Jaybahadur Hitan Magar
Jaybahadur Hitan Magar (17 July 1949 – 11 December 2009) was a politician, campaigner, writer and intellectual of Nepal, and a member of the Nepali Congress (NC). He campaigned for a fair involvement of marginalised communities and groups of people within the NC. He was popular among the Indigenous Ethnic People of Nepal, particularly within the Magar community. He fought for these peoples' equal rights and opportunities in the authority. He voiced their concerns, mainly through written articles but also through public speaking. He served in the government prior to entering into full-time politics and is noted as being the main driving force behind establishing the Nepal Magar Association (NMA). He was founding Secretary of the NMA and served three terms of office. He significantly contributed to organizational development of the NMA, and the formation and expansion of the Nepalese Magar Student Association (NMSA). Popular leaders such as Suresh Ale Magar, Baburam Rana, Girija Prasaada Koirala, Manbir Garbuja, Parasuram Tamang, MS Thapa, Gopal Gurung, Ram Krishna Tamrakar, Gorebahadur Khapangi, and Ramprasad Paudyal were among his contemporary friends. Hitan had great interest in Nepalese literature and indeed wrote several poems, song lyrics, dramas, short stories and articles on a wide variety of national, cultural and political topics. He died on 11 December 2009 after suffering from long term paralysis following a stroke in 1999, at his home in Butwal, Nepal.
Birth, childhood and family
Hitan was born on 17 July 1949 at ward number 1, Arewa, Paundi-Amarai, Gulmi District, Nepal. He was third among 6 siblings of father Padamsing Hitan Magar MC and mother Hastikumari. He had one elder brother Ganga, two younger brothers Purna and Ramesh; one elder sister Tulsi, and one younger sister Bhimi.
Hitan's father had two wives Hastikumari and Gauri, but sadly both died at early age due to serious illness. His father served in 4/8 Ghurkha Regiment in British-India where he was awarded a Military Cross (MC) for his bravery during World War II. Even after his retirement, Padamsing continued to receive invitations from his regiment to celebrate VC day in May, and such was his standing in the international community, the Indian government would also invite him to mark their annual Independence Day celebrations in August in Delhi, so he often travelled to India, sometimes twice a year, spending several weeks in route. This nomadic life style of Hitan's father and early death of his mothers put all the responsibilities of raising his siblings squarely on Hitan's shoulders.
Hitan grew up in the hardship of mountainous rural life. He attended and successfully completed high school alongside a daily routine of working in the fields, rearing cattle, fetching water and collecting firewood. At the age of 20, Hitan married Premkumari from Gwalichaur, Baglung. Subsequently they were blessed with three sons: Bijay, Ajay and Sanjay.
Education and occupation
Magar youths in the 1950s and 60s spent their time working on farms, portering and generally enjoying life by taking part in folk music, sing-a-longs and dances. Hitan's father promoted the value of a good literacy and always emphasized that Magar children should attend school. Indeed, he wanted more than anything that his own children would achieve a good standard of education instead of working on the land and tending cattle. With his father's dedicated guidance Hitan completed higher primary school education at his village and then went to a nearby town, Tamghas, to finish his secondary school education. It is said that Hitan was the first person, at that time, to achieve a high school education in the whole village, and as a result of this qualification became headmaster of Sarbodaya High School in Amarai, albeit only a short period of time.
Despite this teaching job, Hitan was always involved in the daily household routine, especially looking after his younger brothers and sister, whilst still finding the time to work the fields and tend the cattle. Being an educated youth, he felt that it was also his responsibility to serve the community.
In 1966, whilst still balancing his family and social life, Hitan entered into government service in the Department of Land Reform. By taking up the post of civil servant, he broke the Magar tradition by not joining the British or Indian Army as a Ghurkha soldier. His first posting was in Dailekh. During this career he served in many places including Pyuthan, Baglung, Palpa, Tamghas, and Bhairahawa in the mid-west of Nepal.
Hitan believed that education made people wise. With this in mind, he pursued part-time education in the evenings and weekends while he worked in government service during the day. Eventually, this hard work paid off. In 1972, Hitan successfully completed the Intermediate of Arts (IA) from Dhaulagiri Mahendra College, in Baglung and in 1979, achieved a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. Yet still he wanted to further his higher education either in Kathmandu or in India and was even prepared to give up his job in the service of the government to achieve his goal. However, he could not fulfill his dream of gaining a master's degree or PhD due initially to his poor family background and then later, because he had too many commitments in politics and volunteering.
