Encounters with the Shahids

Of the four Shahids (martyrs) of Nepal (Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha, Dharma Bhakta Mathema, and Dashrath Chand), Ganeshman Singh’s early political years extensively interweaves with three of them (Shastri, Shrestha and Mathema). His experiences with them are one of the most profound experiences of his life, and contribute immensely towards his political inclinations.

  1. Shahid Shukraraj Shastri:

Ganesh Man Singh’s first encounter with Shukraraj Shastri was in Calcutta – when he was giving a philosophical discourse. Singh, an audience of the discourse asks him a personal question with an objective to demean him. “How come a 42 year old is married to a young wife?” he questions with an intention to belittle Shastri. Singh later admits that he was driven by a self-inferiority complex, and in the years to come develops great admiration for Shukraraj Shastri.

Singh and Shastri’s relationship continues, and develops further – however delving into that would mean getting ahead of the story.

  1. Dinner with Gangalal Shrestha:

One fine day, after Singh has returned to Kathmandu, a mutual friend of Singh and Shahid Gangalal Shrestha invites Ganeshman for dinner. “Join us for dinner Ganeshman Ji, Gangalal too will be there”, the mutual friend says. Ganesh Man Singh takes offence, his ego was bruised. An angered Singh tells the friend that he should have invited Singh first, and then sought his permission to invite Gangalal. Nevertheless, Singh agrees to join them for dinner.

During the course of the dinner, Ganesh Man Singh belittles Gangalal – calls him an Uttarkumar from the Mahabharata.

“In the Mahabharata, Uttarkumar had joined the war in favour of the Pandavas – earlier he was heard making  loud proclamations about his bravery, however when reaching the battlefield, he fled after seeing the size of the Kauravian army”.

Singh’s comparison came in reference to an earlier pardon request from the Ranas by Gangalal.

However, Singh’s impression of Gangalal was soon to change – it was only a stroll away.

Gangalal poses a question:

After dinner, Gangalal and Singh head home together. As they walk along the Gaddhi Baithak, Gangalal poses a question to Singh which strikes a deep chord in the heart of Ganesh Man Singh.

Pointing to two women sweeping the streets, Gangalal asks Singh: “You see the two women over there Ganesh Man Singh ji; what if the Ranas forcefully took them away?”

“What to talk of the Ranas Gangalal Ji, even if I take them away their husbands cannot do anything”, Singh replies arrogantly.

Gangalal then asks him another question: What if the Ranas took away your wife or sisters; what can you do?

The question took Singh aback, although he assumed the lines were said as a retort to Singh’s earlier insult, it struck a deeper chord. Ganesh Man Singh spent a sleepless night, and before the crack of dawn reached Gangalal’s home.

“Simply saying that we are in a weak position will not do, we must think of a way out. I have come to consult with you about forming a political party”, Ganesh Man Singh said to Shahid Gangalal.

Note: At the time, forming political parties were illegal, and considered an act of treachery against the state.

Gangalal deters Singh from forming a political party owing to lack of resources. Instead the two agree to find and join the Prajaparishad – a rumoured underground political party.

On his way back home, Singh recounts a strange feeling of euphoria sweep through himself – as he walks through the Durbar Square, he remembers the history the place has witnessed, from the Mallas to the Shahs to Kot Massacre. He looks at the people, the city, in the distance he can see the Swayambhu and his resoluteness to fight against the Ranas becomes firmer.

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