Frightened friends, classmates remember the deceased minorsAarubote Secondary School Headmaster Bhawendra Kumar Rai says the students are scared after the incident and have refused to come
On Monday, Pabitra Tamang, a ninth grader at Aarubote Secondary School, had sought permission to be excused out of class from her class monitor Yuhana Sherma.
Yuhana was chosen the class monitor because she had all the characteristics of an ideal pupil: good in studies, curious, helpful, hardworking and liked by all.
“Our teachers had chosen Yuhana as the class monitor because she was a good student. She was among the toppers in our class and would help the other students with their classwork,” said Pabitra.
Pabitra was preparing to go to school on Tuesday morning when she heard the news of the massacre at her friend’s house. “I heard that everybody in Yuhana’s family, including her, were killed. I couldn’t believe it, so I went to her house to see for myself. The scene at Yuhana’s house left me in tears.”
Among the nine killed in Aarubote on Monday night, four were children. Yuhana 13, and her sister Muna Sherma, 7, Aashika Khajum, 11, and Iksha Sherma, 6. Sita Khajum, 13, the sole survivor of the incident, had managed to escape to a neighbouring house.
Sachana Budhathoki was Muna’s best friend.
“Muna was my good friend. I keep thinking about the time when we enjoyed delicious plums at school on Monday. We always played together during our breaks. I miss her terribly,” Sachana said of her pal.
Muna, like her older sister Yuhana, was also the one of the top students and the monitor of Grade 4.Sita and Aashika Khajum, Yuhana and Muna’s cousins, also attended the same school. The youngest victim of the massacre, Iksha Sherma, was also living with the Khajum family.
Although Aarubote Secondary School has remained open since the murders, the school premises wear a deserted look.
The children don’t want to go to school and the parents can’t bring themselves to send their wards to school so soon after the tragedy.
“The students are frightened after the incident. We have opened the school but the students have refused to come. It’s not just the students who are in shock. Even we are trying to deal with what happened here on that fateful Monday night,” Headmaster Bhawendra Kumar Rai said.
Buddhimaya Fiyak, the mother of Aashika, has been deveastated after losing her daughter, Aashika, and other members of her family.
After divorcing from her husband, Buddhimaya had gone to Jhapa to start a new life. She had left her three daughters with her parents.
However, sometime in mid-April, she took one of her daughters, Bina, with her to Jhapa, leaving behind Aashika and Sita with their grandparents.
“I was able to take Bina with me but Sita and Aashika didn’t want to come with me. They wanted to stay here. I wish I had taken all my daughters with me,” Buddhimaya said wistfully. The Monday night’s incident has not just affected the friends and families of the victims, but the entire village of Aarubote. Pahalman Fiyak, a local man, feels unsafe as the children in the village.
“The villagers are panic-stricken and terrorised after the incident. Nothing like this has ever happened here and we all are trying to make sense of what happened. But this was a senseless killing of two families.”Kanchhimaya Fiyak, 51, a local woman, said that she cannot even stay in my own house without fear.
“I am taking shelter at my neighbor’s house. I’m scared to stay at my place. None of us have been able to eat or sleep since Tuesday morning.”
Panchthar carnage victims cremated
All nine victims of the Aarubote murder incident were cremated at Chiyandanda in Aarubote and Sarangdanda in Miklajung Rural Municipality-2 on Thursday.
Five family members of Dhanraj Sherma and four members of his father-in-law Bam Bahadur Fiyak were slaughtered by a masked man on Monday night.
Police suspect that the man behind the mask was Man Kumar, who was found hanging from a tree in a neighbouring village on Tuesday.
Amar Makhim, chairman of Miklajung Rural Municipality, said that a house of Bam Bahadur has been handed over to his daughters, whereas the house of Dhanraj is under police surveillance as his relatives are in Sarangdanda.