Rupak's death in Russia-Ukraine war leaves family in disbelief

Published On: December 8, 2023 08:15 AM NPT By: Kiran Man Bajracharya

KAPILVASTU, Dec 7: Rupak Karki, 24, of Banganga-1 Mandreli toll of Kapilvastu started the process of going to Russia in Chaitra 2078 BS on a student visa after realizing that he could easily go to Russia.

He was preparing to go to Russia together with his neighbor Yuvraj Paudel. He reached Russia for studies and employment. Karki, the only son of Man Bahadur and Lakshmi, was sent to Russia with a sum of almost Rs 1.2 million.

He reached Russia in Jestha 2079 BS through Dream International Consultancy located in Bagbazar, Kathmandu, immediately after the local elections.

A year later, on June 8, 2023, Rupak participated in Special Military Operations (SMO or SVO) in agreement with the Russian Ministry of Defense. The Russian government and supporters of the war refer to the 2022 attack by Russia on Ukraine as SMO or SVO.

In the press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Monday, Rupak Karki's name is number two in the list of people who died while serving in the Russian army. Rupak Karki died on June 30, 2023, according to the Russian website Book of Memories of Ivanovo Region.

According to the website, he was killed while participating in a special military operation on behalf of the Russian army in the war zone in Ukraine.

Karki’s sister Sarla Thapa, who got married four years ago, had come to her maternal home to celebrate Dashain. Three people from the village came to the house and informed them that her only brother Rupak Karki had died in the Russia-Ukraine war. Two years ago, at the age of 22, her brother had gone to Russia on a student visa.

But she did not believe that he had died. She said, "My brother called me three to four months ago and said that he had to go for training for six months. He may not call until then. He said that he would call me after the training was over. Not even six months have passed since then.”

Ward members Rajkumar Tharu, Lakshmi Khatri and Topkala BC were the ones who took the information of Rupak's death in the fourth week of October. It was the second attempt to convey the news of death to his house.

Ward member Tharu, who is also a neighbor of the Karki family, met Rupak's father Man Bahadur Karki and mother Lakshmi after receiving the news that their son had been killed.

"Even at that time they were not ready to accept that their son had been killed. They seemed sure that their son would call after returning from training," said Tharu. “We had no further information to confirm Rupak's death. That is why it was difficult for them to accept the news of his death.”

Earlier, a person from Kathmandu had called Ward Member Rajkumar Tharu and Ward Chairman Sanjukumar Saru Magar of Banganga-1 that Rupak Karki had died in the Russia-Ukraine War, asking them to convey this information to Rupak's parents. The person also said that he did not know whether the body would come or not.

According to Ward Chairman Magar, the person who had contacted him identified himself as a person from the Russian Embassy. But the app called 'True Caller' suggested that the phone number was found to be of a foreign employment company.

"We kept trying to contact him again. But we couldn't get in touch," said Ward Chairman Magar - the ward member went to Rupak's house with the same unconfirmed news. Based on the phone call from Kathmandu, the unconfirmed news that Rupak had died had spread in the village within a month.

A press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Monday confirmed it. Rupak's name is number two in the press release issued by the ministry saying that six Nepalis in the Russian army had died. The ministry informed that Sandeep Thapaliya of Gorkha, Dewan Rai of Pokhara, Pritam Karki of Putalibazar Municipality-5 of Syangja, Rajkumar Roka of Melung Rural Municipality-6 of Dolakha and Gangaraj Moktan of Ilam Municipality-5 had died along with Rupak while serving in the Russian army. However, the ministry has not said anything about the date and how they died and the condition of their bodies.

According to Cursib.RU, Rupak is buried in Novo-Talitsky, Ivanovo Region. His date of birth is inscribed on the tombstone as July 24, 1999. Nationality is not indicated. Ivanovo serves as the administrative center of Russia.

On the other hand, the family is unwilling to accept Rupak's death without seeing the body. Rupak, who lost his life in the Ukraine war, has been laid to rest in Russia, and this information has been publicized by the local media. This development has added to the confusion for Rupak's grieving family.

The website, Cursib.RU, citing a book of remembrance from the Ivanovo region, reported that Sandeep Thapaliya (a Nepali national) and Peega Vitenawi (nationality not disclosed) were buried alongside Rupak Karki.

In the Ministry of External Affairs' statement on Tuesday, Sandeep Thapaliya's name tops the list of those who have lost their lives. According to the memorial book of the Ivanovo region, Sandeep was also in Ukraine as part of the SMO. The memorial book specifies his nationality as Nepali, noting his birth on January 10, 1993, and his death on June 28, 2023, during a 'combat mission.’

Cursib.RU reports that there are no religious symbols or ancient Christian crosses at the tombs of Rupak and Sandeep. Only their names and dates of birth and death are included. The news mentions, "The defense forces of Russia have placed a wreath at the gravesite."

After the release of the statement by the MoFA, Lumbini Province MP Bishnu Panthi along with local people's representatives and the police reached Rupak Karki's house on Tuesday morning. They met Rupak's father Man Bahadur and informed him that his son's death had been confirmed.

Rupak's uncle Gautam Karki said that although Rupak had died while serving in the Russian army, the government is unable to tell when and how he had died, causing confusion in the family.

"There is uncertainty in the family. The family is not in a position to believe that their only son died without seeing the body," he said. Rupak's father has been rearing chickens while mother Lakshmi works as an office assistant in a local microfinance institution.

Province lawmaker Bishnu Panthi said that the government should take this matter seriously. He said that the family should be given proper compensation and relief.


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