Kathmandu, April 19

Narad Bhardwaj, who was in jail with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in 1970s, is among the 21 persons nominated to serve as Nepal’s ambassadors in several countries.

A Cabinet meeting presided over by PM Oli recommended Bhardwaj to serve as the ambassador to Sri Lanka.

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He, along with PM Oli, then a revolutionary youth leader, was arrested in July 1973 on treason charges for his involvement in Jhapa rebellion of 1971.

The Naxalbari uprising was initiated by a group of revolutionary communist youths by raising arms against the Panchayat system.

Bhardwaj told The Himalayan Times that he, like PM Oli, spent almost 14 years in various jails including at Bhadragaol, Central Jail and Nakhu.

“I remained mostly at Central and Nakhu jails and the Panchayat regime used to change stay of Oli at frequently,” he said. “Over the time, we spent about one year in same jails together.”

According to him, PM Oli was studious and wanted to learn languages, including English. “When we met, we used to talk on several issues, mostly in English,” he recalled.

Along with CP Mainali, he was involved in breaking the jail and fleeing from there. Later, they were rearrested in 1976 and kept in a dark cell in Nakhu.

During that time, the prisoners were not allowed to read or write but Bhardwaj managed to get the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary II from a well wisher and memorised it word-by-word.

“I had nothing to do and to read except that dictionary,” he said. “When I started reading this book, my English vocabulary expanded.”

Later, he completed his intermediate, bachelor’s and master’s level studies while in prison.

He also completed his PhD in ethnic resurgence after being released from jail in July 1987. Oli was released one week before him.

Bhardwaj is four year junior to PM Oli, who is 64.