Bandh cripples life in eastern hills

TAPLEJUNG: About 1,000 devotees, who came to offer puja in Pathibhara Temple, were stranded due to the indefinite Taplejung bandh called by the Unified CPN-Maoist.

Ramesh Khadka, who come to worship the goddess from Morang district with his family members, said he was forced to halt his journey back home.

He said he had little money left. Many others are staying in Phungling, the district headquarters. Maoists halted vehicular movement since Wednesday night.

Normal life in the district was thrown out of gear on the second of the bandh.

The agitators closed government offices, markets, educational institutions, industries and transportation service in the district.

Villagers, who came to the district headquarters for official works, were forced to return.

District committees of the UCPN-M called the Limbuwan bandh demanding martyr status and relief for those killed in the past 15 months, besides probe into the incidents.

The bandh affected normal life in Panchthar, Ilam, Terhathum and Dhankuta districts.

Educational institutions, shops, trade and industries remained shut in Panchthar. Vehicles heading for Ilam, Jhapa and Taplejung were stuck in Phidim, the district headquarters. Ilam bazaar and adjoining areas were also affected.

A report from Dhankuta said the bandh brought transportation to a grinding halt at various places.

Educational institutions, shops and industries remained shut. Hile, Pakhribas, Sindhuwa and Bhedetar bore a deserted look. Farmers could not sell vegetables and milk in the market.

Maoist activists vandalised and torched two government offices accusing defiance in Dhankuta.

A group led by district secretary Ujjwal Kiranti vandalised District Education Office (DEO) and Eastern Regional Health Directorate. They mistreated staffers and vandalised furniture at the DEO.

Police reached the scene on time to bar the items from being torched, Inspector Durga Dahal said.

The protesters vandalised windowpanes and a computer in Eastern Regional Health Directorate and a vehicle in front of Dhankuta Multiple Campus.

Meanwhile, a report from Taplejung said Maoist-affiliated Limbuwan Rajya Samiti (LRS) withdrew the bandh this evening. "The protest programme was withdrawn after the assurance of Dhankuta DAO to coordinate with Taplejung, Panchthar, Terhathum and Dhankuta administrations regarding the demand," LRS secretariat member Suman Pun said.