Mangala Devi defies curfew orders to search for a fallen Bhogendra Man Singh

Bhogendra Man Singh is killed:

Ganesh Man Singh, who is recounting his memoirs with Mathbar Singh, feels a little uncomfortable when visiting this chapter of his life.

“I am feeling a little uneasy; I have to describe that stage of the revolution in which my own family member had to give up his life”, Singh tells Mathbar Singh before recounting the death of Bhogendra Man Singh, his cousin brother.

Bhogendra Man Singh was the youngest son of Ganesh Man Singh’s uncle Govinda Man Singh. Before Singh’s arrest in Kathmandu, when Singh was hiding in Bhogendra Man Singh’s house, the duo would spend many evenings discussing areas of national and global politics.

Bhogendra Man Singh, a talented student with a deep knowledge of history, would probe Ganesh Man Singh about the objectives of Nepali Congress.

“He used to feel proud of my political efforts to bring about a democratic reform in Nepal. He was very resentful of the service provided by our family members towards the Ranas, and perhaps he felt pride in finding me as an exceptional member of the family”, Singh would tell Mathbar Singh.

One day, on the 13th day of Mangshir (28th November, 1950), citizens of Kathmandu, defying a curfew order gathered in a huge group to protest against the government at Bhugol Park.The protesters, led by Bhogendra Man Singh and a few other friends were marching towards the Central Jail in Tripureshwor. They were chanting slogans against the Rana regime along the way.

As they were crossing the palace of Hari Shumsher, loud gunshots could be heard. Panic ensued, and everyone instinctively dispersed in different directions. Three people were shot, one of them being Bhogendra Man Singh. According to accounts of those who had participated in the protests, the fallen Bhogendra Man and the two others were dragged by the police.

Immediately afterward, the Army sprung into action, and the curfew order was tightened. The protesters, including family members of Bhogendra Man had no idea where he was being kept, or if he was alive or dead.

Family members of Bhogendra Man spent the night in great agony.

Mangala Devi defies curfew orders to search for Bhogendra Man:

The next morning, Mangala Devi along with Sumitra Singh, defying curfew orders stepped out of their homes to learn about the whereabouts of Bhogendra Man Singh.

Mangala Devi was the wife of Ganesh Man Singh, and Sumitra Singh was Bhogendra Man Singh’s ‘bhauju’ (sister-in-law). Singh, who heard this account later, was surprised at learning his wife’s political inclinations.

“We had been only married for four months when I was arrested and taken to jail. At the time, I had thought she was shy-natured, however, was yet to learn later about her determined nature”, Singh told Mathbar Singh.

Mangala Devi, in the following years would be a highly admired political figure, leading many protests, and representing Nepali women’s interests in mainstream politics. She was also the founding president of Nepal Women’s Association (Nepal Mahila Sangh), established in 1947. The association had protested against the treatment of prisoners by the Rana administration, and had also presented a case representing Nepali women to Padma Shumsher.

Coming back to 1950, Mangala Devi and Sumitra Singh first reached Bir Hospital. The victims weren’t there. They then proceeded to the Military Hospital. The guards wouldn’t allow them inside, however the duo were adamant.

When they finally made their way inside, they found Bhogendra Man and his injured friends – Bhogendra Man was in a bad shape. He had lost a lot of blood. Mangala Devi raised a huge hue and cry, demanding she be allowed to take Bhogendra Man home. After much persistence, and threats of launching a Satyagraha right then and there, the authorities allowed Bhogendra Man to be taken home.

Sadly, Bhogendra Man succumbed to his injuries on the third day of being taken home. Sumitra Singh, who was deeply affected by the incident, too passed away after 10 days of Bhogendra Man’s death.

Later, after Ganesh Man Singh was freed from jail, Mangala Devi shared with Singh that she was in fact participating in the same procession as of Bhogendra Man. She had seen him get shot, therefore was determined to find him despite others advising her against it.

Nationwide protests continue, Kathmandu becomes calm:

After Bhogendra Man Singh’s death, Kathmandu became quiet. A wave of bitter cold engulfed the city, and the people of Kathmandu abided by the curfew orders.

Singh would hear the sound of a bugle from Dharahara every day. After the bugle, a guard would announce the curfew order of the next day. The notice would also allocate time for residents to carry out their daily activities – shop for necessities, fetch water, etc. Occasionally at night, a canon would be heard as a warning to Kathmandu residents to stay indoors.

Singha Durbar also became quiet; the guards stopped coming to Singh with stories as there wasn’t much to report about.

The Ranas believed Kathmandu had submitted to their authority.

Meanwhile, outside Kathmandu, there was mayhem.  Internationally, other nations continued their refusal to acknowledge Gyanendra as the King of Nepal, and domestically, the Liberation Army (Mukti Sena) had stepped up their armed revolution. The Ranas had lost much of their territory to the revolutionaries.

Udayapur District had been captured under the leadership of Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Janakpur under the leadership of Rudra Prasad Giri, Bhojpur under the leadership of the Naradmani Thulung and Ram Prasad Rai, and Khotang and Solukhumbu under the leadership of Sarbhadan Rai. All these districts, and many other captured before were declared independent under the four-starred flag.

The Liberation Army, emboldened by their success, continued their pursuits.

Much later, Singh’s friends shared with him the reason why an ill-equipped army like Liberation Army succeeded against the well-equipped Nepali Army.

“They always had the support of the locals. The locals would give them shelter and food. Without the support of the public, the Liberation Army would have lost their battles much earlier”.

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