Despite the country’s multiculturalism, minority groups in Nepal — known as Dalits or untouchables — are often subjected to various forms of discrimination, which ranges from hate speech and abuse to rape and murder.
Most recently, on May 24, two Dalit boys, Nawaraj Bishwakarama (BK) and Tika Ram Sunar, were found dead on the banks of the Bheri river in the Jajarkot district of Southern Nepal. Three other bodies of Ganesh Budha, Sandip BK and Lokendra Sunar were found later and another youngster, Govinda Shahi is still missing. An inter-caste love relationship was deemed to be the major reason for their tragic deaths.
A love story gone wrong
Nawaraj, a 21-year-old from Jajarkot who loved playing sports and wanted to join the police force, was born into a Dalit family. He fell in love with Sushma Malla, an upper-caste, 17-year-old girl. Once her family learned about their relationship, Nawaraj and his family received frequent warnings to keep away from her, and on one occasion, he was reported to the police.
Sushma’s family wanted to marry her off with someone from her own caste, so she reportedly asked Nawaraj to rescue her before they did. On the night of May 23, Nawaraj — accompanied by 18 friends — headed to Sushma’s village of Soti, in the Rukum district, so that the two could elope. Upon their arrival, they were chased, stoned and beaten. In an attempt to save themselves, some of them jumped into the nearby river and managed to escape, but Nawaraj and five of his friends didn’t survive the fall. Five bodies have been recovered so far, one still missing, and other members of the group were handed over to the police and were released later.
One survivor told to media:
Nawaraj was badly beaten up by the crowd. All his body parts, including his head, were seriously injured. He wasn’t able to move and he was thrown into the river, he was not in a condition to even swim [so he] could survive.
After the incident, police arrested Dambar Bahadur Malla, Sushma’s father and ward chair of the local municipality, along with fifteen others in connection with the incident.