April-early July 1997


CPN-UML Sweeps Local Election.

The Communist Party-United Marxist Leninists (CPN-UML) scored an overwhelming victory in the local elections that were held in two phases in May. The party won around 60% of the contested seats in villages, town and municipal governments throughout Nepal. They elected mayors in Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur and 13 other cities, as well as some 40,000 chairmen and lesser officials in smaller community governments. The Nepali Congress (NC) party trailed with less than half that number of elected officers. Its leaders immediately cried foul, claiming election irregularities that included voter intimidation, ballot rigging, booth capturing, and such acts of terrorism as murder and arson. They accused the UML of collusion with the Maoists who, before the election, had used violence in some areas to prevent possible NC candidates from running and constituents from voting. A fact-finding committee was appointed to look into the matter (see below). (Rising Nepal, Kathmandu Post, and other media, May 15 ff)

Maoists Try to Block Elections.

In the wake of local elections, Maoists held a lightly-attended torch rally in Kathmandu to celebrate what they claimed was the success of their policy of boycotting local polls in a number of hill districts. Others might question whether it was all that successful. Their violent efforts to stop the voting did prevent some people from voting and some candidates from running. Yet in spite of a campaign that included murder, arson, and general terrorism, more than 50% of voters showed up to vote in such targeted districts as Rolpa and Rukum, where the Maoists have been most active. The government's special security measures may have helped encourage voters to show up at the polls. Large numbers of armed security personnel were visible in these areas, with a helicopter flying overhead. In the days before the elections, the terrorists had killed and injured a number of people. Several NC officials were murdered in western Nepal. Two RPP partisans were shot as they tried to escape a house that had been torched by Maoists, and 13 others were injured in the incident. Bombs were thrown in Nepalgunj and two policemen killed in ambush in Rukum district. All of this was intended to stop an election that a top Maoist leader worried would "provide legitimacy to feudal forces." He did not explain his own group's definition of the word "legitimacy." (Kathmandu Post, Rising Nepal, May 12 ff)


Flood Danger Threatens in High Valley


The lives of more than 7,000 people who live downstream from Tso-Rolpa, Nepal's largest glacial lake, in Rolwaling Valley in the mountains of northeastern Nepal, will be directly affected when, as predicted, the moraine dam that holds the lake disintegrates some time in the next five years. It will release a torrent of some 40,000 cubic feet of water and send a flood down a network of valleys that is sure to destroy lives, villages, fields, bridges, and livestock. The lake has grown fivefold since 1996 and, in the opinion of the scientists who have been studying it, is likely to overflow its banks within the next few years. "Appropriate response strategies should be initiated within the next four weeks," counseled John M. Reynolds, whose company, Reynolds Geo-Sciences Ltd., has recently completed a study. At stake, besides the hydroelectric plant, airstrip and 18 villages immediately below the lake, are settlements all down the Tamba Kosi and Sun Kosi rivers. Tso-Rolpa is one of at least 60 glacial lakes that can overflow and cause large-scale destruction. (Kathmandu Post, May 8, Jun 7; Rising Nepal, Jun 18)

Violence in Nepalgunj Brings Curfew.

Acts of arson and vandalism forced authorities to impose a curfew in late May on the west central border city of Nepalgunj. The violence started when an ultra-right group, Shiva Sena Nepal, clashed with partisans of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninists (CPN-UML). A Nepali and an Indian national were killed in the fray and dozens were injured. When gangs of "hooligans" then started lighting fires, the army was called in to replace the police. During the curfew, schools remained closed, flights were cancelled, and the streets were largely deserted. More than 60 people were arrested. After five days and a joint appeal by the three major political parties, things seem to have calmed down. (Rising Nepal, Kathmandu Post, May 21-26)

Gift of Rhinos Protested.

Two of the passengers on a Lufthansa flight taking off from Tribhuvan International Airport in late April were somewhat out of the ordinary. They were rhinoceroses, and they were on their way to the London Zoo. The big animals were a gift of the Nepalese government, which has tended to be very generous with the country's rhinos; it has already given away 25 of them. Environmentalists, who worry about the depletion of Nepal's wildlife and suspect that there may be money being passed under the table in such transactions, are upset. A number of them gathered outside the offices of Lufthansa and the British Embassy to make their feelings known. They failed to keep the rhinos in the country, but called public attention to the problem. "We will not allow such consignments next time without developing a proper mechanism," promised the Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation. (Spotlight, June 2 and 9)


UN Population Report Depressing.

