HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
DIPAYAL: Criminal activities are reportedly increasing in the hilly highway of the Far-western region owing to frequent bandhs, police said.
According to a source, an unidentified group has been taking vehicles to secluded places in the name of escorting passengers and making them cough up money. Some gangs even took money from people who were walking to their destinations on foot.
Businessmen and hoteliers along Attariya-Dadeldhura road section have been reported to be overcharging customers.
Though the agitation of intact Far-West has stopped, the struggle committee comprising Brahmin, Chhetri has again called bandh in the region.
Dipayal coordinator of Intact Far-West Struggle Committee Lokendra Shahi said an organised group might have been active in fleecing passengers to defame the agitators.
Durga Panta, Far West Transportation Entrepreneurs, confirmed that vehicles were forced to pay money to different groups on the way.
Bikram Kunwar of Darna Accham, who reached Accham from Dhangadi with the permission of agitators to meet his sick relative, said,’’ I paid Rs 2,000 to different groups to arrive in Accham.’’
He said hooligans in the area are still active due to the continuous bandh.
“Hoteliers charge three times more than the regular price for food items,’’ Sher Bahadur Bhul, a passenger said, adding,’’ It took me six days to reach Dipayal from Mahendranagar.’’
Birendra Shah, chairman, Doti Chamber of Commerce and Industries, admitted that black marketing is rife in some places with traders taking advantage of the prolonged bandh. Some entrepreneurs are faking scarcity. We have already warned entrepreneurs and will take action if anyone is found guilty, he said.
However, Doti DSP Bharat Bohara said, nobody had lodged complaint about groups fleecing money from vehicles and black marketing.
He said police have increased patrolling to prevent looting and criminal activities on the highway.