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Nursing Home Death Sparks Massive, Violent Street Protest

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

KATHMANDU, NEPAL--A protest over the death of a nursing home resident turned violent last Wednesday as hundreds of local youths, taxi drivers, and Maoist rebels joined family members in vandalizing the facility and clashing with police.

Before the eight-hour demonstration was over, at least three people -- including a doctor blamed for the resident's death -- were sent to a hospital to be treated for injuries.

The Gorkhapatra Sansthan news service and Nepal News reported that family members of Tula Ram Gautam began demonstrating early that morning after the 69-year-old man died at the Everest Nursing Home. The relatives blamed Dr. Santosh Khadka for causing the death of Gautam, who reportedly had chronic asthma, by allowing an oxygen tank he was using to go empty.

By noon, the demonstration had turned into an angry mob, with hundreds of people blocking traffic, assaulting nursing home staff, and destroying property, including setting fire to tires in the street. Dr. Khadka was reportedly hospitalized for multiple injuries.

Police that were called in to stop the violence shot tear gas into the crowd and reportedly beat some of the rioters with batons.

The protesters disbanded only after the hospital took responsibility for Gautam's death and agreed to pay his son a settlement of 250,000 Rupees ($3,400 US).

The incident happened one day after crowds damaged the Lumbini Zonal Hospital, along with more than a dozen private clinics and an ambulance, after a doctor there was accused of bringing about the death of a patient through negligence.

"Nursing home vandalised over death of patient" (Gorkhapatra Sansthan)
Protestors vandalize Everest Nursing Home" with photo slide show of protest (Nepal News)
"Everest Nursing Home refuses charge of negligence" (Gorkhapatra Sansthan)
"Nursing home accepts mistake; provides Rs. 250,000 compensation to victim's family" (Nepal News)
"LZH, clinics remain closed" (Nepal News)