Shahid Diwas of Nepal

This year, January 30, 2022 (Magh 16 every year) is the Martyr Day in Nepal. The day marks the first four martyrs during the Rana regime, some 80 years ago. At that time, four youth were given capital punishment by then government.

4 Martyrs martyred in 1941 — represented in the Shahid Gate

  • Shukraraj Shastri
  • Dharma Bhakta Mathema
  • Dashrath Chand
  • Ganga Lal Shrestha

Other during those time were

  • Bhimdatta Panta
  • Durgananda Jha
  • Ratna Kumar Bantawa
  • Yagya Bahadur Thapa

The story of one of the Martyrs – Dharmabhakta Mathema:

Dharma Bhakta Mathema was one of the first professional body builders of Nepal and a founding member of Praja Parishad. He introduced modern body building techniques in Nepal. A school is also established on his name ‘Shahid Dharma Bhakta Higher Secondary School (SDB)’ currently located in Nakkhu, Lalitpur, Nepal by his daughter Renu Devi.

In his childhood, Dharma Bhakta was thin so, other children would tease and bully him. To put an end to all that, he joined a gym while in Calcutta. His constant physical exercise rapidly improved his health. He so excelled in bodybuilding that he was announced as “Shree Bengal” (which literally means “Mr. Bengal”) in an all Bengal bodybuilding contest. After graduating with an I.A. degree from Scottish Church College, he married Uttaradevi from Biratnagar.

He returned to Kathmandu and established a gym at his aunt Yamkumari Ray’s house. Many youths of Kathmandu joined the gym. The members of Rana family and the police forces also joined the gym. When a troop of German soldiers visited Nepal Dharma Bhakta showed his body building tricks and exercises in the presence of Juddha Shumsher.

And during the Ghode Jatra festival, he showed his bodybuilding tricks and technique to the people in the presence of King Tribhuvan and other Rana family members in Tundikhel. Some bodybuilding poses and performance included:
– he put a long rod on his back and told three to four persons on each side of the rod to hang. He then jumped and lifted those people with him.
– He lied down on the ground and told a person to hammer his chest with a hammer and remained unharmed to the amazement of the people.

King Tribhuvan was also impressed by his performance. He was later appointed a physical instructor to the king.

Shukraraj Shastri

Sukraraj was a an intellectual and fighter for democracy who was executed by the autocratic Rana dynasty. Shastri was also a social reformer and author who wrote a number of books in Nepali and Nepal Bhasa.

Shastri was born in Varanasi, India where his father Madhav Raj and mother Ratna Maya Joshi were living in forced exile due to political reasons. Madhav Raj was a leader of the Arya Samaj in Nepal. The Joshis were originally from Lalitpur. Shukra Raj was schooled in India, and he acquired the title Shastri after earning a Shastri degree from Dehradun. He became better known by this name than his actual surname Joshi.

He wrote a grammar of the language entitled Nepal Bhasa Vyakaran which was published from Kolkata in 1928. He was the first to produce children’s literature. His other works include Nepal Bhasa Reader, Books 1 and 2 (1933) and Nepali Varnamala (1933).

Dashrath Chand

He was born at Baskot of Baitadi district of Nepal in 1903 AD as a son of Sher Bahadur Chand. Dasharath Chand met Tanka Prasad Acharya and Dharma Bhakta Mathema who were active in starting a political revolution in Nepal. A Political party called the Nepal Praja Parishad was organized in the presidency of Tanka Prasad Acharya in Nepal with the active participation of Dasharath Chand.

It became active and started distributing pamphlets explaining the arbitrary Rana rule. For about 4 months, the government did not know who were doing it. At last, a reward of Rs. 5000 was announced for the revelation of the secret. The reward tempted Ramji Joshi, a member of Praja Parishad and he disclosed the secret. So arresting the leaders was begun. Gangalal Shrestha and Dasharath Chand were arrested.

On January 25, 1941, Dasharath Chand and Gangalal were shot dead at Shobha Bhagawati.

Ganga Lal Shrestha
Ganga Lal was born to father Bhakta Lal and mother Mohani kumari Shrestha in a well-to-do family. His father Bhakta Lal worked for the government and was stationed in Ramechhap where he was the chief of the Revenue Office. After returning to Kathmandu, he renounced his share of the ancestral property at Chhetrapati, and bought a house in Pyaphal next to Kathmandu Durbar Square. Ganga Lal lived in this house with his family and wife Hasana Devi (1918–2011).

Ganga Lal went to Kolkata with his uncle to study. Returning to Kathmandu, he enrolled in Durbar High School. He is believed to have been an intelligent student and secured first division in the Matriculation examination. After the examination, he was admitted to Trichandra College where he studied science.

Other less known Martyr include

Bhimdatta Panta

Durgananda Jha

Ratna Kumar Bantawa

Yagya Bahadur Thapa

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