"My son was so scared of the police that he killed himself," says the bedridden mother of Naresh Maharjan, a 17-year old schoolboy who recently committed suicide to avoid police arrest. Two years ago, Naresh was detained for three months on suspicion of being a Maoist. He was blindfolded all the time and tortured to get him to reveal the names of Maoist acquaintances. "After all that time blindfolded, his eyes became so weak that he had to start wearing spectacles," says Babita, his sister.
For the last two years, Naresh had been living under severe mental stress. Recently, when police said they were coming to arrest him again, Naresh could not bear the trauma and decided to kill himself. On 9 January, his family found him lying on the bed writhing with pain. They desperately tried to save him, but he died on the way to Patan Hospital.
His best friend Durgadutta Lamsal never thought Naresh would end up like this. "He was a brilliant student and a favourite among his friends," says Durgadutta. He remembers Naresh always asking himself what he had done wrong to merit so much hatred from the police. "He was a very nice person and I don't think he was ever involved with the Maoists."
Keeping a stiff upper lip, and reluctant to make his family worry, Naresh kept quiet about his torture. "He was afraid that our mother would worry too much," says sister Nanda Kumari. The police had come in civil dress and refused to show their identity cards. While addressing this concern to the district police office, police inspector Kushbahadur Thapa denied involvement. "The police would never conceal their identity card while arresting someone," said Thapa who added that it is also against the law to blindfold someone for long periods. Naresh was studying in grade 10 at Jansewa Secondary School in Kirtipur.