The United Nations Population Fund's "State of World Population" report for 1997 is out. It does not paint an encouraging picture for Nepal. Among its findings: Nepal, with an average of 4.6 children per woman of child-bearing age, has one of the highest fertility rates in the world; 1,500 out of every 100,000 Nepalese women die during delivery; infant mortality rate is 82; only 8 percent of all births are attended by trained health personnel; although 98 percent of Nepalese men and women have knowledge of contraceptive use, only 26 percent of married couples make use of it. Most depressing of all is the Report's estimate that 300,000 Nepalese women have been sent or sold to brothels in India. (Spotlight, June 6)

Nepal's Poverty.

More than 100 million rupees (US $56 million) are allocated by the government to the running of the cabinet, yet only 10 million rupees (US $5.6 million) go to poverty alleviation programs. This is not because poverty is a minor problem. The government itself estimates that 49% of the country's people are below the poverty level, and unofficially, the estimate is much higher. According to something called the Capability Poverty Measure (CPM), 77% of Nepalis lack adequate health care and proper nourishment. Perhaps one reason that political leaders do not seem to notice the problem is that poverty is not shared by everyone. According to a Nepal Living Standard Survey (NLSS), the top 20% of the population accounts for nearly 90% of total consumption; the bottom 20% consumes so little that its consumption does not register as a statistic. There may be as many as 2,000 people in Kathmandu Valley who live mainly on what other people throw away. "We do not like to live in such a hell," says one beggar, "but there is no other option than to search for rotten food." (Spotlight, May 2, "A Container Culture")


A Lot of Overtime

In the Diplomatic Immunity/Parking Ticket War in New York City, Nepalese diplomats stationed at the UN have achieved some sort of distinction. They have amassed 502 parking tickets in one year for which they refuse to pay under the protection of diplomatic immunity. Their record is even more remarkable in that all the tickets have gone to only two vehicles. (Kathmandu Post, May 20)

A Happy Ending to the Jay Khadka Story

You have heard earlier about Jay Khadka (his original Nepalese name was Jayarman). He is the boy who had been adopted by a British millionaire in fulfillment of a promise to Jay's father (who had saved the Englishman's life), but who was being forced to leave Britain because of what authorities, including Prime Minister John Major, considered passport irregularities. Britain's new Labor government has taken a different view. Khadka will be allowed to stay in the country after all, and in time will inherit his adoptive father's castle. The father, Richard Morley, had earlier promised to leave the UK with his entire family and fortune if the appeals court decision went against him. Released from what he calls six years of trauma, the former goatherd and kitchen boy (who now speaks English better than Nepali), wants to visit his mother and sister in Nepal and to do what he can to help other Nepali youngsters who are in trouble. (The Independent, May 14, July 2)


Tibetans Claim They are Muzzled.

Tibetans who are allowed refuge in Nepal are not allowed to discuss their problems openly. That, at least, was the complaint of Sonam Lama at a forum organized by Amnesty International in early May. "As long as we are silent, everything is fine," he said, "but if any of us complain, then police arrest us." He cited an instance in March when many Tibetans gathered to discuss their problems. "Fourteen were taken to Hanumandhoka and beaten by policemen who were drunk." He also accused the government of banning shopkeepers from selling T-shirts that bore the words "Free Tibet," and the press, which gives large coverage to the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, from suppressing news about the problems of Tibetan refugees. (Kathmandu Post, May 10)

Tibetans Struggle to Reach Asylum.

China's latest crackdown on dissent in Tibet has led to increasing numbers of Tibetans fleeing their country into Nepal. In mid-January, a group of 27 refugees crawled on their hands and knees to freedom over a 17,000-foot pass in a blizzard. Three of them - a 21-year-old nun, a 14-year-old boy, and an 8-year-old girl - died. Others suffered frostbite, some requiring amputation. Four of the more seriously damaged were boys between the ages of 14 and 22, who, besides their physical infliction's, suffered from severe post-traumatic stress after "crawling for their lives while their friends dropped behind them one by one." After care at the Tibetan Reception Center in Kathmandu, which receives funding from the American Himalayan Foundation, and some amputative surgery, they are now reported to have made "a remarkable mental as well as physical recovery." (Dr. David R. Shlim in American Himalayan Foundation Newsletter, Summer 1997)


Police Confront Soldiers as Warehouse Burns.

