Three years after he was arrested by the Indian army in Kathmandu, Prem Bahadur Balchhaudi Chhetri of Tanahu district is languishing in jail at Lucknow (pic, right). He was arrested while was queuing up to receive his pension at Thamel, not in Lucknow as the Indian army claims. Having served in the Indian Army for 22 years, Chhetri retired five years ago and opened a grocery shop at Anbukhaireni in Tanahu. Immediately after he was taken, his family placed notices in various newspapers and TV spots asking for his whereabouts. After three long months they found out that he was imprisoned in the Indian city. His wife Kalpana (pic, right), relatives and other supporters petitioned with the Home Ministry, human rights organisations and political leaders about his unlawful detention and legal status. Chhetri's case even made it to the floor of the parliament, but no further.
Rishi KC, the former chairman of Anbukhaireni VDC says nobody has shown any concern. It's a sentiment that others echo. "It is sad to see the silence of our government when India jails an innocent citizen," says social worker Ajad Kumar Mishra. Chhetri's wife is afraid her husband may spend the rest of his life behind bars. "It looks like the Indians can do anything they want," says the mother of two teenaged sons, whose future is her main concern. Chhetri telephones his family once every three or four months. The last time he spoke to them, he said the Indian government hadn't filed any case against him. "They have no ground to prove their charge," he had said. "I'll be home soon, don't worry." The Indian government provides Chhetri with food in jail but the rest of his expenses have to be borne by his family. They have already spent more than Rs 100,000 to track down his whereabouts and later to petition for his release.