Singh escapes from Kathmandu

Singh’s team-members are arrested: 

As Singh and team thought of ways to take King Tribhuvan to Palpa, the Rana government, upon learning the revolutionaries’ attempt to stage an explosion in Basantapur, intensified their search for Ganesh Man Singh and his friends. They started arresting not only those who were involved in the plot, but also those dabblin in trivial political activities.

Singh recounts being subjected to various difficulties owing to his political allegiance – people would be reluctant to provide him with shelter, or would avoid him altogether. When he was finally able to find shelter, he would notice increased surveillance in a few days, and would be forced to move.

The series of arrests started with Indra Man Singh. Indra Man, who had provided Singh shelter at his Raktakali house, had his house raided. Although Ganesh Man Singh had already left the house, police held Indra Man, Bhola Man Singh and Madhav Joshi.

Soon Sundar Raj Chalise too was arrested. Chalise’s arrest meant a huge setback for Kathmandu’s missions. As he maintained Kathmandu’s network of contacts, Singh was crippled without him.

The situation deteriorated so badly that Singh had to hide in the Slashamantak Van (forest) during the day time.

(Slashamantak Van is the strip of forest between Pashupatinath Temple and Gujeshwori Temple.)

“It was in this forest I spent my days hiding from the authorities. I would enter Kathmandu only once it was dark with the hope that any friend would provide me shelter for the night” Singh shares his ordeal with Mathbar Singh.

“I still remember the pangs of hunger and thirst. I used to be constantly tired, but sleep would elude me because of my fear of being found by the police. One time I finally did manage to fall asleep in the forest, it rained and I woke up drenched”, Singh adds.

Arrests continue; Singh plans to leave Kathmandu:

Right: A Google Maps image of the Slashamantaka Van - the strip of forest between Pashupati and Guhyeshwori
Right: A Google Maps image of the Slashamantaka Van – the strip of forest between Pashupati and Guhyeshwori

As Singh spent his days in the forest, the arrests continued – Dil Man Singh, Kul Man Singh, Bhairay Shrestha, Purna Khawas, who had entered Kathmandu with Singh were arrested.

Raj Das Shrestha, who had assisted Singh in Banepa too was arrested.

“Rumours about the brutal treatment of those arrested were rife. They used those tactics to extract information about the party, and my whereabouts”, Singh said to Mathbar Singh.

Meanwhile, Colonel Pratap Bikram Shah, Mohan Bikram Shah, Toran Shumsher Rana, Nod Bikram Shah and Krishna Bikram Shah were also held. They were charged with providing aid to those plotting to stage an explosion, and instigating the army to help anti-national forces.

The few remaining friends who weren’t arrested yet suggested Singh should leave Kathmandu immediately. Considering the risks, they sat together to discuss his escape plan.

First they had to think of an easy route:

“Upon learning I had entered Kathmandu from Banepa, police had increased surveillance along the route, which meant I couldn’t take that route. The Thankot-Bhimphedi, the main route for trade, was heavily frequented which meant I couldn’t travel via that route as well. The other option was via Trishuli, which was less frequented by travelers, and seemed the best option for escaping from Kathmandu”, Singh told Mathbar Singh.

Singh also needed a cover story for his reason to travel:

The Trishuli route, which connected Nepal’s western region, was frequented by buffalo traders. Singh, who was consulting his escape plan with a few other friends, agreed that he should travel in the guise of a buffalo trader. A buffalo trader would travel with a few herdsmen, and for the purpose, two others were also assigned.

Lastly Singh had to look like a businessman:

“I was dressed in a pair of daura-suruwal of thick handloom cloth, a black cotton waist-coat, a Dhaka Topi, a pair of palanchokay shoes, and a girdle of khaddar cloth fastened around my waist – I looked like a businessman indeed”, Singh shares.

Leaving Kathmandu:

In the evening, the group headed towards Nuwakot via Balaju.

Around midnight, Singh and his friends reached the foothills of Panchamanay, their stopover for the night – at Indra Man Singh’s father-in-law’s place.

Singh and his friends enjoyed a hearty meal, slept comfortably, and left before the crack of dawn the next day.

By the time dawn broke, the team was nearing the top of Panchamanay Hill. It was autumn, and Singh shares the beautiful view that surrounded him:

“Looking below, we could see a vast expanse of golden paddy fields. In the east, the first rays of the sun were casting a magical orange light in the valley and on the snow-capped peaks that lay ahead of us. The Himalayas wear an ethereal beauty during sunrise – instead of bright white, the snow-capped peaks display different hues of red. The eyes refuse to move away from the scene – you feel like looking at it until your eyes are sore”.

Thus, enjoying a magical sunrise, Singh and team trudge along their journey.

The pass at the top of the hill, which was one of Kathmandu Valley’s four entry points, consisted of a check-point. Although the probability of the guard being awake at this hour was minimal, they decided to avoid the post. They therefore walked further uphill to navigate around the check-point.

By the time Singh and friends completed the climb, they were exhausted. After a short break, they started making their way down-hill.

Walking along the stony and uneven trail, at one point, Singh had to take a slightly longer step. He missed his balance and unfortunately sprained his ankle.

There was no question of stopping, so they continued their journey. Singh also refused assistance to be carried.

 “The pain was excruciating, but strange. It would hurt when I walked downhill, but there would be no pain when I walked uphill. Now I am 77 years of age and suffer from arthritis, which means my leg bones are worn out. This disease has affected me since that accident”, Singh told Mathbar Singh.

Note: At the time Ganesh Man Singh shared his story with Mathbar Singh, he was 77 years old.

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