Tension between police and the armed forces boiled to the surface when police responded to a call that a Kathmandu warehouse was burning down. At the same time, some army officers who had seen the flames tried to help out by throwing things out of the burning building to save them from the fire. One police inspector pointed out that because they were not in uniform, they were setting a bad example for possible looters. When another inspector directly accused them of being thieves, a fight broke out. One policeman took out a revolver and threatened to shoot the soldiers, "which sent them into a frenzy and started to beat everyone around." Although senior police officials ignored requests to use force to control the army, senior army officers sent orders for their men to return to barracks. Shopkeepers complained that some of their goods had been damaged in the fray and others stolen. (Kathmandu Post, May 16)

Gas Shortage in Pokhara.

There has been a gas shortage in Pokhara for one or two months. The normal suppliers of cooking gas complain that "the gas companies based outside have not sent any gas at all." Local people have turned to other sources of energy, such as wood or kerosene, as a black market in gas cylinders has flourished. "Foreign guests have started to be angry with us," says the owner of a lakeside hotel, "because we cannot serve the dish ordered by them within the short time in the absence of cooking gas. Now when we have to cook everything on firewood and kerosene stove, we cannot prepare the dishes ordered by the guests in a very quick time. Moreover, the utensils are also very dirty." (Kathmandu Post, June 8)


AIDS Kills 72.

Seventy-two people in Nepal have died of AIDS and 647 more are identified as HIV-positive, according to a report of the National AIDS and Sexual Disease Control Center. Most of the victims are involved in the "flesh trade"; 234 of the 283 women with the HIV virus are prostitutes. The 36 housewives with the disease were infected by their husbands, says the report. Twelve people (eleven men and one woman) contracted the virus through drug use. Most of the victims are young people: 383 are in their 20s, 120 are aged from 14 to 19. (Sunday Despatch, June 22)

Don't Get Sick in Manang.

It would be inaccurate to say that Manang's district hospital has no doctors. Some have been appointed, yet they have spent no more than three days out of the year at this north central facility. The post of Medical Superintendent has been vacant for the past four years. There are X-ray technicians and a lab assistant who are getting paid but they are not able to perform any service because there are no materials for them to do their job. Fortunately for the district, one Assistant Nurse Midwife is on the job to take care of its health needs. (Kathmandu Post, May 16)

Witch Doctor Treatment Results in Death of Patient

Traditional medicine still has its adherents in Nepal, but it doesn't always work. When Saraswati Adhikari of Kathmandu, a 32-year-old mother of two, took sick, her husband called in a mata, or sorceress, who diagnosed the problem as one of evil spirits in the body. She tied the patient to a bed and beat her with a belt to encourage these to leave. When, even after the husband and others had joined in the beating, it became apparent that this was not working, the sorceress tried pouring boiling water on the patient's feet. The spirits still refused to leave. So now the team filled her mouth with hot water, along with a fistful of salt. A neighbor heard screaming and tried to stop the brutal treatment, but was told to mind his own business. He notified the police, who took Saraswati to the hospital, but she died shortly after arriving there. The sorceress, husband and other participants in the exorcism are being held on the suspicion of murder. (The Independent, May 14)

Won't You Step Inside My Medical Hall?

Dr. Baha Narayan Bhari greeted a 22-year-old woman who reported to the district hospital in Bardiya with a stomach ailment, and asked her to come inside the medical hall for examination. There he raped her. Police are now looking for the doctor, who has disappeared. (Kathmandu Post, June 15)


"Alarming" Increase of Pollution Quantified.

People who live, work, or play in Kathmandu probably don't need to be told that their city is becoming more and more polluted every day. However, an organization called Nepal Environmental and Scientific Services (NESS) has recently conducted tests and can provide figures that document the worsening of the environment and give meaning to their assertion that air pollution "is reaching an alarming stage." In a sampling taken at Bhotahity, 100 meters (328 feet) from a main road, they discovered that the dust level was two-and-a-half times higher than that set by the World Health Organization (WHO) as acceptable. More than 30% of the particles that the people of Bhotahity inhale are smaller than 3.3 micrograms, which means that they go directly into the lungs; 26% are arrested in the respiratory tract. It goes without saying that this presents a serious health problem. In other parts of the city, statistics show that in residential areas, vehicle emissions are from 15% to 35% higher than what WHO considers acceptable, and in areas with heavy traffic, 28% to 75% higher. As far as noise is concerned, measurements taken in several parts of the city reveal that day-time maximum noise levels in all monitoring stations except Singha Durbar (where the noise level is 89 decibels) exceed 90 decibels, a degree of sound that can cause hearing loss and other ailments. NESS reminds the government that there are steps it can take to reduce these problems, such as controlling the haphazard disposal of waste, maintaining roads to reduce dust, restricting the volume and use of honking horns, and keeping old and heavy vehicles out of municipal areas. (Sunday Despatch, June 8)