Unfortunately, Hitan was never promoted during his 12 years of government service despite his higher education qualifications. Such unfair treatment forced him to resign from the service, which left him resentful throughout his life, although he did have a few proud moments during his working life. Sometimes he would get appointed as the temporary head of the department. However, it was the discriminative policy of the Nepalese Government which made Hitan most frustrated. At that time, Nepalese nationals were few and far between in public service. Indeed, only one of his department colleagues was native Nepalese, who was from Newar. According to his diary, most of the time Hitan was tasked with carrying out field investigations: he had to walk up and down hills and through remote villages, facing the harshest of weather conditions that the foothills of the Himalayas could throw at him. On many occasions he endured lack of food, drink, proper sleep or rest in pursuit of carrying out his employment duties and as a result often became ill.
In 1980, at the age of 31, Hitan resigned from the service of the government and dedicated his life entirely to community service and politics in the Nepali Congress (NC). Full democracy arrived in Nepal in 1990. After the general election, the NC formed a government and in 1992, he was appointed as a board member of Lumbini Development Fund by the NC-led government.
Hitan had a keen interest in Nepalese literature and appears to have been involved from his student days and early stages of his time in the government. Indeed, whilst working as a teacher and also during his service in Baglung he staged plays which were written and performed by himself. Occasionally he would attend concerts and sing folk songs (JHAMRE) with local young women during festive seasons. He has written many songs, most of which with Nepali folk lyrics. He enjoyed studying novels, poems, and other aspects of literature throughout his life.
A narrative poem written by Hitan titled "Swargama Bhetieka Bhanu, Laxmi ra Lekhanath" indicates that Hitan was impressed with top level Nepalese poets—Bhanubhakta, Laxmiprasad and Lekhnath—and although he took part in almost every literary discipline, he appears not to have joined any literary groups or organizations. To date, 44 poems, 36 songs, 2 narrative poems, 11 stories, 2 plays, 3 articles authored by him have been found in handwritten manuscripts. Although he, unfortunately, was unable to publish these as a book while he was alive, the majority of them have now been published in newspapers and magazines under the pen name "Avagi Hitan".
Journalist and writer
In Hitan's mid life, after leaving government service in 1980, he started writing regularly for local and national newspapers, and in the yearbooks of various organizations. His articles, based on current political affairs, Indigenous Ethnic People of Nepal and ex-Ghurkha servicemen were published in newspapers such as Chautary, Lumbini, Rajyasatta, and Nepal Pukar.
In 1981, Hitan became a representative of the New Light, Halchala and Kongpi newspapers which delivered messages and highlighted the issues of indigenous ethnic nationalities in Nepal. Hitan's writings predominantly supported these people's rights.
The NMA used to publish several yearbooks: Langhali, Lafa, Jhorak and Gyahat. Hitan was a member of the editorial group of Langhali. He wrote several articles in these yearbooks in relation to Magar history, culture and language, and worked hard to spread messages raising political awareness of the government's discriminative policy towards the Magar and other ethnic communities, and although most of his articles were found in handwritten form, he had in fact published a book titled "Nepal's Domestic Policy and Democracy" in 1981.
Hitan believed on action rather than words but was more comfortable with the pen than with the spoken word as a vehicle for delivering his messages and would frequently deliver novel thoughts and ideas to the public through newspaper articles. However, he was not averse to giving speeches at meetings and rallies. He had been to many doorsteps of rural communities during his civil servant days and had witnessed the problems of Nepalese citizens very closely, hence, he always used to say that the monarchy-led single-party system, the Panchayat, must bring reform in public sectors and providing equal opportunities to all indigenous and ethnic groups. He would further contend that only then would the national union and the comprehensive development of Nepal occur.
