Nepali Times
Return of the barbarous

I used to greet the owners of the small Muslim-run shops behind Dharara which used to sell sekuwa saying "Assalam Araikum". Once they invited me to their simple rooms behind the shops during the Eid holiday. Sad incidents happened to Kantipur Publications, Spacetime Network and Qatar Airways and were repeatedly broadcast during three days of curfew. However, no news covered what happened to the most marginalised people in Kathmandu. Recruitment agencies, airline offices and news agencies can claim what they lost due to the riot, but Muslims working in the informal sector have lost everything and no one is thinking of them. They are afraid to go back to their homes and shops. I would like to request journalists to report on not only what happened to themselves but also what happened to the most vulnerable. Media can play a significant role in reconciliation after such sad communal hatred.

Masako Tanaka,

. Thank you for showing me how Hindus mourn. How reassuring when the citizens, the police, the army and fascist scum unite in one cause. Thank you for reminding me of the 1930s in the country of my parents with Kristalltag on September First. I raise my usual five daily Martinis to Mr Carl Sagan: "We are on the eve of discovering that nothing should be done for the sake of gods, but all for the good of man-nothing for another world-everything for this."

Hans B Nix,

. As if the shocking news regarding the brutal murder of 12 Nepalis in Iraq was not enough, we Nepalis poured salt into our own wounds with our senseless acts the next day. Trust takes a lot of time to build, but only a moment to crumble. On Black Wednesday we drove a wedge between Nepal's Hindus and Muslims who have lived peacefully for over 500 years. I wonder what must be going through the minds of Nepali Muslims like Ali Mian, our lok kabi who has contributed so much to our culture. So, as we mourn the loss of lives of our brave brothers in the sands of Iraq, may we all give ourselves a moment for introspection if at all the events that followed in the streets of Kathmandu were the appropriate reaction to it.

Shovendra Gautam,

. The news of the horrific slaughter of 12 Nepalis in Iraq came as a shock to everyone in Nepal, but not to the inept staff of the Foreign Ministry. This ministry does not train its diplomats in language, history, communication skills and culture, let along etiquette. Look how the Indians handled the same kidnapping case. Instead of securing the release of the kidnappers we were engaged in useless interviews. Our ambassador in Qatar spoke to Al Jazeera but did the kidnappers understand his English? At times of national crisis, the Foreign Ministry has really let us Nepalis down. Our career diplomats are only interested in perks and plum postings. These lethargic, corrupt and useless bunch of dullards in foreign missions should be sacked and the Foreign Ministry revamped completely. I want to see more on the lapses of the Foreign Ministry in your paper. For 12 days, the ministry, its third-rate minister and equally unqualified staff waffled as the hostage crisis unfolded.

K Sharma Tennessee,

. My question to the Nepali media: why did you handle the hostage murders so insensitively? First, there were the grieving mothers, the gory pictures of the executions. I understand that the media has an obligation to get the news out but the way in which these pictures were shown to viewers was done so carelessly that it was a factor in the anger spilling over into the streets. Isn't there a limit to what the media can and can't do? Aren't there guidelines? My conclusion is that if the media had used more discretion in its work, the riots would not have been as bad. Also the security apparatus could have been more alert as the riots spread.

GB Gurung,

. For a country that is teetering precipitously close to the edge of total implosion, anything that could aid in delaying that slide down into the abyss of anarchy would be a godsend. Unfortunately, one of those things that is in shortest supply during such times is sanity, and once again we have the case of Nepal to underscore that point.
I won't ask if any of the people who went about spreading insanity through the streets of Kathmandu ever thought about the tens of thousands of lives they were helping ruin almost as effectively as those savages in Iraq did the lives of those they butchered. Mindless thugs exist everywhere in the world and can't be wished away. That there were more of them in Kathmandu on Black Wednesday was a revalation, but not a profound one. It is the state's response that seems to have been the most shocking. Were the riots but dry runs instigated by the Maoists? Why was there no law and order when it was most needed?

Name withheld,

. I would also like to apologise to the entire Muslim community in Nepal for the crimes committed against them the last few days. The desecration of the mosque in Jamal was an act of utmost intolerance and ignorance. There aren't enough words to say sorry, except to ask for forgiveness and hope that we Nepalis may in future continue to live in harmony as we have done for centuries.


. Democracy is a wonderful thing: it allows student movements to exist. They can be powerful forces for change. But it is time Nepali students stopped being pawns of corrupt politicians. It is time the youth of Nepal started to think for themselves. Where is the glory in tearing up roadside railings and burning public property? Where is the glory in burning taxis and buses that ordinary people worked hard for many years to acquire? How smart is it to destroy the records of manpower agencies, however corrupt, when those very records are needed to keep track of their whereabouts? Where is the honour in attacking fellow Nepalis just because they have different religion? How does this help Nepal? It is time the 'student movement' in Nepal seriously examines its motives and charts its own independent course and avoid being manipulated by political forces. Will it be an eye for an eye until the whole world is blind?

S Sherpa and W Lama,

. Many may believe the power of opinion in Nepalis is inert, that we have become indifferent to happenings around us as long as we are not directly affected by them. This belief has been challenged by the unified voice raised by Nepalis last week. What is unfortunate is the fact that this voice has not been channelled in the right direction. Twelve Nepalis killed by an external force and we clamoured on the streets seeking justice and explanation. What about the thousands killed, ironically, by an internal force over several years of insurgency? Why weren't we on the streets shouting for explanation then? And why is this voice, strangely, still subdued? What about political leaders that survive on personal agendas rather than national priorities, what about undelivered promises and false hopes? Change is a relative term. For something to rise, something else must fall. For something to start anew, something else must wither and perish. The day will come when we will tear down all that stop change, wipe out elements that weaken the pillars of society so that new structures can be erected.

Akash Shrestha,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)