Not Necessarily the Last Roundup

The most privileged citizens of Kathmandu are cows. Because they are considered sacred in the Hindu religion, they can go anywhere they want whenever they want, and are often found resting peacefully in the middle of busy intersections while vehicular traffic tries to work its way gingerly around them. Their numbers have recently increased and police have taken action. A number of "loose" cattle have been rounded up and transported to less crowded circumstances outside Kathmandu Valley. (Kathmandu Post, June 4)


Takes Matters Into his Own Hands.

Mahendra Giri of the Terai village of Bishrampur wanted to marry 17-year-old Urmila Giri (no relative). Her parents, who had already arranged a marriage, said no. So Mahendra got a bunch of his friends together and marched to Urmila's uncle's house where she was then staying. They set fire to the house, beat Urmila's mother and aunt, and shot at and wounded her uncle. Mahendra bound and gagged the girl and took her to his own house where, with the help of his mother and sister, he put vermilion on her forehead, the mark of marriage. He then hid her, still bound hand and foot, in a friend's hose. Someone told the police, who rescued Urmila and arrested most of the culprits. Mahendra and his mother escaped "when they got the wind that the police were coming to arrest them." (Kathmandu Post, June 12)

Marriage Ends After Five Days.

It was not until after their wedding day that the groom, Kapil Adhikari of Ratnagar in the Terai district of Chitwan, revealed that he would not be able to consummate the marriage. During an operation to remove kidney stones, the doctors had mistakenly cut a vein connected to the sexual organ, he told his bride, rendering him "sexually incapable." She did not choose to wait while he tested what he said was the doctors' assertion that the severed vein could be reconnected. Five days after the wedding, she went to the district court to seek a divorce. The judge nullified the marriage the next day. (Kathmandu Post, May 22)

Another Brief Marriage.

There was an ugly surprise for another new bride - this one in a village in the far western district of Kanchanpur. That was when she learned on her wedding night that her husband had been a eunuch since birth. His parents, who had concealed this fact, had forced the boy to marry. She declined their offer of land if she would stay with him and escaped to her parents' home, where she is suing the boy's family. (Rising Nepal, June 18)

Motorcycle Escape from Marriage Foiled.

Bishnu Maya left her husband's house in the central district of Syangja, saying she was going to her parents' home. But when the husband noticed that she was leaving on a motorcycle with Hari Ram Koirala, a man he had reason to believe had been meeting secretly with her, he notified the police. They arrested the couple and seized the gold and silver ornaments that Bishnu Maya had stolen from her husband. It was their theory that she had run away because she was dissatisfied with marriage to a man 15 years older than she. "As the husband was willing to take her back, she was handed over to him." (Kathmandu Post, May 23)

Depressed by Life with Youthful Husband.

A 17-year-old girl of going to her parents' home. But when the husband noticed that she Kailali district in the far southwest of Nepal hanged herself was leaving on a motorcycle with Hari Ram Koirala, a man he had from the roof of her house in her despair at being married to a 12-year-old boy. She waited to take her life until her husband had gone to school and his parents had left the house to gather firewood. (Kathmandu Post, May 14)


An Unusual Goat Birth.

A mother goat in the far southeast district of Jhapa has given birth to an offspring with two heads and four eyes. This may not be the only strange thing about the animal. The press account twice refers to it as a "lamb." It is not surprising that "local people gather in large numbers every day to see the miracle of Nature." (Kathmandu Post, May 23)

Largest Monkey Dies.