During and after his time as a student Hitan had developed a keen interest in politics and had read and studied many books based on philosophy and the theories of Lenin, Mao and Marx, so one could say that he might have been influenced by communist ideology. However, as part of his job, he had to communicate with different level of bureaucrats, from village and district chiefs to the regional governors of the Panchayat Party-led government. He seemed to have intentions at one stage to be actively involved in politics and even become a member of Panchayat but ironically he lost interest in this party due to its apparent acceptance of inequality and corruption, favouritism of the monarchy, and support of the one-party rule. Instead, towards the end of his civil servant career, he had become so impressed with the ideology of Bishweshwar Prasad (BP) Koirala who was in exile in India, and his political ideologies—social democracy and national reconciliation, that Hitan became a member of the NC.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Hitan became involved in opposition politics but information contained in his diaries indicates that he realised his position as a civil servant would be a barrier. Occasionally, he would manage to escape from work to attend the rallies of dissident political parties. In the end, he resigned from his government job in April 1980 after being posted to Bhairahawa and openly entered into a full-time politics when he took up membership of the NC. Shortly before his resignation, Hitan had attended assemblies in Bhairahawa, Butwal, and Narayanghat to hear BP Koirala speak. He had the good fortune to meet BP face-to-face at Narayanghat to discuss his desire to resign from his job and become actively involved in politics. BP was very pleased to see the young and enthusiastic Hitan and assured him that he would meet him in Kathmandu in the future.
In 1981, a national referendum was held to decide whether Nepal should retain the single-party system or move to a new multi-party system. Hitan openly and actively campaigned for the multi-party system in the run-up to this referendum but believed that the vote was neither free nor fair. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprising from Hitan's point of view, the result was to keep the single-party system. Subsequently, opposing parties were kept under a tight grip. Yet, this did not deter Hitan. His active involvement in opposition politics continued at a faster pace and in 1983 he became Assistant Secretary of the NC in Rupandehi, and later that year he took part, officially, in a development seminar held at Gaindakot. All of the NC's top leaders such as BP Koirala, Ganeshman Singh, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, and Jamansing Gurung were present at that seminar. This was Hitan's first interaction, training and learning opportunity since becoming fully committed to politics, with a clear vision of what organizational changes were needed. He wanted to attract more ethnic and indigenous people to politics but unfortunately from this point forward, Hitan's political journey went through many hardships and struggles.
In 1990, full democracy came to Nepal following what is now known as the 1990 People's Movement. By this time Hitan had taken part in a number of activities including attending opposition rallies and assemblies such as BP Memorial Day,
National Reconciliation Memorial Day and election-boycotting movements to name a few. He was jailed many times and faced police brutality as well as threats from those who supported authoritarian rule. In April 1981, he was arrested and jailed in Butwal along with fellow activist Mr Gautam, while campaigning against the forthcoming national general election. In December 1982, trouble flared at a regional level general assembly of the Nepal Student Association, which was soon to be opened by the NC party's chief minister Girija Prasad Koirala. Armed police moved in with batons after an order was given by the Senior District Officer of Taulihawa. Hitan, Koirala and dozens of party members received serious injuries.
In July 1983, another incident occurred, this time in Butwal while BP Memorial Day was being organised by the NC. Hitan was arrested by police while posting pamphlets and in December 1983, he again faced police brutality while campaigning for National Reconciliation Memorial Day. Three months later, an attack took place in Kerwani, Rupandehi which left an unforgettable scar on Hitan's life. 300 party members including Girija Prasad Koirala had gathered at a meeting at Puspananda Giri's house. Suddenly, police arrived and charged people with batons, causing Hitan's close friend and active party member Yadavnath Alok to die from injuries sustained in the attack. Hitan himself was also seriously injured from in the incident. During a civil unrest in June 1985, he was again arrested along with other party members by police investigating an alleged bomb plot. While playing an active role on behalf of NC during the popular uprising in 1990, Hitan was arrested and jailed in Bhairahawa. He was freed 2 months later, on the day that King Birendra lifted restrictions on a multi-party system. The following day, the Chief Commander of the revolution Ganeshman Singh was proposed to become the Prime Minister of Nepal but instead Ganeshman offered the Premiership to the Chairman of the NC Party, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai. This came as a big surprise to Hitan, who had always pushed for the democratic rights and equal opportunities of ethnic and indigenous groups.
