Lakhan Thapa: 6 things you should know about Nepal’s first martyr

A portrait of Lakhan Thapa. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Today is the National Martyrs Day. It has been several decades since the nation has been commemorating this day, keeping four martyrs killed in 1941 at the centre.

However, there are thousands of martyrs in Nepal. Of them, Lakhan Thapa is considered the first. However, he is not known as much as the four martyrs.

So, what can be the best time than this to know about the first martyr of Nepal, Lakhan Thapa. and honour him?

Here are six things that every Nepali should know about him:

1. Lakhan Thapa was born in Gorkha but raised in India

The full name of Lakhan Thapa is said to be Lakhan Thapa Magar. However, this was not his real name. A younger one between the twin brothers, he was named Lakshman Singh Thapa at birth. 

He was born in 1835 in Kahule Bhangar village located at Bungkot, Gorkha. Now, the very place is named after Thapa’s name as Shahid Lakhan rural municipality.

Lakhan Thapa completed his formal education staying in the family quarters of a relative working in the 3rd Gurkha Rifles in Almora, India. 

2. Lakhan Thapa served in the army

After completing his study, he returned to Nepal in 1854 and joined Old Gorkha Paltan. Thapa had gone to Lucknow Prime Minister Junga Bahadur Rana and 9,000 members of the Old Gorkha Paltan after the Indo-British government sought military assistance. He was a part of the Nepali soldiers who assisted the British Army to brutally suppress Indian rebels who were fighting for the independence of India. This was around 1857/58 after the Meerut massacre which gave birth to a military revolution against the British colony in India.

3. Suppression turned him rebel from an army man

All of these incidents led Lakhan Thapa Magar and other revolutionaries to fight against the tyrannical rule of Junga Bahadur Rana in Nepal also. By 1868/69 (1925 BS), Thapa had already been promoted as the captain of the Nepal Army. However, he left his job along with his friend Jai Singh Chumi Magar in order to unite the people against the rule of Jung Bahadur Rana.

With the help of the local people of his birthplace, Thapa built a strong fort there and also built a temple inside the fort. He used to unite the people coming there to worship and make them aware of the arbitrary rule of Junga Bahadur Rana and his anti-public acts. 

4. He had launched an armed struggle against the government

As per the historian Padam Jung Rana, Thapa had gathered 1,500 people along with weapons and supplies to attack the Rana government. He wanted to end the rule of the Junga Bahadur Rana and to establish democracy in the country.

But, Junga Bahadur Rana got the information of the revolution led by Thapa. Subsequently, Lakhan Thapa and his associates were arrested from Bungkot and brought to Kathmandu. They were tortured all along their way. 

5. He was killed in front of Manakamana temple

And, it was decided that Lakhan Thapa and his associates would be hanged from the tree in front of the Manakamana temple of their fort premises in the presence of the local people at Bungkot, Gorkha. They were charged with treason.

After they did not beg a pardon in front of the Rana government, they were all brought to Gorkha. And, at first, the leader Lakhan Thapa was hanged from the tree in front of Manakamana temple inside his fort on February 14, 1877. It is also said that he has been skinned and hanged. And, after him, all other rebels were hanged.

6. He was declared martyr in 1999

He was the first Nepali to protest against the tyrannical Rana rule. Therefore, he was declared a martyr in 1999 by the Nepal government. And, the government declared him as the first martyr of Nepal on September 20, 2015.

This information was collected from the website of Shahid Lakhan rural municipality office.

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