The date is July 27, 1986. The cook and a watchman from the neighborhood arrive at the Mela Ground, where the protesters are meant to gather. They will then march to the police station and burn the Indo-Nepal Treaty of 1950. The watchman hopes the protest will be done within the hour.
The culmination of the Nepali protests centers on burning a treaty that Nepalis criticized as a breach of Nepal’s sovereignty, which is apt as the movement centers on the idea that the Nepali people in Kalimpong should be granted political sovereignty in a state of their own.
All is going according to plan, until a volley of stones and rocks come down from behind the post office. It is unclear who is throwing them. In response to this attack, the crowd begins to throw stones at the police. The police pick up the rocks and return them. A rumor spreads that there are men among the protesters with guns. The police begin to open fire. The marchers scatter and some are quickly gunned down. Thirteen local boys are killed.
Regardless of who is throwing the stones and for what reasons, it is clear that it causes a severe power imbalance as many innocent people—particularly young boys—are killed when the police open fire. What is particularly heartbreaking is that (like with the beating of the drunken man earlier) they seem to commit these acts simply because they can, rather than to carry out justice or because they fear for their lives.
Some marchers turn back and pull the guns from the policemen’s hands. The police quickly become outnumbered. One policeman is stabbed to death; another’s arms are chopped off. Their heads begin to be mounted on stakes. A beheaded body runs briefly down the street, defecating on itself.
This image of the beheaded body defecating on itself puts power and humiliation at opposite ends of a spectrum of agency: that in the most powerless of positions, a body also undergoes one final act of humiliation.
Other policemen run back to the station, but their colleagues have locked the doors. Chased by the mob, the police run to private homes for shelter. The police begin to bang on Lola and Noni’s door. They are desperate to get in, but the sisters refuse them.
When the policemen lose their guns, the tables are turned. Lola and Noni still have power in having a home, and the police are humiliated in being forced to beg for protection from women they had previously ignored.
Everyone is running, including the cook. He gets some distance up the road before feeling his legs collapse under him. The cook can see fires burning below him, men scattering, and pools of blood collecting in the street. He cries, feeling a complete loss of safety in his home town, where only days before he had believed completely that the town had room for everyone. He feels as though he no longer belongs, and questions whether Biju really exists.
What is perhaps most tragic about the incident was that it sprang from the Nepalis’ desire to make Kalimpong feel more welcoming and more equal for them. But in protesting, they prevent the town from feeling like a home for anybody, as violence and anarchy seep into the town’s atmosphere.