In 1992, a General Election was declared. Competition and lobbying within the party began for the allocation of tickets for the parliamentary candidacy. Marred by favouritism, cronyism and nepotism, many election tickets were distributed to those who had not actually been actively involved in the revolution. These practices demoralised members, including Hitan who had been highly committed to the party. In the aftermath of people's revolution in 1990, political parties who promoted ethnic peoples' rights began to sprout up across Nepal and in 1991, the Rastriya Janamukti Party was formed under the leadership of Gorebahadur Khapangi Magar. He was regarded as the voice of indigenous and ethnic groups, with membership predominantly coming from ex-servicemen and the indigenous and ethnic people of Nepal, many of whom were previously members of the NC and the Communist Party of Nepal—also known as the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML). Hitan was also asked to join but felt that he was unable to leave the NC due to his strong ideology and loyalty to the party. He instead promised to continue fighting within the NC for the rights and equality of the ethnic, Indigenous, Dalit and Muslim societies, and it is evident in his articles that he never hesitated to voice such issues. He used to campaign that the ruling party, Rastriya Prajatantra, should work together with small parties such as Sadbhawana, and Rastriya Janamukti in order to strengthen and promote parliamentary democracy.
NC won by a majority in the 1992 General Election. Girija Prasad Koirala became the Prime Minister and formed the NC led government. In recognition of all the hard work Hitan had put in over the years, GP Koirala appointed him as an executive member of Lumbini Development Fund (a body to oversee development of the site where Lord Buddha was born). Unfortunately, within a couple of years Koirala was hit by a revolt from his own MPs and had to face a vote of no-confidence. Predicting possible defeat, Koirala called a General Election in 1994. This caused strife within the NC with the main party leaders Ganeshman Sing, Krishna Prasad, and Koirala all having their own supporters. Young leaders also started voicing their concerns. Nevertheless, Hitan endeavoured to bring balance among the young and senior leaders. He supported Koirala during this unsettled period of time and was assigned to the party development campaign in his birthplace Gulmi and Rupandehi region. In the meantime, the MPs' candidacy tickets were distributed and election campaign kicked off. Yet again the MPs' tickets were given to the wealthy and those who promoted favouritism.
Unfortunately for Hitan's point of view, Nepalese citizens decided not to stand behind the NC this time which resulted in no party getting an absolute majority. The CPN-UML formed a coalition government with NC, although finger pointing, accusation and fierce criticism among the parties continued at an epidemic level. Formation of the full cabinet could not be achieved even months after the election, meaning the communist-led government could not continue. Consequently, in 1995 it too had to declare a mid-term general election. Hitan again objected to such an unsustainable move and expressed his concerns by publishing political articles in newspapers. Hitan continued to be an active member of the party by opposing the "wrong cultures" within it and attempting to guide it in the right direction. In 1996, the party tasked him with a campaign to promote public awareness. He spent two weeks with MP Shivaraj Joshi in Gorkha during this campaign.
Now in his late 40's, Hitan was beginning to recognize the contributions of the older generation leaders, such as Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, Girija Prasad Koirala, Ganeshman Sing, and Krishna Prasad Bhattari, who had led the 1960, 1980 and 1990 uprisings. He strongly supported the party leadership but also believed that control of the party should be transferred to the younger generations. Such stances are evident in his articles named "Responsibility of young generation" and "Appeal to youth on national building" in which he criticised the older leaders, challenging them to "provide employment and food or otherwise hand over the leadership".
Hitan's social campaigning largely related to three areas:
- Helping rural people to obtain governmental services
- Advocating equal opportunities and rights for Madhesi, Dalit, Indigenous Ethnic people, and ex-servicemen
- Preserving the language, culture and tradition of the Magar community, unearthing its lost history, and raising its awareness.
He believed that the public should be able to receive free governmental services fast and easily, which, ironically, was not the case in Nepal. Dishonesty, fraud and delays were wide spread in the government, with rural communities, the uneducated and the poor being the main groups disadvantaged by this corruption. The Tharu, Madhise, Dalit, and other indigenous ethnic people could not get jobs in the public services. In an attempt to right these injustices, Hitan would provide legal consultation, advice and guidance to help them to claim what they were entitled to. In this regard people considered him as a true leader.
