KATHMANDU: Lakheys were dancing. People were playing dhime and swaying their bodies to the tune. They were chanting and walking united.
Thousands of people gathered yesterday at Maitighar Mandala demanding the government to scrap the controversial Guthi Bill, in a peaceful rally which looked more like a cultural fest, one of its kind.
The Guthi Bill against which people from the Newar community, along with others, have been protesting for two weeks was withdrawn by the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives, and Poverty Alleviation on June 18.
However, doubting the intention of the government and seeing the possibility that it might be presented in the parliament again, Kathmandu denizens came out into the streets calling for scrapping of the bill.
“Lawmakers should respect the diversity of our country. They have to leave their ingrained biases and treat every culture equally,” said Pabitra Kasa, Secretary of Nepal Lipi Guthi, Jyatha. Kasa added that the government should rather act as a watchdog to make sure that the guthis are functioning efficiently but they should not interfere and take the rights of guthiyars as it will bring threaten the culture of Nepali people.
Archana Maharjan, a member of Naya Bazaar Yuva Organisation echoed the same views. “If guthi is gone, our identity will be gone too. Scrap the bill and make a new one by involving the locals, stakeholders, guthiyars, and experts,” said Maharjan.
Dhiraj Khatri, a student from Kadaghari conveyed that every Nepali should be inquisitive about this bill. “The guthis were in existence even before our country was formed. It is the duty of every Nepali to protect their identity which guthis have been preserving,” shared agitated Khatri who demanded a permanent termination of the bill.
“From birth to death, guthi plays a key role in everyone’s life. The government should scrap this bill as it devalues guthi,” shared Temdi Sherpa, Chairman of Sanghiya Sherpa Sangh. Calling for a complete change in the bill, Sherpa was of the opinion that the government should understand the value of guthi and make a new bill respecting the sentiments of the people.
Meanwhile, the protestors who were chanting various slogans also made sure that the protest was held in an organised and responsible manner. The volunteers were deployed to pick-up and dispose of the waste generated during the protest, immediately. Drinking water services were also available for the people protesting in the heat.
The protestors were also found dancing and chanting the slogans in Nepal Bhasa to showcase their love for their culture.
“This is not only a protest. This is a way through which we want the government to know how much we love our culture,” said Binod Awale from Patan who was also a part of the protest. “A few years ago, they brought a bill which was of a similar nature. They have done that again. We need to make sure that the bill gets scrapped to aware lawmakers that they cannot pass any kind of arbitrary laws,” Awale added.
The bill has been in the news for some weeks now as the critics believe that the government is disdaining the significance of guthis by converting all of the private guthis into public property and ending the role of current trustees.