War veteran Budha Magar determined to scale Mt Everest

KATHMANDU: Hari Bahadur Budha Magar - a former British Gorkha soldier and war veteran who lost both his legs above knees in an Afghanistan war while representing the British Gurkha Regiment - has been fighting to lift off the ban preventing people with double amputation from scaling mountains.

Budha Magar - born and raised dreaming to climb Mt Dhaulagiri and Mt Sisne that were visible from his home at remote Thawang village in Rolpa district - had lost both his legs while fighting for the UK alongside Prince Harry on April 2010.

The accident placed him in a challenging state for nearly two years after which he slowly garnered courage. He reached high altitude locations and ascended mountains like Surya Kunda-Nepal, Ben Nevis-Scotland, Mt Blance-France, Thorong La Pass-Nepal, and Mera Peak-Nepal with the grade bionic leg attached to his thighs.

After this, he has been preparing to climb Mt Everest for the past 18 months. Budha Magar wanted to scale Mt Everest in spring this year but seems to be in a limbo as the Government of Nepal has banned people with double amputation and complete blindness from attempting to scale mountains.

Mountaineering Expedition Regulation under Financial and Infrastructure Committee under the Council of Ministers on December 28, 2017 have barred thousands of people with disabilities from around the world, including Budha Magar, from climbing mountains.

National Federation of the Disabled - Nepal today organised a programme in Kathmandu, where people with disabilities said that the government's recent ban is a prejudice against them and the decision has fostered a disparity between people with disabilities and the rest of the people.

Speaking at the programme Budha Magar said, "This ban has tried to limit the courage of the disabled people, but one thing is certain that the human audacity is simply unstoppable and the achievements that we have made till now is due to our incessant struggles to thrive in our existence."

"That is why I have named my campaign 'Conquering Dream' emphasising nothing is impossible," Budha Magar added.

Budha Magar has also participated in more than 15 national and international adventure games and events like alpine skiing, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, kayaking, and cycling all around the world.

Budha Magar has demanded that the government should change its decision regarding the ban since it is against the fundamental rights reserved by the constitution of Nepal and against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), 2006.

The expedition which was supposed to take place this spring had allocated $ 350,000 along with 14 Sherpa guides and 4 rescue teams that would support Budha Magar to the peak. The team has however said that they will undertake their expedition in 2019 after the government 'lifts' the current ban.

Speaking at the program, NFDN officials said that 10 to 15 per cent of Nepali population are disabled, and this decision has seriously offended the three to four million people with disabilities living in the country.

Budha Magar and team had held several meetings with government officials to lobby for the immediate revocation of the 'discriminatory' mountaineering rules. "We will continue to fight for our rights," he concluded.