UDMF urged to call off Tarai protests

Kathmandu, October 10

The private sector has urged the agitating parties to call off the protests in the Tarai region, which has continued for nearly two months, as it has crippled the economy.

The umbrella organisations of the private sector — Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), Confederation of Nepalese Industry (CNI) and Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC) — jointly submitted a memorandum to Mahantha Thakur, convener of United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) today in this regard.

The industrial sector has been badly affected due to the protests as industries in the Tarai have been forced to shut down since the two months. Likewise, industries in other parts of the country have been facing shortage of raw materials and facing difficulties in supplying their products in the market. In recent days, the obstruction on movement of vehicles from India to Nepal has further hit both the industrial and consumption sectors, the memorandum read.

“Industrialists and business people will not be able to pay salaries to their staff, and repay loan to the banks and there will be no other option left than to close the factories and other businesses if the protests continue,” Pashupati Murarka, president of FNCCI, said during the meeting with Thakur. He also requested the agitating parties to adopt peaceful means of protests to get their demands fulfilled without affecting business environment of the country.

“The private sector and common people are most affected in all kinds of political protests as parties have increasingly resorted to calling strikes and bandhs as a powerful tool for political gain,” Murarka said. “For an economy that was still reeling under the adverse impacts of the devastating earthquake and powerful aftershocks of April and May, the prolonged protests since mid-August has further pushed the country to the brink of an economic crisis.”

Moreover, CNI President Narendra Basnyat and NCC President Rajesh Kazi Shrestha requested the agitating UDMF to call off the protests at least until the end of Chhath festival so that people in the country are able to celebrate the festivals. The private sector representatives also reminded that both the government and agitating forces have to show accountability towards people and the country.

The private sector organisations had also submitted a joint memorandum to the prime minister last week and urged him to take the initiative to end the dispute with the agitating parties.

Receiving the memorandum today, Thakur said the ball was in the court of the government in how the situation pans out. “How can we fulfil your request when we ourselves are fighting for the rights of Madhesi people?” questioned Thakur. He also requested the private sector to put pressure on the government to accept the demands of the agitating parties and resolve the issue at the earliest.