Terrifying, tumultuous and tragic


December 31, 2020


Terrifying, tumultuous and tragic

KATHMANDU: The year 2020 was tiresome, terrifying, tragic, and tumultuous. To sum up the year, there is no simple way as it remained messy, devastated the country’s economy, and changed the way people lived.

The year 2020 will not be forgotten as the whole world, including Nepal was gripped by the deadly coronavirus pandemic. taking away more than 1,847 lives in Nepal (as of December 30)

Nepal witnessed a nationwide lockdown to control the possible spread of COVID-19 from March 24.

And yes, Nepal’s political scenario and democracy underwent some extraordinary tests as Prime Minister KP Oli dissolved the House of Representatives on December 20 announced mid-term polls to be held in two phases on April 30 and May 10, 2021.

This abrupt move of the Prime Minister led to nationwide protests witnessing a vertical split of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, which had been engaged in an intra-party feud since the beginning of 2020.

After a year full of tragedy, political dramas, issuance of Nepal’s revised political map, and the announcement of the new height of Mt Everest, Khabarhub looks back at the highlights, heroes, and villains of 2020. With reflections from the team of Khabarhub English Bureau, here’s the big picture in a summarized package.

However, despite all odd, Nepali people remained heroic, hopeful and resilient as always. They remained optimistic with the hope of overcoming this blip, and that things would come back to normalcy.

COVID-19 was everywhere, literally. Its spread and impact led to a global crisis of unprecedented proportion and reach with Nepal no exception.

After a year full of tragedy, political dramas, issuance of Nepal’s revised political map, the announcement of the new height of Mt Everest, Chinese encroachment of Nepali land in Humla, and high-level visits from India and China, Khabarhub looks back at the highlights, heroes, and villains of 2020. With reflections from the team of Khabarhub English Bureau, here’s the big picture in a summarized package.

The issuance of the new map angered India as a result tensions between the two neighbors escalated for some months. However, the tensions between the two countries narrowed down with the high-level visits from India.

The year 2020 began with the inauguration of the Visit Nepal 2020 from the Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu aimed at bringing in two million tourists. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the VNY 2020 amid a grand ceremony at the stadium. The government, however, formally canceled the campaign in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic on March 31.

The year then saw less enthusiasm but people still had high hopes that the coronavirus will not significantly impact Nepal with the KP Oli-led government’s assurances of taking concrete steps to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Likewise, the country witnessed another tragedy on January 21 when eight Indian tourists from Kerala holidaying in Daman in Makawanpur district were found dead in their hotel room.

Likewise, National Assembly elections were held on 23 January 2020 across all seven provinces to elect 18 of the 19 retiring members of the National Assembly.

Nepal reported its first Covid-19 death on May 16, 2020, with the Ministry of Health issuing a statement to confirm the death of a 29-year-old woman from Barhabise in Sindhupalchowk district.

Like the previous year, PM Oli, meanwhile, reiterated his commitment to bring about drastic changes in the country, end corruption, fulfill people’s aspirations, and the list goes further!

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Oli and his ministers, like the previous year, frittered the whole year making hollow promises and assurances.

The ministers basically splurged themselves in dribs and drabs, inaugurations, speeches, assurances….! Many of them, including PM Oli, took their time to blame the coronavirus pandemic for what they said “hindering” the development efforts.

However, more than that, the ruling NCP was engaged in intra-party wrangling with Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi always “one the move” in political meetings with NCP top leaders to keep the party intact.

Like always, the government faced criticism for failing to control corruption and accelerating infrastructure projects. Another criticism the government faced was its inability to stem the spread of coronavirus and import PCR test kits.

Youths with banners, placards and slogans of “Enough Is Enough” took to the streets to pile pressure on the government to accelerate coronavirus tests through PRC, not RTD.

One significant step the government took on May 20, 2020, was to unveil the revised political map of Nepal by including Kalapani, Lipu Lekh and Limpiyadhura within its territory on the basis of political consensus and approval from the cabinet.

The government scrapped what had been billed as ‘controversial procurement deal’ with the Omni Group entrusted to bring medical equipment from China to tackle the novel coronavirus.

Likewise, the government, along with China, also announced the new height of Mt Everest (8,848.86 meters), the world’s highest peak on December 8, 2020.

On February 20, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota resigned from his post after the release of an audiotape in which he was heard negotiating kickbacks with a Swiss equipment supplier in the security printing press procurement deal.

Another significant event in the year 2020 was the merger of Samajwadi Party Nepal and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal on April 22.

Likewise, the killings of six youths in Soti of Chaurjahari Municipality in Rukum (West) also grabbed national as well as international attention. The parliamentary committee formed to probe into the incident had concluded that the killings were a result of caste-based discrimination prevalent in the Nepali society and a crime against humanity.

Meanwhile, in September this year, news about China encroaching Nepali land in Humla district was flooded in Nepali media.

An on-the-spot inspection of the Lapcha-Limi region of Humla from August 30 to September 9 by Assistant Chief District Officer Dalbahadur Hamal of Humla had revealed that China constructed nine buildings on the Nepali territory in the district.

A report prepared by a parliamentary team led by the Nepali Congress (NC) leader and Karnali Provincial Assembly lawmaker Jeewan Bahadur Shahi after a field visit concluded that China has encroached on Nepali land, despite denial from both China and the Government of Nepal.

Meanwhile, the country witnessed another tragedy as monsoon-triggered floods and landslides claimed some 75 lives in Sindhupalchowk district in September.

