Nepal quake sur­vivor caught in hill cross­fire wants to re­turn

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Pramod Giri letters@hindustantimes.com

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.

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