JHAPA, May 26: Netra Bahadur BK had found Meghalaya like home when he reached there as a 14-year-old in search of work. He found the place familiar not just due to similarity in attire but also beacuse everyone he met spoke Nepali.
But 43 years later he nearly lost his life when members of the local Khasi community attacked him because of his Nepali origin and language. "They thrashed me mercilessly, saying that I was Nepali. I somehow managed to save my life," BK, now 57, said on arrival at Kakarbhitta on Tuesday.
BK has returned to his motherland with his old mother and four children after repeated threats from the Khasis. "They threatened to torch our home and kill us if we did not leave," he said explaining the reason for returning home, and added that all his neighbors have also left.
BK worked in a coal mine at Chhalang, Meghalaya for four decades and was living in rented quarters. He would reach the mine early in the morning, load coal onto trucks throughout the day and return home in the evening. The management would pay on the basis of work done and on that fateful day also he had hurried to work.
"Suddenly, a heavy object hit me on my back. When I tried to turn, I helt another hit on my chest," he recalls. Two or three people were pelting stones at him. "´Aren´t you Nepali?´ they asked and before leaving warned me to quit Meghalaya immediately," he says.
The next thing he knew he was in hospital. He started speaking again three days later and he says he still feels the pain while eating and coughing. "I had to leave my country due to financial problems and I stayed there (in Meghalaya) as all those working in the mine were Nepalis," he adds.
He had even taken his family there 15 years ago after he started earning money. He could earn up to 1,000 Indian rupees daily during days of peak operation and he also brought two younger brothers to work in the mine.
"We had gone there after my son promised that life would be better there," his mother Pabitra confides and rues they had to leave behind all their household utensils in Meghalaya. "Everything was fine. But the devils didn´t allow us to live there," states the elderly woman, still unaware of the reason for their plight.
The family of nine departed for their ancestral home in Butwal on Tuesday. "Now I will plough fields here. At least nobody would come to chase me away," the injured BK said, making up his mind.
The future of around 40,000 people of Nepali origin chased away from Meghalaya is now uncertain after local Khasis started to hunt them down and assault them following the death of four Khasis in police firing during a border dispute with Assam at Langpi.They have killed 17 Nepalis.