Bijay Raj Ghimire, known as the living martyr of Nepal, has passed away. He was 54. He had been suffering from lung cancer. He was undergoing treatment in India and had returned to Kathmandu just a few weeks ago. Further treatment was being done in Kathmandu and he had been admitted at Medicity Hospital in Lalitpur when he took his last breath on Sept 15.
Ghimire got the title of a living martyr in Nepali politics after he nearly lost his life while leading the anti-panchayat protest in Rampur on 18 February 1990. At the protest, Ghimire was injured during the police firing. His brother Surya Ghimire, on the other hand, was shot dead. Since Ghimire managed to survive that terrible incident, he was called a living martyr.
But that wasn’t the only time when Ghimire encountered a near death experience. In 1987, during the reunion of Nepali Congress in Rampur, Ghimire was attacked and supposedly killed by the then ruler. Friends, who later went to collect the body, found him alive and immediately got him the treatment he needed. Ghimire, who joined the anti-panchayat movement at the age of 21, was active in politics for over four decades.
Born and raised in Rampur, Palpa, Ghimire was actively involved in Nepali politics from a very young age. He became the secretary of Nepal Student Union of Ram Tulsi High School of Rampur, Palpa at the age of 12 in 1981. He was the district committee member of Nepali Congress, Palpa in 1987, district secretary of Nepal Student Union, Palpa in 1989, secretary of a union in Tribhuvan Multiple Campus, Tansen, and district secretary of Nepali Congress, Palpa from 1991 to 1992. Many might not know this, but he named his son ‘Jai Nepal’—the salute of Nepali Congress—as a tribute to his party.
Those who knew him say he was a selfless person. Ghimire never expected anything in return for his contribution to Nepali politics. Himaldatta Shrestha, chairman, Nepali Congress Palpa, says that Ghimire had declined the Rs 500,000 financial help that was allocated for his treatment by the Rampur municipality. “He didn’t take a single rupee from the state,” says Shrestha, adding Ghimire’s only goal was to serve the country, which he did till the end.
Chandra Bhandari, a Nepali politician who knew Ghimire from the beginning of his political career in Palpa, says Ghimire was like a brother to him. “He was an extremely curious and talented person. I will miss him.”
Nepali Congress’s Vice-Chairman Dhanraj Gurung, Senior Leader Ramchandra Paudel, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand, Prakash Man Singh, Chandra Bhandari, Bal Bahadur KC, and several other leaders were present at the aryaghat in Pashupati to pay their respects. Before the cremation, the party’s flag was draped over him.
Shrestha says Ghimire’s death is a huge loss to the party as well as the nation. He is survived by his mother, wife, two sons and a daughter.
Birth: 1968, Palpa
Death: 15 September 2022, Lalitpur