Tragedy in Rukum is our national shame

Published On: May 27, 2020 02:48 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Those involved in the murder of Nabaraj must be punished so that it becomes a turning point in the way our nation treats its most vulnerable.  

Nabaraj BK, 20, was in love. If some of the screenshots of his messages to his sweetheart are in fact his, they were madly in love with each other. Both Nabaraj and Sushma Malla wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Caste boundaries did not deter the couple from seeking to be happy, accepting each other. Never did Nabaraj, his family or Sushma imagine that the story would end up in a breathtaking tragedy. Nabaraj and his friends were brutally murdered Saturday night. 

Born to a so-called “lower caste” farming family in Rukum’s Chaurjahari-8, Soti, Nabaraj was a really good volleyball player. Sushma was smitten by this young handsome athlete and they quickly fell in love. That the family members of the girl and the locals decided to murder the group of boys that went to bring the girl home, and that no one stepped up to prevent such a tragedy is a national shame. Words fail to describe what Sushma, Nabaraj’s parents and the community is going through right now. 

That a young boy should be killed for his only ‘crime’ to love a girl of “higher caste” spells a long shadow over our struggle to rid off the caste-based discrimination. While our laws of the land forbid such discrimination, things have not moved forward. It almost seems that we tend to take a few steps forward and then harken back to the ages. When will this march to the dark past end? When will our authorities learn to take the crimes of this sort with the seriousness they deserve? 

Involvement of a ward chairman is another troubling part of this tragedy. People elected him to lead the society. They chose him to represent everyone in his community. Who would have thought that he would be the one to lead the murder of a young boy? 

We can only hope that the five-member committee formed to investigate Nabaraj’s murder case does its work with the rigor and honesty. And we can only hope that the findings will not be shelved in corners of our ministries, like many times in the past. The police and the local administration should carry out thorough investigation before filing the cases so that the perpetrators won’t be able to walk free. 

Tragedy in Rukum should be a national reckoning. Countless seminars and conferences in Kathmandu’s expensive hotels won’t end caste-based discrimination. Caste-based discrimination has plauged us for centuries, and it has been detrimental to more than 13 percent of our nation’s dalits. If a video of a white policeman killing a black or a person of color in the United States makes us angry, then the tragedy in Rukum should shake us from deep inside. Nabaraj’s death should not be forgotten. His young life was cut short by the cruelty that has been in our society forever. We must do our part to heal and work in steps to destroy the vestiges of caste-based discrimination. To start with, those involved in the murder of Nabaraj must be punished so that it becomes a turning point in the way our nation treats its most vulnerable.  


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