KATHMANDU, Sept 24: Dhanmaya Vishwakarma, 60, of Pathibhara Tol, Sattale, Kapan, Kathmandu, was crying inside her house. She was asking her husband, Mangale, to find their grandson and bring him back. “If he is not alive, I want to see his corpse for the last time,” she said.
Hearing the plea of Dhanmaya, her two daughters cried looking at the photo of their 10-year-old nephew on their mobile phones. Unable to cope with the situation, Mangale gets up from the bed, leaves the house and zones out looking at the Bagmati River.
Dhanmaya and Mangale ’s 10-year-old grandson Ujjwal has gone missing after falling into a drain pipe near the vegetable market along the border of Budhanilkantha Municipality-10 and Kathmandu Metropolis-6 on Tuesday. Mangale, Dhanmaya, and their two daughters, Anita and Sunita had been taking care of Ujjwal since their son and daughter-in-law went on their ways nine years ago. “He was our only support after we retired. But now he has gone far away and does not seem to return,” said Dhanmaya emotionally, “Who will take the responsibility for this?”
Shambhu Thapa, who is operating a retail shop at Milan Chowk in Kapan, Budhanilkantha Municipality-12, said that the boy had been rejoicing in the rain when he fell into an uncovered drain and disappeared. “We were calling out to save him. But he disappeared in a blink of an eye,” he said.
He had called the police control number 100 at around 8.30AM and informed them about the incident. Police and locals searched till 11PM but could not find Ujjwal. “It has been four years since the road in the Kapan area remains damaged,” Thapa said. “A few months ago, the work of covering the drain with concrete was ongoing. However, they stopped the work due to the rain.”
“Though we had informed the local government from time to time, they did not seem to care. Thus, we covered it with bamboo,” he added.
“A 13-member police team from the Metropolitan Police Division Kapan and Samakhusi-based disaster management team have been searching for the boy since Wednesday but without any success so far,,” said SP Ramesh Basnet, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police.
Due to the heavy rain, Mangale took shelter on the road while Ujjwal walked home rejoicing in the rain. When Mangale came home, Ujjwal had not reached home. Mangale fell asleep thinking that he had gone to the neighbor’s house. However, when Ujjwal did not come home till Wednesday morning, he panicked.
After Ujjwal was not found, his aunt Anita lodged a complaint at the police station. Mangale's family was shocked to find out that a child had gone missing after falling into a drain the night before Wednesday. According to eyewitnesses, Ujjwal is the boy who has gone missing after falling into the drain.
Shambhu Prasad Bhattarai, ward chairperson of Budhanilkantha Municipality-12, said that the Department of Irrigation had been working on the management of the drain. “The irrigation department has not been able to complete the work despite the budget allocated last year. Also, the department refuses to coordinate with the municipality. They seem to work only after a terrible accident,” Bhattarai said.
According to Nepal Police, 48 people have fallen into drains and got trapped in the Kathmandu Valley in the last five years due to lack of caution while carrying out road development works. Of them, 14 have died.