The world's largest monkey is dead. An resident of Hanumat Palace in the southeastern city of Janakpur, the giant animal stopped eating in early June, and a week or two later died. Hundreds of people who had thought of the beast as a reincarnation of the monkey god Hanuman lined up into the late night to pay their respects. He was 18 years old and weighed 55 kg (121 lbs). (Sunday Despatch, June 22)


Students Demand That Teachers Teach

The students at Bageswori Secondary School in Parashan in far western Nepal want their teachers to teach. Their complaints that the latter have been spending more time in political activities than in teaching have gone unanswered. As a result, they have locked up their school and gone on strike to demand that teachers, like students, be in classrooms from 10 am to 4 pm, that those who are engaged in political activities be removed, and that the school provide drinking water and toilet facilities. (Rising Nepal, May 30)

Monkey Duty Keeps Thami Children Out of School

The Thami people of eastern Nepal have their own language and their own nature-worshipping religion. Although schools are available to them, few attend. Only two children from the 28 Thami families in the village of Khada Devi go to school - and these do not have the permission of their parents to attend. Parents expect their children to stay home and guard the family's meager crops against raiding monkeys. "Monkeys are a permanent source of nuisance in our village," says a villager. "The crop must be guarded right from the sowing to the harvesting season. So when can we send our children to school?" Changing this attitude would be difficult, say village authorities. "How is it possible to do so if they are compelled to carry loads round the year?" (Kathmandu Post, May 29)


Landing Gear Flaw Keeps Passengers Flying in Circles.

The seventeen passengers who boarded Everest Air's Flight E2-328 on June 26 thought they were on their way to Bhadrapur. But after finding that the plane's landing gear had jammed, their pilot flew them back to Kathmandu, where they spent the next four hours flying around in circles to give their plane a chance to burn up its excess fuel before attempting a crash landing. The "sideways of runways" at Tribhuvan International Airport "were crowded with fire-fighting apparatuses along with ambulances and Royal Nepalese Army personnel and policemen," but the plane was eased to the ground without incident. "No passengers were able to express their hours of ordeal as all of them were in a state of shock." (The Independent, July 2)


Three Policemen Die in Bus Accident.

A bus full of policemen on its way to Biratnagar from Nepalgunj overturned on Mahendra highway in the southeastern Terai district of Mahottari. Three of the policemen were killed; 33 others were injured. The bus driver, who has been taken into custody, is reported to have fallen asleep at the wheel at the time of the accident. The policemen were on their way back to their own district after doing special duty in Lumbini district during the election. (Rising Nepal, May 22)

British National Held in Hit-and-Run Accident

A. D. Dunnley, a technical advisor for a "British-aided project," has been arrested after a hit-and-run accident in the Baleju district of Kathmandu. Kha Bahadur Thangdel, 43, died on the spot after being run into by Dunnley's jeep as he was crossing the road. Although Dunnley fled the scene, someone took down his license number. Police notified the British Embassy, which delivered him over to the Traffic Office. He was taken from there to Hanumandoka police office for further action. (Sunday Despatch, June 1)


First Official Tourist Looks Back

Nepal's very first tourist was Maurice Herzog, now 78, who entered the country in 1950 on Tourist Visa No. 1 to make a successful climb of Annapurna (8,091 meters; 26,545 feet), at that time the highest mountain ever climbed. He recalls that then Nepal had less than a fourth of its present population and that the lower slopes of the mountains were covered with trees and forests. "But now it is very sad that the forests are greatly reduced." In Kathmandu to give the keynote address at a two-day International Climbers Meet, he declared that he was "absolutely against commercial expeditions on the mountain because, in exchange for lots of money, the clients are given a guarantee of the summit. In the mountains, no-one can guarantee anything. The clients are being misled." To help combat the problem of accumulating expedition garbage, he suggested that base camp tents be replaced by European-style huts where garbage disposal can be better controlled and supplies be stored for possible emergency use. (Kathmandu Post, May 30)

Bad Weather Slows Record-Seeker

Simple moxie was not enough to get Alan Hinkes, a 42-year-old Englishman, up six 8,000-meter (26,247-foot) peaks in the time he had set for himself to achieve a record for the most eight-thousanders climbed in a year. He has already climbed eight of them and was planning to knock off Lhotse, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga (the world's fourth, fifth, and third highest peaks, respectively) in the climbing season that ran from March 1 to May 31. But the weather was against him. After a successful Lhotse ascent, he was stopped by 100-mile-an-hour winds from climbing the other two. The man who hopes to be the first British national to climb all eight thousanders and first person to climb six of them without oxygen in less than eight months, is not discouraged. After adding Dhaulagiri and Annapurna to his belt during the fall climbing season (and Nanga Parbat this summer), he will attempt the two he missed in the spring. He would still be within his eight-month time limit. But racking up firsts is not the only thing that interests him. If he fails to climb these four peaks, he will be back in the spring because, as he says, he enjoys coming to Nepal. (Kathmandu Post, June 15)


