Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press

It seems amazing to think that even in this day and age people can be clapped in iron chains and kept in stables where they eat, sleep, and excrete like animals. But 35-year-old Indraprasad Agasti (Murari) from Gerkhu VDC near Bidur, the headquarters of Nuwakot district, has been made to live like this for close to 20 years.

His family members say this was done because Indraprasad is mentally retarded. Every time Indraprasad sees the goats and kids running around free, his eyes fill with tears. "It's been 20 years since I have been made to suffer this torture. If it were someone else, he would have gone crazy by now," he says.

ndraprasad's mother Balkumari Agasti says he attacks members of the family, and so cannot be freed. "I, too, cannot bear to look at my son chained like this, but what can I do, we can't take any more of his behaviour," she says, looking at her son. This correspondent could not meet the father.

"It isn't right to chain him like this simply because his mental condition is unreliable. It's better to leave a man who is mentally unstable free," says neighbour Jayaram Rimal. "One would go crazy chained up like this, even if one weren't in the first place. If we talk to his father about this, there is a fight. We have to keep quiet," he adds.

Minkumari Lamichane, a relative of the family, says, "Every time we speak with his father about spending some money to cure him, he tells us to not bring up the subject anymore. What can we do? It is heartbreaking to see him like this." The family doesn't even accept her suggestion that Indraprasad be moved from the stables to the front lawn.

Whenever Murari sees a passerby he peers from an eyehole in the window of the stables, hoping they will come and free him. Talking to us he said, "When I saw you I thought you must either be the police or human rights activists." He says he has never met anyone from a law-enforcement agency, or a human rights activist, or even local administrators. Indraprasad says that he is not mentally unstable, and that if he is freed, he can be a normal, productive person.

The conditions in the stable are morbid. It isn't just the mosquitoes, the ticks and the bed bugs, but the fact that Murari has to eat and excrete in the same place that makes it so unhygienic and inhuman. "No one cares for me," he says showing the marks left by the chains on his hands. "I can't even shoo away the mosquitoes." Murari is married and even has a daughter, but his wife married someone else and left their daughter in her maternal home.

"This is the 21st century, people are talking about animal rights it's a shame that not one human rights organisation or activist, the law and its keepers, the administration has paid any attention to this case," says a local schoolteacher.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)