Kathmandu, June 10
Nepali Congress lawmakers stalled proceedings in both Houses of the Parliament today in protest against use of force against those who protested against the Guthi (Trust) Bill yesterday.
As soon as the House of Representatives meeting was convened today at around 11:30am, NC lawmakers rose from their chairs, demanding Home Minster Ram Bahadur Thapa’s answer on why the police used force against ‘peaceful protesters’ yesterday at Maitighar Mandala.
Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara then gave time to NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand to put forth his views on the issue.
Khand told the House that protesters had demonstrated peacefully against some provisions of the Guthi Bill yesterday, but the police unjustifiably used force against them. “If this Guthi Bill is enacted into law, it will destroy the sanatan (eternal) traditions in Nepal,” Khand said and added that the government that sprinkled holy wine and wore caps of the universities involved in religious conversion, was now trying to spoil sanatan religion in the country.
Khand used the holy wine reference to remind the public that the government had provided platform in Kathmandu to South Korea-based Universal Peace Federation, which was accused of promoting Christianity in the garb of peace and humanity.
Minister of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Padma Aryal responded to the NC chief whip’s concerns, saying the bill incorporated new provisions to address guthi related issues in a changed context. She, however, said that the bill did not violate any constitutional provision.
Whip of Nepali Congress in the HoR Pushpa Bhusal said that guthi system had been in existence since Licchhavi era and the government should have brought the bill only after consulting guthi operators.
After Bhusal finished her speech, Speaker Mahara repeatedly asked NC lawmakers to be seated but NC lawmakers continued to obstruct House proceedings, forcing the speaker to postpone the House meeting till 11:00am tomorrow.
Government sources said Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa failed to respond to NC lawmakers in the HoR today due to his busy schedule. The HoR was supposed to discuss ministry-wise allocation of budget today.
Meanwhile, a meeting of the National Assembly was postponed twice in the morning today due to House obstruction by NC lawmakers. Chairperson of NA Ganesh Prasad Timilsina convened the meeting of the House at around 4:00pm today and in this meeting NC lawmakers ended their obstruction after Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa gave a statement of urgent public importance on use of force against protesters at Maitighar Mandala.
Thapa said police went by the book yesterday to use force against protesters at Maitighar Mandala as protesters obstructed movement of people and vehicles at Maitighar Mandala and started pelting stones at police.
“Police had no option but to use force against unruly protesters who threw stones at the police and vehicles,” Thapa said and added that protesters did not abide by the principles of peaceful protest.
Thapa said he was sad that some police personnel and protesters were injured yesterday during the incident.
He also said that Kathmandu police were investigating yesterday’s incident and the government was ready to take action against those found guilty of any wrongdoing. The NA continued its debate on ministry-wise allocation of budget.
A version of this article appears in print on June 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.