Holi was colourless and joyless for families of those martyred during the 2015 Madhes protestsRamjyoti Devi of Jagarnathpur in Birgunj-22, Parsa, did not celebrate Holi this year In fact, she has not been celebrating the festival since her son died almost four years ago
Ramjyoti Devi of Jagarnathpur in Birgunj-22, Parsa, did not celebrate Holi this year. In fact, she has not been celebrating the festival since her son died almost four years ago.
Every year, Ramjyoti spends Holi remembering her deceased son Dilip Chaurasiya. On August 31, 2015, Dilip was killed in police firing in Birgunj during the Madhes protest. Dilip, who was only 19, was an engineering student. “When I see his friends celebrate Holi, I am reminded of my son,” says Ramjyoti.
After Dilip’s untimely death, the government provided Rs1 million as compensation to Ramjyoti’s family, but the money has done little to assuage the feeling of loss among the Chaurasiya family. “The compensation will not bring my son back,” she said, adding that her family is still reeling from the shock of Dilip’s death.
The atmosphere at another martyr’s family home in Bhawanipur, Birgunj-22, is also that of gloom. Dharmaraj Singh was also killed in the police firing during the Madhes protest on September 1, 2015. Back then the people of Madhes were protesting against the proposed seven-state federal model.
“We still can’t believe that our son is not with us anymore,” said Prabhu Singh, Dharmaraj’s father, talking about how he is reminded of his son’s absence especially around Holi.
A team of social campaigners, including Prakash Tharu and Anishkant Kushwaha, have been meeting with the martyrs’ families every year during Holi and Chhath, and listening to their stories of pain. “We do what we can to help these families’ overcome their grief,” said Tharu.
Three years ago, nine people in Parsa were declared martyrs after the Madhes protest.