Bankrupt businessman set himself aflame outside Nepal parliament

KATHMANDU, 26 Jan 2023:

A businessman died yesterday in Nepal after having set fire to himself outside the parliament in protest against the ongoing economic crisis, which led him to financial ruin. The death resulted in hundreds of young people coming out on the streets to demand justice.

Prem Prasad Acharya, 37, died in a hospital in Kirtipur, on the outskirts of the capital, due to severe injuries, a day after he doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire in front of the parliament, said metropolitan police superintendent Dinesh Raj Mainali.

After getting to know of his death, hundreds of people – most of them young citizens – took out a march in Kathmandu carrying placards that urged the government to create a safe environment for working and living.

“This country is a slaughterhouse,” one of the placards read.

A video circulating on social media showed the businessman completely engulfed by flames at the gate of the parliament, seconds before prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s escort vehicles came out of the premises.

Several bystanders tried to douse the flames with water and tree branches.

In a letter published on his social media handles, Acharya said he was forced to take this extreme step after being ruined financially.

Apart from supplying supermarkets and shops that did not pay him on time, the businessman said he faced financial problems while studying, searching for jobs and doing business. He said he had been suffering from depression for many years.

For years, Nepal has been witnessing severe economic problems due to long periods of instability and conflict, with few employment opportunities available outside of agriculture. Many young Nepalis have been forced to seek employment overseas to support their families.

The impact of the lockdown, travel restrictions and security measures associated with the pandemic, followed by a global crisis, have also proved to be a hard blow for the tourism industry, one of the main sources of foreign currency for the Himalayan nation.