Kathmandu: A small group of criminals set a passenger bus on fire at the Manohara bridge early in the morning today (around 4:30 am). The bus was coming out from a garage in Balkot, Bhaktapur, to ply on the Nepal Yatayat route, according to my colleague Makar Shrestha who reached at the stop some 15 minutes after the incident. There are two Nepal Yatayat services- one begins from a planned settlement three kilometers away known locally as Town Planning near Old Sinamangal which itself is referred to as Pepsi Cola because the place hosts the factory of the cold drink major. The other begins from near Koteshwor. I am a daily passenger of the first Nepal Yatayat service. By the time I took this photo the bus had already been taken to Koteshwor traffic police post. Seemed to me that the engine hasn’t been destroyed.
I heard that some vandals attacked a van belonging to Kantipur TV. The attackers identified themselves as the activists of a fringe group called Chure Bhanwar Rastriya Ekata Party (presided by Himalayabhakta Pradhananga), according to a report in eKantipur.com.
This is the first instance of a bus being attacked in Kathmandu valley during banda (general strike) in many months. Today’s strike is called by a Hindu group that seeks to restore Nepal’s status as the world’s only Hindu country. But it seems they are not the only groups that have called banda today because Chure Bhanwar group has also claimed the ownership of the strike. Various outfits calling themselves Chhetri Samaj (a group of Chhetri communities) had also called for strike today only to take back that, according a TV network, yesterday. –by DW
When Maoists provided musical and celebratory feel to their protest gatherings, the former rebels were not innovating a protest tactic. Their innovation, so to speak, was to push thousands of villagers to Kathmandu valley with the party bearing the cost of travel and living. Interviews with a few such people revealed that not all of them were Maoist supporters or excited about the free jaunt. Some were forced to leave their homes for Kathmandu in the midst of agricultural activities. The Maoist-sponsored city tour of the villagers may not have immensely contributed to their agitation against the Madhav Nepal-led government but that surely brought our poverty on surface for the world to see. The rural folks came with their chafed hands that told the story of suffering and lowly life that they had been living in the hills. The arrival of these folks, without shoes and proper clothing, also revived the city versus village debate at tea-shops of Kathmandu. “Everything’s centered in the city,” I overheard a villager telling to city folks at a tea-shop in Tinkune. “It’s high time the city heard our story, understood our plight.” Continue reading Why the Maoist Strike Failed→
On a balmy morning Monday, the Maoist protesters clogged the main intersection at Koteshwar, Kathmandu, singing and dancing in the ‘revolutionary songs’.
Helmeted battalions of policemen in riot gear were mere bystanders. Kirant Rajya Samiti of Maoists was responsible for overseeing the protests in Koteshwar area, one of 18 such points where Maoist staged protests. Hence, most of the protesters here were from eastern hills of Nepal. Maoist supporters came from districts such as Ramechhap, Khotang, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga. Most of the supporters are brought from far flung areas while a few arrived from surrounding districts (but mostly from rural areas). Some were even forced to participate.
Meet Suresh Rai, a 30-year-old member of Kirant State Secretariat. He along with one hundred fifty Maoist supporters arrived in the capital five days back. “We came in 2-3 groups,” he says. “We’ll continue to protest as long as people will support us.” Hailing from a family of farmers, Suresh says it’s tough for them in the hills to feed the hungry bellies of 7 members of his family.
As we speak, music blares from the huge sound boxes–there’s a makeshift stage built on a truck. Incessant singing and dancing is going on. In between, there are poetry recitations. Flags with hammer and sickle are waved, YCL, the notorious youth outfit of Maoists has a distinct air about them: bandana in their heads, some covering the entire body with the flags.
They’ve been sheltered in several places in Kathmandu Valley ranging from the party palaces and under construction buildings to Nepal Law Campus, Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, Rastriya Sabha Grisha in the city center.
This has turned out like rural Nepal meeting urban Nepal as most of the village folks have arrived in capital Kathmandu for the first time.
But it’s only natural because Maoists have drawn support largely from marginalized communities such as Dalits (so-called untouchables), janajatis (the ethnic people), Madhesis (the people from plains), among others.
Dil Bahadur Bika, a Dalit from Phulbari village of Okhaldhunga, has come to Kathmandu for the first time. In the village, he runs a grocery store (that also sells cosmetics). But as a sole breadwinner of the family, he had to close it because there’s no one to look after. The 35-year-old, a YCL member, is living with other Maoists in a party palace in Kaushaltar, two kilometer north from Koteshwar.
The protesters’ routine goes thus: they leave for the strike at 6 pm. The lunch time will be from 9 am to 11 am. They observe strict discipline while attending the strike. They stay in the one of 18 points till 3 pm. At 3 pm, they participate in the rally. The evening is the time for torch rally. They finally return home after 6pm. Another cycle of strike and they repeat the routine.
Back to the Koteshwar: A song that is tinged with revolutionary fervor blares from the speakers and Dil Bahadur Bika pirouettes in its music. The song goes:
The normal life in the Kathmandu Valley [and across Nepal] has been hit hard on the first day of the indefinite general shutdown imposed by the Unified CPN (Maoist) on Sunday demanding resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.
Did you know that at least five different organizations and groups had separately called the banda (strike) today in Kathmandu ? Well, that could be more or less by a group of two but just a quick reminder: there was strike in Kathmandu yesterday as well called by more than one group. Then there was severe traffic disturbance in certain parts of Kathmandu the day before yesterday.
Today: Public transport in the Bagmati zone came to a grinding halt on Sunday, the second day of the indefinite vehicle strike called by transport entrepreneurs who have rejected the government’s 25 percent increase in transport fares calling it insufficient.No public vehicles were seen plying the roads in Lalitpur, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur districts. Long-distance transportation has also been affected due to the strike in the capital.
At least four strikes – Valley and Nepal bandas — in a month and many more in the making. As if the rest of the country felt left out in the Valley-only transport strike yesterday called by student unions and transporters’ unions. Starting today, the entire country could be hit by chakka jams and road obstructions if transport entrepreneurs have their way and the law continues to look the other way. The transporters and students will have additional company beginning today- petroleum dealers and petro-product carriers, all of them contributing in their own ways to make life more difficult for the man in the street. Besides, eight student unions affiliated to political parties and transport unions like the Federation of National Transport Entrepreneurs (FNTE), Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association (NPDA) and Federation of Nepal Petroleum Supply Entrepreneurs (NPSE) will also join the fray today. Continue reading Strike Oh Strike: What A Plague Upon Us→