As I am writing these lines, about 50 buses (one of them in the photo above) full of school children in uniform are being rushed toward the city center of Kathmandu. The students inside and at the top of the buses are screaming and, for me, the sound resembles to that of a woman being raped by a murderous gang. No wonder, these students are being taken to the inauguration ceremony of general convention of the Maoist student union: All Nepal National Independent Students Union (ANNISU). The scene is simply horrific and I fear possible death of the students falling from the top of the running bus. I am also deeply saddened by the fact that these students are being forced to leave their classes. Their parents sent them school in uniform hoping that they would learn something in classrooms and here they are: forced to take part in a conference of a political organization that, it seems, has very less to do with student welfare. “The main agenda of the convention is political,” I recall what the chairman of ANNISU Lekhnath Neupane said yesterday.
I talked to a student (pic, above) from Bode Secondary School, Bhaktapur who was being ferried in a vehicle that belonged to Khopwa Engineering College. “We want complete change in society,” the grade 8 student said. “That is why I am going to take part in the convention today.”
“So you are Akhil Krantikari (ANNISU), right?” I asked.
He gave a though for a few seconds and replied, “Well, yes. I am.”
“Then you are a Maoist, right?”
“Well, not really,” he replied quickly. “Then gave a serious though as if he was thinking, ‘Oh..my God, am I going to a Maoist conference?’ “I am not a Maoist. I am going because waha dai le jau bhannu bhayo.[This brother told me to go.]”
As I was talking to the kid, the “brother” (pic, below) came to intervene.
“Are you from the press?” he wanted to know.
“Well, yes.” I wasn’t talking to the boy as a reporter. Everyone has the right to talk to another people on the street, I thought. And I tried to ignore the man.
“Actually, we brought these students with the consent of the principal of the school. We have told him that we will take them back by 4 PM.”
Some of the students were excited, I could feel. But at this age, who would not feel excited to bunk classes. But is it okay to use the students in such activities? I see no difference in recruiting underage kids in army and forcing them to take part in these types of political activities. And this is not new in Nepal. In the royal regime, students were used to stand in queues to welcome an autocratic monarch returning from his foreign adventure. Another student organization affiliated to CPN UML is also holding its conference in another city and I am sure they are also doing the same. Several colleges are being shut down for the day because of the conference and the traffic in the city is standstill. Vehicles of difference colleges are being used for the political purpose. It is high time that students, at least school students, kept away from politics. This “raping” of education sector must be stopped.