POKHARA, Feb3: Chandra Kant Poudel, a long-time newspaper vendor in Pokhara, who was popularly known as “Gorkhapatra Baje”, was found dead on Sunday. He was 80.
According to Kaski police, the body of the popular newspaper vendor was found in a canal near Matepani in Pokhara-13. Poudel had been missing since Sunday morning. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shyam Krishna Adhikari confirmed that police have recovered Poudel´s dead body. DSP Adhikari said that the body has been sent to western regional hospital for autopsy.
Although investigation into the incident is under way, police have suspected that Poudel might have committed suicide. “We have learnt that he was not in good health lately. Our preliminary investigation shows he might have committed suicide,” said Adhikari. Family members had started looking for Poudel after they did not find Poudel, who had gone to bed after supper on Saturday night, at home on Sunday.
“At first we thought he might have gone out for a walk. But when he did not return home, we informed the police,” said Poudel´s son Shiva. According to Shiva, Poudel used to wake up early in the morning and reach his shop by 7 AM in the morning. Shiva also informed that Poudel had been suffering from fever.
“On Saturday night, he had complained of cold due to the fever and went to bed,” said Shiva.
Poudel walked the pavements of Pokhara in the wee hours carrying newspapers. Poudel had started selling newspapers since he was 29 years old in 1960. A decade after working as a newspaper vendor, locals had started calling him “Gorkhapatra Baje”, as Gorkhapatra was the only national daily available then.
“People started calling me with that name in the mid seventies. Selling Gorkhapatra gave me a new identity,” Poudel had told Republica in an interview some time ago. Before his death, Poudel had been selling all the broadsheet dailies, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly newspapers and magazines. Poudel strongly believed in democracy.
Badri Binod Pratik, senior journalist and president of the Kaski chapter of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), recalled that Poudel had stopped selling newspapers to protest against then autocratic Panchayat regime. Pratik also said that Poudel has greatly helped the people of Pokhara develop the habit of reading newspapers.
He was also honored by many media awards. He was also the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award-2065(BS) provided by Pokhara-based Annapurna Radio.