Hitan believed that the country would not be able to develop comprehensively until the government provided full and equal opportunities and rights to all people, which included all the discriminated groups and that equal opportunity was impossible without the country being united. In 1980, he coordinated an assembly of Nepal Mangol Ethnic Groups in Bhairahawa. His colleagues Premsing Limbu from Sunsari, Leader of Mangol National Organisation Gopal Gurung, and Editor of Kongpi and Halchal weekly Ghal Rai, assisted him in this endeavour. This assembly is now considered a key step towards the foundation of today's Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).
Hitan is recognized as one of the first campaigners for the rights of indigenous ethnic people of Nepal. He helped to raise awareness of their plight by publishing numerous articles in local and national news papers and giving advice on how to establish these groups' rights and power in the authority. He took part in various seminars and assemblies of NEFIN, representing Rupandehi, his home region, and closely worked to establish General Secretary Suresh Ale Magar and other indigenous leaders including Gorebahadur Khapangi and Parasuram Tamang.
Hitan was well aware of the issues surrounding ex-Ghurkha soldiers. Exploitation of the Ghurkhas by political parties in Nepal was common and although he was not himself an ex-serviceman, he helped their organisations by taking advisory roles on their committees. While Sherbahadur Gurung was the Chairman of the Nepal Ex-Serviceman Association, Hitan keenly took a part in their activities and provided advice and guidance on their organisational development. He raised awareness within his NC peers and impressed on them that the ex-servicemen organisations must not be mistreated. In his articles he wrote about the ex-servicemen's contributions in the 1950s and 1960s revolutions in Nepal and that this should never be underestimated or forgotten.
The Nepal Magar Association
Hitan's most significant contribution relates to his work for the Magar community. He raised awareness that the Magar people across the country were underprivileged and that it was only possible to get out of this situation by being united and forming organized associations, which started dialogue between Magar leaders and intellectuals. After many years of consultation he helped form the Nepal Langhali Pariwar which later became the Nepal Magar Association (NMA). In 1971/72, he met Durgabahadur Rana and Kabiraj Pun at their homes in Palpa and Mangalapur, Butwal, respectively. In 1973, he travelled to Kathmandu, where he met with Nepalese Army Colonel Shreeprasad Budathoki and MP Bhimbahadur Budathoki. They discussed the prospect of forming an organisation to unite Magar. He followed up on this by arranging a seminar in Palpa involving Magar students and intellectual personalities, where they planned on forming Magar Association at the national level.
Hitan seemed to have started work on forming the Langhali Pariwar after being posted to Bhairahawa in 1975, when he began consultation with Magar residents and academics including Sherjang Thapa, Boond Rana, and Amar Bahadur Thapa. During this period, the government threatened to take action against those who voiced support for racial freedom and equal rights. Nevertheless, Hitan felt compelled to establish a national Magar organisation despite his position as a civil servant and played a key role towards the formation of Kanung Langhali Magarati Bhasa in June 1975. Amarbahadur Thapa and Boond Rana were appointed as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of its working committee. Unfortunately, because of his position in the government, Hitan was compelled to remain behind the scenes. Undeterred, he used his legal knowledge to help with the writing of the constitution of the newly formed organisation. Hitan also had a great interest in volunteering for his community but had little freedom to do so, also because of his status as a civil servant, as government officials were restricted from taking part in social and political activities. Following his resignation, though, he was able to volunteer freely in social campaigning as well as politics. In 1980, in partnership with Baburam Rana, Hitan conceived a road-map to form a Magar Reform Committee at each Magar village which laid out 20-point improvement plan. Some of these plans urged Magar communities to:
- Reduce spending on social, cultural and religious rituals,
- Minimize alcohol consumption,
- Preserve Magar language, culture, and costume, and
- Establish a fund to provide financial help and welfare.
Following the launch of this programme, Hitan spent time selling the idea to the Magar communities by making door to door calls to their homes. Later, these statements were adopted into the constitution of the NMA as the main objectives of the organisation.
Later in 1980, Kanung Langhali Magarati Bhasa was renamed as Kanung Langhali Pariwar Rupandehi. A new committee was selected which included Baburam Rana as Chairman, Manbir Garbuja as Treasurer, and Hitan as Secretary. The following year, Hitan played a major role in organising the very first assembly to be attended by all of the Magar communities throughout Nepal. A Nepal Langhali Pariwar Sangh acting Committee was formed at this historical assembly, which was held in Butwal.
