Sushil Koirala's death sparks 'controversy' in Nepali media

Kathmandu: The sudden and unexpected death of former prime minister Sushil Koirala earlier this week has sparked a controversy in Nepal, giving rise to questions in the media like why his illness was kept in the dark and why was he not taken to a hospital for treatment.

Nepal's major dailies on Thursday -- a day after Koirala, 76, was cremated with state honours on the bank of the holy Bagmati river -- raised several questions related to his death and dragged Koirala's personal doctor and aides in the controversy.

Koirala had undergone radiotherapy for lung cancer in 2014 and surgery for tongue cancer 10 years ago in the US. He died on Tuesday due to pneumonia.

Koirala was a bachelor and used to live with Shashank Koirala, a close relative. He was looked after by his niece and other family members.

Hours before his death on Monday night, Koirala collapsed in the bathroom, writes Nepal's major national daily, Kantipur, raising questions like why was he not taken to hospital.

There was a small wound on his forehead which was covered by sandalwood paste but his aides and doctor claimed that Koirala collapsed on Saturday not Monday, the daily wrote.

Doctors, politicians, activists, journalists and other social network users have raised doubts over Koirala's death and termed it sheer negligence, the Nepali language daily said.

Koirala was also under pressure due to the upcoming 13th general convention of the party, Kantipur wrote.

To elect the new leadership, the party held local elections across Nepal and Koirala was looking forward to a second term but he was challenged by aspirants from the Koirala family itself and party vice president Ram Chandra Poudel.

At least three hospitals are located within one-km-radius of Koirala's residence but none of his aides and doctors felt the need to take him to any for a check-up, the daily wrote.

Different kinds of statements made by his private doctor and his aides also added fuel to the controversy.

The first photo released after his death by the Nepali Congress -- whose president Koirala was -- clearly shows that there was something wrong with his forehead and there was a blood spot on the white cloth that covered his body.

Why was he not taken to a hospital when he was suffering from an illness, asked another Nepali language daily Naya Patrika.

Koirala was consuming sleeping tablets without a doctor's prescription after he complained of sleeplessness prior to his death.

His private doctor Karbir Nath Yogi had earlier said that it is extremely harmful for people with lung problem to consume sleeping tablets and had stopped prescribing sedatives to Koirala.

His face was swollen and his health condition was eroding on Monday, the daily added.

Another report, in the English daily The Kathmandu Post titled "Was Koirala's illness kept in dark?", also raised the question of political expediency.

"Koirala's illness was concealed by his aides who wanted to showcase him as a healthy figure for their own benefit in the convention," contended Nepali Congress lawmaker Ram Hari Khatiwada.

Close aides of the former prime minister knew about the seriousness of his illness but recklessly endangered his health in the hope that it would not be fatal before the convention, The Kathmandu Post reported citing Khatiwada.

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