Everest Deaths

Almost exactly a year had passed since eight people died in a storm near the summit of Mt. Everest. Now history seemed to be repeating itself. On May 13, a number of climbers were high on the mountain, struggling, behind schedule, to reach the summit when a sudden and severe storm descended on them. According to first reports, eight people were lost and presumed dead. Later reports brought the body count down to five: three Khazaks, a Sherpa (Ang Nima of Khumjung), and a German mountain guide (Peter Kowalzik). They were climbing from the north (Tibetan) side of the mountain. The three Khazaks and a companion were nearing the summit when the storm struck. Of the two who turned back, only one made it back to camp. Their companions reached the summit at the late hour of 6 pm but were lost on the descent. (Kathmandu Post, May 7, 13, 14)

First on Everest This Season.

The first person to arrive at the summit of Mt Everest in the current season was Appa Sherpa from Thame village in Solukhumbu district. It was his eighth climb of the world's highest mountain. He is a friend, neighbor, and admirer of Ang Rita Sherpa, who has reached the top of Everest ten times, yet he hopes to set a new record of his own. "I want to climb Everest at least five more times and establish a record for Nepal and the Nepalese people," he says. He was accompanied on the April 26 climb by two Indonesian army men (see below), another Sherpa, and three Russian mountain guides. (Kathmandu Post, May 5)

A Mob on the Summit

The official spring climbing season on Mt. Everest ended at midnight on May 31, but ten days before the deadline, there were still six expeditions waiting on the Nepal side of the mountain to get to the summit. They had been held back by what has been described as the worst stretch of bad weather since 1971. Hoping to avoid heavy penalties and legal complications, they had applied for an extension to their permits, but had been told that this would not be granted. However, their luck changed on May 21. More than 20 climbers reached the summit, including the first two Malaysians to climb the world's highest mountain, two Canadians, two Americans, one New Zealander, one Finn, one Mexican, and twelve Sherpa guides. (Kathmandu Post, May 21, 24; Rising Nepal, May 24)

Adventures of the Indonesian Everest Team

His climbing partners assumed Asmujino [no other name given] was dead after they watched him fall some hundred feet out of sight on his descent from a successful Everest climb. Fortunately, his fall was stopped by a rock. After lying unconscious for a while, he came to and looked around, but did not see anybody. "However, I heard my name being called," he reports. "I slowly got up and climbed back to the trail using my ice axe to dig through the snow." His surprised companions accompanied him down to the 8,300-meter (27,230-foot) level, where darkness forced them to make an emergency bivouac. Although they had no food and only enough bottled oxygen to last them for an hour or two, they had a tent and were able to get down to the South Col in the morning. Another member of the team, Misrim [only name given], had "completely blacked out" at the summit. He came to enough to remember his special forces slogan, "it's better to die than become unsuccessful in mission," and got to the summit, where he hugged the tripod and tied an Indonesian flag on it. "After that, I was relieved, felt happy, and cried like a child. I wanted to sing our national anthem also but was afraid that I would lose much energy and might suffer from frostbite." (Kathmandu Post, May 5)

Another Tenzing Descendant on Summit of Everest

Last year, Jamling Norgay, the son of Tenzing Norgay, who, with Edmund Hillary, was one of the first two people to climb Mt. Everest, became the ninth member of the family to get to the top of the world's highest mountain. Now there is a tenth: Tashi Wangchuk, Tenzing's grandson. The 32-year-old resident of Sydney, Australia, paid $65,000 to be guided by Guy Cotter, who inherited Rob Hall's guide service after the latter died with eight others in a storm that hit the summit last May, with four others and their two Sherpas to the summit. "I was covered with tears knowing that I was at the summit where my grandfather had left his prints 44 years back," said the Sherpa, who himself runs a trekking business. (Kathmandu Post, June 1)

Youth Team Members Reach Top.

Politics and mountaineering converged with the organizing of the Youth Expedition Team of the Democratic National Youth Federation (DNYF). The DNYF is a student affiliate of the Communist Party-United Marxist Leninists (CP-UML). One of its members, 36-year-old Danuree Sherpa, reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 21. Another, Kami Rita Sherpa, 30, summited several days later. (Rising Nepal, May 22; Kathmandu Post, May 26)

Ascent No. 11 Eludes Ang Rita.