In 1982, the Nepal Langhali Pariwar Sangh was officially established with Hitan selected as the Secretary of the organisation, a role which he held for two more terms. During and after these terms, Hitan continued working closely with national-level Magar leaders including:
- Hembahadur Pun,
- Suresh Ale,
- MS Thapa,
- Gorebahadur Khapangi,
- Dilipsing Ale,
- Durgabahadur Rana,
- Baburam Rana,
- Manbira Garbuja,
- Yambahadur Budathoki,
- Kesharajang Baral,
- and Dr Harshabahadur Budha.
By 1983, Hitan was playing a significant role in forming Magar organisations at district level. Realising that the social movement would not be successful without the contribution of the young generation, he proposed greater participations of the Magar youth and as a result of his thinking, Magar Student Associations were started started in colleges and universities across the country. Hitan lead this project himself in the Mid-west region of Nepal. He personally visited colleges in Rupandehi, Palpa, Gulmi, Arghakhachi, Nawalparasi, Kapilwastu, and Dang Deukhuri to meet with students and help them set up Magar Student Unions. As of 2014, there are Magar Student Associations in over 500 colleges and universities in approximately 65 districts of Nepal.
Though the Magar people had a proud history and rich culture, these positive aspects had long been hidden and were diminishing to the point where rediscovery and protection were necessary. Hence, in 1989, under Hitan's direction, a Magar Culture and History Council was established, with Hitan taking the role of Chairman. In the same year, the Magar Language and Script Council was formed under Kesherjang Baral's chairmanship. In the course of writing a book on the Magar History, Hitan studied several historical books about the Magars, visited Magar villages, and met with many elder Magars. However, he soon became ill and never managed to complete the book. Draft copies of his collections and hand written scripts were found amongst his private papers after he died.
Over the years, the NMA had expanded and increased its strength. The administration had largely been handed over to younger leaders, but much of the enthusiasm for these changes is attributed to the role that Hitan played in the early years of its founding. By this time, however, his physical health began rapidly deteriorating, meaning he could no longer play an active role. This was exemplified particularly during the period of Gore Bahadur Khapangi's chairmanship in 1997. Hitan was, however, appointed as an advisor to the NMA and was honoured in 2000, during the NMA's 7th National Grand Assembly in Dharan, with the Harka Award for his selflessness and lifelong contributions towards the Magar community.
Hitan was a soft-spoken gentleman who enjoyed travelling and meeting people. He enjoyed taking part in social meetings, political assemblies, and literary gatherings; staying home and carrying out household chores were not amongst his favourite things to do. He loved reading newspapers, magazines, and books on philosophy, politics, society, and current affairs and would take every opportunity that he could to get out into the rice terraces and hillside forests at his home village in the foothills of the Himalayas to read books. Lack of money never prevented him from buying something to read and he would even buy books on goodwill credit earned over the years from making door-to-door visits. He never liked earning merit by visiting the gods and goddesses in their temples; serving the community was at his heart.
When not out on political business or other official work, Hitan liked to lead a simple lifestyle: rising early, drinking much tea, and meeting up with friends to drink more tea. Evenings were often spent attending social or political meetings. If this was not the case, then he would likely be found at home studying or formulating strategies for progressing in his social and political activities. Hitan's friends mainly included social activists and campaigners, intellectuals, politicians, and other literati. He would often invite them home to have meetings or debates. He was always focused on community development and would frequently worry about national affairs. In contrast, he did not seem to have the same level of concern about his personal life and family. He had been living with his family in a rented room in Bhairahawa when he left his government job. Hitan's three sons went to school in their early years, but his bank account was frequently empty as a result of his unusual work, causing him to often be unable to pay their school fees. Despite this, Hitan continued being involved in social and political activities to the detriment of his family.
Hitan seemed to have the belief that giving too much care and love to his family would cause them to become spoiled; This could have been the reason why he never seemed to have time for his wife and sons. He never took his children on holiday, played with them, or helped them with their homework. Though it was very hard for him to find time to fulfill his fatherly responsibilities, Hitan would constantly go out of his way to help his close relatives promote unity among family members and provide advice in raising general awareness. He dreamed of his sons becoming either like himself or an officer in the Nepal Police or Nepal Army. He did not like the idea of them becoming British or Indian Ghurkha soldiers as, in his opinion, Ghurkha soldier recruitment was one of the major causes of indigenous nationals in Nepal being so disadvantaged.
