Youth activist’s fast-unto-death enters ninth day, government indifferent

Kathmandu, July 26

The government has turned a deaf ear to the demands of a young activist, who has been staging fast-unto-death strike for the last nine days in Basantapur, Kathmandu.

Iih, 26, an activist of the ‘Enough is Enough’ movement has been demanding effective handling of the coronavirus by the government.

This is the second time he has been staging the hunger strike. Earlier, Iih and Pukar Bam, 30, had on July 7, ended their hunger strike on the 12th day, after the Ministry of Health and Population agreed to fulfil their major demands about measures to be adopted while fighting the highly contagious virus.

The activists and government had agreed a 12-point agreement, where the government had pledged to scrap the RDT test, increase PCR tests and release people from quarantine only after ensuring that a person had not contracted the virus, through PCR test. The government had also agreed to increase the PCR test of health workers, who are on the frontline in the fight against the COVID-19 and draft new regulation about COVID-19 handling methods.

The agreement was to be implemented within a week.

The activists waited for 12 days, but since the government authorities showed no sign of implementing the agreement, Iih started the hunger strike for the second time.

“There was no option left than to stage a hunger strike as the government did not care at all about our plea,” activist Bam said.

He said that none of the agreements reached with them have been implemented properly. “To make matters worse, the government has reduced PCR tests.”

The government however has been saying that almost all the demands except drafting new testing guidelines have been met. Dr Sameer Adhikari, who signed the 12-point agreement on behalf of the government said, “We are working to change the operational guideline. Apart from that, almost every point of the agreement has been respected and followed.”

However, when asked about reduced PCR tests in the past few days Dr Adhikari said they have developed capacity to conduct more PCR tests at once, but the tests have been conducted on priority basis only.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 27, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.