Ang Rita, who has climbed Mt. Everest more than anyone else, was forced to abandon an attempt to complete his eleventh ascent of the world's largest mountain. He and the Ossetian team with which he was climbing on the Tibet side of the mountain were forced back by bad weather. (Kathmandu Post, May 26)


Headless Bodies Found on Far Side of Indian Border.

Indian police reported finding two headless bodies near the Nepal-India border adjacent to Sunsari district in southeast Nepal. They are believed to have been Indian gang members who earlier had been wounded in an encounter with Nepalese police. Police did not try to explain how the gang members might have escaped Nepal without their heads or, if they arrived in India with heads, how they might later have lost them. (Kathmandu Post, May 18)

Mysterious Disappearance of Police Post Goods.

Masked Maoists burned all the goods belonging to the police post at Udayapur Gadhi and beat up the lone policeman on duty there. That, at any rate, is what the policeman in question, Krishna Bahadur Thapa, reported to authorities, who rushed reinforcements to the post to deal with the Maoist threat. When nothing further was heard about Maoists in the area, suspicions arose about Thapa's story. After interrogation, he confessed that it was he who had taken the post's goods. He had hired porters to carry away a tape recorder, camera, bedding, and other goods at a time when no-one else was around. The policeman and his porters are now in custody. (Kathmandu Post, June 8)

Tourists Robbed in Kaski District.

After a house in Lekhnath municipality in the district for which Pokhara is the headquarters. was broken into and robbed, police arrested at least four gang members. They were unable to prove that the latter had robbed the house but found evidence that on other occasions, they had robbed a good many other people, mostly tourists. Police have seized US $2,800 and Australian $500 in travellers checks, along with tape recorders and microphones, a British passport, and a pistol made in Belgium. (Kathmandu Post, May 21)


Hungry Tiger Condemned to Death.

The Chief District Officer of Baitadi district on the far western border of Nepal has ordered his men to shoot on sight a tiger which for the past five months has been hunting down and eating humans in his district. The animal preys on farm workers and small children who are tending cattle, and has been blamed for the deaths of 50 people, most of them children. (AP Online, June 30)

Elephants Drive Tigers Into Hiding

The problem for the tigers in Bardia National Park is not poachers but elephants. More than 70 tigers "used to be seen strolling in the park," according to officials there, but now are rarely visible. This, they believe, is because a growing number of elephants are destroying their environment, and generally creating havoc both inside the park and in neighboring farms. Local villagers, who have watched powerless while their fields and houses are trampled are trying various means to control the large animals, such as playing the sound of wild boars over loud speakers. Many of them believe that the smell of alcohol lures the elephants into the villages. They have not renounced booze, but have set up watch posts to spot any elephants heading for the local bar. (Kathmandu Post, April 16)

Leopards Roam in Syangja.

Leopards, whose habitat in Syangja district in central Nepal is slowly disappearing as fields and villages increase, have been roaming in villages where once there was thick vegetation and terrorizing the citizens. Three villages have reported leopard-caused "havoc" in the last three weeks. Nine children were killed by leopards in this area last October. There is no word as to whether a special combined army and police death squad was successful in doing away with the offending leopards. (Rising Nepal, June 16)

Elephants Terrorize Village

Three rogue elephants made their way into a village in the far southeastern district of Jhapa one night in late May and destroyed crops and animals, as well as terrorizing the local people. Houses, cow sheds, fruit trees and vegetables were in wreckage after the visit. In addition, the wild elephants were said to have killed a water buffalo, two cows, and a domestic pig. The local people were able to drive them away to a nearby forest, "but they have been nagging the residents at night." (Kathmandu Post, May 27)

Tiger Captured Alive.

The tiger who wandered, uninvited, into the house of Rudra Bahadur Thapa of Musikot village in south central Nepal did not know what it was getting into. Local people locked it inside the house. A special police team was called that was able to capture it alive. It was then turned over to the district forest office, which, not wishing to do the animal harm, returned it to its "wild dwelling." (Sagarmatha in Spotlight, June 20; Kathmandu Post, June 10)

These paragraphs are taken from the full edition of: NEWS FROM NEPAL for which you can enter a subscription (at least six issues a year) by sending $15 to NEWS FROM NEPAL, 600 SW 10th Ave #537, Portland, OR 97205 USA

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Contents copyright © 1996, Robert Peirce.
Revised: 1 August, 1996