Speedy end to Indrajatra fuels more protests

Kathmandu, Sept 22:

The inner parts of the capital city remained tense throughout the day today as people from the agitating Newar community protested the hasty winding up of the Indrajatra festival by the government late last night.

The protesters said that the government mobilised Nepal Army’s crane to bring down the Lingo, bringing the celebrations to a formal end, shortly after reaching a five-point agreement with the agitators at the Ministry of Finance last night.

“This is unacceptable to us as several rituals were skipped in the rush to wind up the festival,” Raja Shakya, a local, told this daily. “We demand that the government issue an apology before it’s too late,” another local Rabi Ranjit said.

Late this evening, the protesters took out a torch rally that passed through the core

Newar settlements — Yatkha, Naradevi, Chhetrapati and Paknajol, among others. Later, Raja Shakya led a donation campaign, raising one rupee from each individual.

“Our plan is to raise Rs 15,001 and hand it over to the Finance Minister for trying to humiliate us by infringing our cultural rights,” Shakya said. “Today, we raised around Rs 4,000.” The participants of the campaign chanted slogans calling for unity among Newars and the residents of Kathmandu to stand up against the government.

“People took to the streets against the government today demanding that the agreements reached yesterday be made clear to them,” said Manoj Newa, president of Khadgi Sewa Samiti.

Khadgi also said some 16 agitators, who were arrested earlier in the day, were released later in the evening. The government should sit for talks again with the groups excluded during yesterday’s talks, he said.

In a statement issued today, vice president of Nepa Rastriya Party Naresh Bir Shakya said six Newar groups were left out of the negotiation yesterday. “The government’s decision to cut down on the expenditures of the tradition only proves that the Maoists are determined to impose ‘cultural revolution’ on the people of Kathmandu,” he added.