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'We need school‚ not museum of Maoist leaders'

  

HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE

RUKUM:Two houses surrounded by a compound wall stand proudly at Bheridanda in Chungbang.

From the exterior, they appear to be normal houses but when one peeps into them both are in interior décor. They were the houses that once Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairperson of the then Maoist rebels and Baburam Bhattarai, their vice-chairperson took shelter during the years of

insurgency.

Purchased from a local Ganja Bahadur Oli for Rs 2 million, the houses along with the land occupied by them have been decorated and treated as a museum now.

A total of Rs 2.5 million including the locals’ fund and labour has been spent so far for the houses to transform them to the present state.

Interestingly, while the village boasts of the ‘museums’ the two houses however are remaining useless. Children of the village are compelled to walk hours together to attend school.

“What else could we do since there is no school in our village?” lamented local Lalita Khadka of Bheridanda, who spends four hours to take to and bring back her seven-year-old son from school. “As grown-up students can go to school on their own, the younger ones need us,” she added.

In fact, the plight of Lalita is similar to many parents in the village, who have to make an ardous and risky journey for hours on the sharp cliffs to take their kids to the schools either to the neighbouring Gairigaun or Dharmashala villages.

Millions have been spent hoping that people would come here to visit the houses once used by the Maoist leaders during the Chungbang meeting but to no avail. If the same fund had been spent to build a school here, at least our kids would have an easy access to education, and they would not discontinued their studies, said the locals.

“We dared give them – Maoist leaders – shelter during the insurgency risking our own lives, but now the leaders who had promised to make our place a heaven have left our children in the lurch. In fact, they haven’t returned to this place again,” said Chanda Bahadur Khadka, a local.

There are about 40 households in Bheridanda. “As even the beginners have to take such an arduous journey, most of the students left their studies halfway,” said Kabita Khadka, a Grade IX student. Locals lament that their pleas for a school in the village has fallen on deaf ears. They have blamed the government of depriving them of basic facilities.

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