration Office. The Deuba government had started the process to compensate the victims five years ago but the unstable government changed.

The file is stuck at the Finance Minister’s table. “Our requests neither could impress the officials nor could we meet the minister,” he lamented. KC is a lone agitator staging the hunger strike. He said other members could not afford to come to Kathmandu.

His son Jit Bahadur KC said his family had migrated to Kathmandu in 1991 so as to free themselves from the bonded life in the district. “The remaining Tharus are still working as Haliya (tillers) as they have no land of their own back in village,” he said. “I have memories of the old days when we used to live on the road,” Jit recalled, “Life did not get better even in Kathmandu.”