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The Chaukhute post


TEXT & PHOTOS: RUPA JOSHI


Visiting Achham last month, it was heartening to see that the airport in Saphebagar, which was blown up during a Maoist attack in February 2002, is finally being rebuilt. A new terminal building with a blue tin roof is already up, and all that remains now is the construction of the control tower. The runway may have fallen into disuse for aviation purposes, but hasn't gone to waste: this year the Saphe Mahotsav was celebrated at one end! Hopefully once flights resume, events such as these will find other venues.

Back in 2002, the Maoists laid siege to Saphebagar and the headquarters of Achham, Mangalsen, on the same night. In Mangalsen, progress in rebuilding the old palace that went up in smoke that night seems to have slowed. Construction is yet to move beyond the windows on the ground floor.

Nevertheless, it feels good to see Nepal inching back to some sense of normalcy following the violent conflict. But just so we don't forget what the war was like for our fellow Nepalis, particularly in the countryside, the government should preserve at least some of the destroyed structures in the condition that they are in now. These 'monuments' would serve as a reminder of how bad things were and how it could be just as bad in the future if we are not careful.
One such building is the police post in Chaukhute village, Achham. This post, strategically located on a mound to the right of the highway just as one drives into Achham from Doti, is a striking sight. The concrete roof and walls have caved in, in the most dramatic fashion. Fortunately for the wary policemen once posted there, they were spending the night in the jungle when the blast brought the post down.

A replacement police post can easily be built elsewhere in the vicinity. Chaukhute could be part of a series of 'war and peace' exhibits around the country, included in educational and other historical tours. It can then take its place alongside other reminders of the recent conflict, as well as the forts of yore.



Read also:
The hold of the past, MATTHEW BLEIMAN


LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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