Kanchanpur: In a small town in Kanchanpur, Nepal, the air is thick with anxiety as the parents of Bipin Joshi endure an agonizing 52 days of waiting. Bipin is one of the Nepali students who fell victim to the Hamas-led Palestinian militants’ October 7 attack in southern Israel.
The surprise attack unfolded as Hamas militants launched a multi-pronged invasion of southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. The onslaught included a barrage of rockets, with around 3,000 militants breaching the Gaza–Israel barrier. The attackers targeted Israeli military bases and civilian population centers, resulting in a devastating toll – at least 846 Israeli civilians and 324 soldiers and police lost their lives. Ten Nepali students, including Bipin, were among the casualties.
Since that fateful day, Bipin’s parents have been glued to their television screens, grasping for any news related to the ongoing conflict. Their hope was rekindled when Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day ceasefire on November 24, mediated by Qatar. The ceasefire, which included the exchange of hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, brought a fragile respite.
Groups of hostages have been released in increments, offering a glimmer of hope to the families awaiting the return of their loved ones.
On a recent Sunday, 40 Israelis were among those released by Hamas. Simultaneously, 17 Thai citizens and one Filipino, farmworkers seized in southern Israel during the attack, were freed under a separate agreement.
The ceasefire, initially set for four days, was extended by an additional two days, stretching until Wednesday. However, for Bipin’s parents, the days seem endless as there is no news about their son’s fate. The uncertainty has intensified their anxiety, overshadowing the relief experienced by other families.
In a desperate plea for help, Bipin’s parents sought the assistance of Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Prakash Saud. Meeting with the minister, who was in his home district of Kanchanpur on Wednesday, they implored him to take immediate action for their son’s safe release.
“I am glued to the TV news all the time in the hope that my son Bipin will be released and call us. Our days are spent watching news,” expressed Padma, Bipin’s distraught mother.
While the government claims to be making diplomatic initiatives through various channels to secure Bipin’s release, Mahananda, Bipin’s father, believes that more vigorous efforts should have been made from the beginning.
“I feel that Bipin would have already been released two or three days back had the government made vigorous efforts towards that end from the beginning,” Mahananda said, desperation evident in his voice.
In response to the concerned parents, Minister Saud pledged to intensify government-level efforts to ensure Bipin’s release. As a part of these efforts, Minister Saud is scheduled to visit Qatar on December 9. During his visit, he plans to request Qatari officials to take special initiatives for Bipin’s release.
This follows the Minister’s earlier interaction with Qatar’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, who assured prompt initiatives for Bipin’s release during his official visit on November 23.
In Qatar, Minister Saud will not only advocate for Bipin’s release but will also attend the 21st edition of the Doha Forum commencing on December 10.
As the world watches the delicate diplomatic dance unfold, the fate of Bipin Joshi hangs in the balance, leaving his parents and the community of Kanchanpur in a painful limbo of uncertainty.