Nepal quake survivor caught in hill crossfire wants to return
Santosh Rai (23) was fortunate to escape death in the 2015 quake that devastated Nepal. The disaster spared him, but destroyed the hotel where he worked for 25,000 Nepalese currency a month.
He left for Darjeeling, the closest tourists spot, and found a job of an attendant at an eatery for a meagre ~3,000. But the dream of finding a foothold in the hills vanished when he went out on a street speaking to his mother in Nepal over phone on June 8. Policemen chasing GJM supporters caned him without provocation. Scared of repeat in such incidents, Rai is now waiting to catch the first bus to Nepal after the bandh called by GJM is called off.
Anxious to know how her son was, his mother telephoned Rai. Ironically, that conversation marked the end of his decision to stay in Darjeeling.
“Around 11 am, as I was talking over phone, a police personnel suddenly hit me hard with a baton. I was on the street narrating the situation here to my mother,” said Rai. The market is popularly known as meat market, where the hotel he works, is located. “I felt a sharp pain and I started running even while holding the phone to ear. I told my mother about the incident, and she asked me to return home,” Rai added.
For Rai’s family, his return to Nepal is a difficult choice. His father is a carpenter back at Ilam. He has seven siblings. The family is so poor that they used to depend on Rai’s income. “I will have to go back to Kathmundu looking for a job,” said Rai.