Itahari bandh called off

ITAHARI: The indefinite general strike called by local residents of Itahari brought the normal life here to a complete halt on the second straight day today. However, it was withdrawn late in the evening after the government decided to provide land to construct a regional stadium here in Itahari.

Rabin Gautam, secretary of the struggle committee, said that they called off all the protest programmes from tonight after the today's cabinet meeting decided to provide 7.5 bighas of land owned by the Resham Farming Development Project and Jute Research Centre for the construction of regional stadium in Itahari.

The strike was imposed from yesterday demanding that the eastern regional stadium be constructed in Itahari. A struggle committee was also formed to exert pressures on the authorities to take immediate decision to this effect. More than 170 local organisations and clubs also expressed their solidarity to the ongoing bandh today. Although the first day's bandh saw sporadic clashes between the protesters and police personnel when around two dozen persons were injured, no such untoward incident was reported today.

The demonstrators padlocked all the government offices of the city area. Transportation came to a grinding halt while educational institutions, marketplaces remained shut. The demonstrators felled trees to block all the four entry points to Itahari and demonstrated in the city area throughout the day.

District Administration Office Sunsari had sent its officer Bednidhi Khanal to hold dialogues with the protesters. However, the latter returned him outright after Khanal told that the administration could not address their demands.

The irate locals demanded an action against DSP Rajendra Dhakal, who instigated violence by intervening into their peaceful protest yesterday. "The administration should take responsibility for the yesterday's vandalism and damage of the vehicles," Gautam said.

A committee that was formed by the government for the feasibility study of the regional stadium also submitted its report. The committee, which was headed by joint secretary of the Sports Ministry Gorakh Bahadur Singh, submitted the report after inspecting the possible sites of Itahari, Dharan and Inaruwa.

Earlier the same day, Dharmaraj Niroula, lawmaker from Sunsari constituency No 2, called on Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and discussed the issue created due to the locals' agitation today. A source privy to the meeting said that Niroula urged the PM to solve the dispute of the stadium at the earliest and fulfill the rightful demands of the Itahari residents.