Hitan also believed that ambition could only be achieved by dedication and hard work. He vowed that he would not to use any hair oil, smoke or drink until he completed his degree. He lived up to these self-imposed restrictions: only starting to do these after passing his final bachelor's degree exam in 1978. However, he became addicted to the Madhesi traditions of chewing betel and tobacco whilst living in Bhairahawa and developed a habit of drinking at home on his own rather than in the restaurants with friends.
Hitan, having a height of 1.7 meters, was not particularly tall. He would comb his black hair straight up and usually wore a white shirt, black waistcoat, black trousers and black shoes. In contrast, when attending formal events he would wear full Nepali national costume—Daura-Suruwal and Dhaka Topi. With his short hair, shaven face and healthy physique, he was described as having a dashing figure resembling a Lahure (a Ghurkha serviceman in the army).
Hitan enjoyed simple Nepalese food: rice, vegetables, dahl, and chutney, and seemed to have been obsessed with tea. It was not uncommon for him to have 6-8 cups a day and he would never decline if someone offered him more.
Hitan lived through poverty during his early life but fortunately, his financial situation improved in his final years despite receiving no retirement benefits in recognition of his service in the government and towards the NC party. Sadly, during his elder years, Hitan suffered both mentally and physically and was not able to enjoy this time. During Hitan's active years, there was a great deal of dishonesty, mistrust and dispute among NC party members caused by the greed of the people holding the higher positions of power. Hitan was very popular among working-class people and local level party members, but despite this he had missed potential opportunities of receiving political appointments which could have been attributed to not having a close relationship with any of the Central Party leaders. In an attempt to close this gap he had been living in Tikhedewal, Kathmandu since 1996, but there had been no stability or progression in the political environment in Nepal at the time. The Maoist Party had declared and fought a bloody campaign against the monarchy and other political parties which had also impacted negatively on Hitan's political life.
Additionally, the Magar community had also fallen victim to this political strife and disintegration which became apparent in the NMA. In Hitan's own family, life was far from ideal, as his relationship with his wife had been long been deteriorating. All of this turmoil combined likely was likely the cause of his declining mental health. In his old age, Hitan was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. Tragically, he suffered a stroke in December 1999. His wife Premkumari and some of his extended family took him to a teaching hospital in Kathmandu for treatment and his sons Bijay and Sanjay returned to Nepal from their international residences to be with him. Fortunately, Hitan's condition improved after about a month, though he never fully recovered. Walking became impossible and he lived the rest of his life with this disability. As a result, he was never again able to actively participate in political and social activities, a devastating prospect from his point of view. As his senescence continued, Hitan was taken to a variety of treatment centres throughout Nepal and India to see both medical doctors and others offering Ayurvedic, Chinese and other traditional treatments. Despite these treatments and care and love from his family, he remained house-bound and confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. After struggling with various illnesses for ten years, Hitan died at home in Milan Chock, Butwal, Nepal on 11 December 2009. He was 64 years old.
Hitan published a book titled Domestic policy and Democracy of Nepal in 1980. His eldest son, Bijay Hitan Magar, published a nook called Jaybahadur Hitan Magar—Biography and Deeds in 2014, which contains several of Hitan's articles on the indigenous people and politics of Nepal. It also includes other examples of Hitan's written work including song lyrics, poems, short stories and plays.
The Jaybahadur Hitan Magar Memorial Award
In 2014, the "Jaybahadur Hitan Magar Memorial Award" was founded by Hitan's family. Managed by the Jitbahadur Singjali Magar Literary Academy, a Rs 150,000 fund[dead link], the award was set up in Hitan's memory to give recognition to people and organisations that make significant contributions towards the Magar community. Recipients of the award are selected annually and receive Rs20,000.
- Biyaya, Hitan Magar (December 12, 2014). Jaya Bahadur Hitan Magar Byaktitwa Ra Krititwa (Biyaya Hitan Magar ed.). Nepal: Nepal Magar Association. ISBN 978-9937-2-8974-0. Search this book on
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