Kathmandu, June 16
Buckling under pressure on the controversial Guthi Bill, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today said the government would revise it if there were any shortcomings in the bill. Oli made the statement at Tribhuvan International Airport upon arrival from his nine-day visit to European countries.
However, the agitating locals and guthi operators are not convinced by the PM’s assurance and have decided to launch fiercer protests to force the government to withdraw the bill from the Parliament.
Stakeholders have been protesting against the provisions of the bill ever since the government registered the controversial bill in the upper house of the Parliament. Protesters say the bill is an attack on people’s culture and tradition and is aimed at serving the interests of land mafia.
“If any flawed provisions were incorporated in the Guthi Bill knowingly or unknowingly and if that can adversely impact our culture, heritage, festivals, tradition and religion, then the government will revise the bill to drop those provisions,” the PM said.
The PM, however, said there was exploitation in the name of guthis in some parts of the country.
Oli tried to assuage the fear of the locals but took a potshot at opposition parties supporting the protests. “The government wants to make people happy. The government does not want to antagonise people,” he said and added that if anybody wanted to cash in on the people’s sentiment, then they would not get any chance to do that.
Despite the PM’s statement today, Newars of Kathmandu valley and adjoining settlements continued their protests. Basantapur locals continued their protest by playing traditional musical instruments during their march. Hundreds of people in Panauti and Dhulikhel of Kavre also took to the streets. Locals of Thimi and Bhaktapur held torch rallies this evening calling for the withdrawal of the Guthi Bill.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Yogesh Bhattarai, urged the PM to hold the bill. Bhattarai tweeted, “…It is better to hold the bill and start a fresh debate on the issue.”
The main opposition Nepal Congress also organised a protest rally in the capital.
A version of this article appears in print on June 17, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.