Meanwhile, China also blocked the border entry points in Tatopani and Rashuwagadhi barring Nepali goods to enter Nepal.

Hopefully, the dawn of a new decade will offer a fresh start with full of possibilities.

A peek through 2020

Nepal’s House of Representatives elected Agni Sapkota as the Speaker unopposed on January 26, 2020.

On February 10, a 32-year-old youth who returned from China was admitted to the Sukraraj Tropical & Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku following a high fever, and was confirmed with infected with coronavirus.

The government scrapped what had been billed as ‘controversial procurement deal’ with the Omni Group entrusted to bring medical equipment from China to tackle the novel coronavirus.

Likewise, on April 2, the government allowed industries producing daily essentials to resume operation. The same day, the government assigned the Nepal Army to procure COVID-19 medical equipment from China.

On April 5, the government started the test of rapid test kits brought from China. The next day, the government appointed Maha Prasad Adhikari as the new Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank.

The government also extended the nationwide lockdown until April 15.

On April 7, the National Examination Board postponed the exams of grades 11 and 12.

Likewise, on April 9, the Tatopani border point — a major trading route between Nepal and China — resumed operation.

On April 10, Prime Minister KP Oli spoke to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the prevailing situation owing to coronavirus pandemic.

The government appointed Sushil Ghimire as an Executive Chairman of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC).

Similarly, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari appointed former Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey as Nepali Ambassador to China on April 17.

On April 20, President Bidya Devi Bhandari issued two ordinances including an ordinance related to a political party. However, the government on April 24, decided to withdraw both the ordinances following criticisms from all quarters.

On the same day, President Bhandari revoked the controversial ordinances withdrawn by the government.

On April 25, the government extended the suspension on domestic and international flights until May 15 while the next day, the government extended nationwide lockdown till May 7.

Likewise, on May 1, a task force formed by the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to study the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) concluded that it was the part of Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).

On May 3, Nepal slipped six spots in the World Press Freedom Index for 2020 made public by Reporters Without Borders.

And on May 6, the Government of Nepal extended the nationwide lockdown until May 18 to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, on May 8, a group of around 50 Chinese tourists demonstrated in front of the Nepal Tourism Board demanding their repatriation to China amid the nationwide lockdown.

The Budget Session of Federal Parliament began on May 8. Likewise, on May 14, the Supreme Court ordered the government to expand the range of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in a bid to ensure minimum risk of coronavirus infection.

On May 15, President Bhandari unveiled the government’s policy and program for the year 2020/21 in the joint meeting of the federal parliament.

On May 16, Nepal confirmed the first death from coronavirus. According to the Ministry of Health and Population, a post-natal mother died while being taken to Dhulikhel Hospital.

On May 17, the government extended the lockdown period till June 2 as the country continued to witness an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.

On May 20, the government released an updated political and administrative map of Nepal. The cabinet had earlier endorsed the updated map that includes the contested lands – Limpiyadhura, Lipu Lekh and Kalapani in the country.

A Cabinet meeting on May 22 decided to make amendments to the Constitution of Nepal to include the new revised map of Nepal in the coat of arms.

On May 26, a logo with the new map of Nepal was kept at the federal parliament.

Meanwhile, on May 28, the government announced the Federal Budget of Rs 1,474.64 billion for the fiscal year 2020/21.

Similarly, the government decided to rescue Nepalis stranded in foreign countries except in India through the air route on May 29.

On May 30, a Secretariat meeting of Nepal Communist Party decided to hand over the responsibility to the parliament to deal with all programs related to MCC Compact.

On June 5, the government began rescuing Nepali nations stranded in various countries. As many as 26 Nepali from Myanmar landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu.

On June 13, the House of Representatives unanimously endorsed the Constitution Amendment Bill to make a change to the Coat of Arms as per the newly updated map of Nepal.

On June 26, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said that Nepal’s population crossed 30 million.

On June 27, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said locusts entered four districts of Nepal — Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi and Rupandehi.

On July 02, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari approved the government’s proposal to prorogue the House session.

On July 21, the government decided to end the nationwide lockdown imposed from March 24 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

On October 3, a team including the Prince of Bahrain, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, successfully climbed the 6,119-meter-high Mt Lobuche.

On October 6, China blocked the Tatopani border point between Nepal and China that had resumed recently after seven Nepali workers tested positive for COVID-19.

On October 15, a team including the Prince of Bahrain, Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, scaled the 8,163-meter-high peak.

On October 21, Samant Goel, Chief of Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency, arrived Nepal.

On October 23, Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain returned home after successfully climbing Mount Manalsu and Mount Lobuche.

On November 4, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane arrived in Kathmandu on a three-day visit at the invitation of his Nepali counterpart General Purna Chandra Thapa.

Likewise, on November 5, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari conferred the title of honorary chief of the Nepal Army on Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane amid a special program at Shital Niwas.

Naravane had arrived Nepal on a three-day visit, and returned home on November 6.

On November 27, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla returned home wrapping up his two-day visit to Nepal.

On November 29, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe wrapped up his one-day Nepal visit. He had arrived in Kathmandu the same day.

On December 20, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives on the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Oli, and announced general elections in April and May, 2021.

Likewise, seven ministers in the KP Oli-led government resigned en masse on the same day protesting the government’s decision of dissolving the HoR.

On December 30, Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Guo Yezhou returned home wrapping up his four-day Nepal visit.

He had arrived in Nepal on December 27 leading a four-member delegation to assess the situation after the split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party.