Lahan folk reeling under curfew

Siraha, January 26:

Locals of Lahan have been reeling under curfew. They have faced curfew for a total of 102 hours over the past week.

They take to shopping for foodstuff and other necessities whenever curfew is relaxed.

Violence erupted here after a student was killed in firing by Maoists during the bandh called by the Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum on January 19. The local administration began clamping curfew in Lahan since that day to quell violence.

Business establishments, academic institutions and the communications and transportation sectors have been badly hit due to the protest demonstrations continuing here since the past week. Those worst affected by the daily curfew and bandh are daily wage workers.

Rickshaw-puller Bhola Paswan of Padariya-4 said, “We find it difficult to make both ends meet on a normal day. This daily curfew has crippled us.”

Rohit Tamang of Lahan-1, who runs a tea-stall at Shiv Chowk, said, “We are surviving on chiura (beaten rice) and water for the past five days.”

Over 3,000 daily wage workers like Tamang have lost their source of income because of the continuous curfew and bandh.

It will take more than a week for the revival of business activities, academic institutions, local newspapers and transportation sectors, chairman of the Lahan Chambers of Commerce and Industries Nirash Chaudhari said.

He added that the business sector here has been affected tremendously due to the curfew and bandh. A loss of millions of rupees is being incurred daily, he said.

Goods could not be supplied to Solukhumbu and Namche because of the continuing unrest in the Lahan bazaar, which is the main business centre in the Sagarmatha zone, Chaudhari said.

Transport entrepreneurs are incurring a loss of lakhs of rupees daily because of curfew and bandh, chairman of the Sagarmatha Bus Entrepreneurs’ Association Hari Narayan Yadav said. Around 1,000 transport workers are without work, he added.

Schoolchildren are compelled to stay home. Normal life has been crippled due to daily curfew, housewife Khusbu Hamal of Lahan-6 said.

Publication of around a dozen local dailies and weeklies has come to a halt for a week. Chief District Officer Shashi Shekhar Shrestha said the curfew is a compulsion, adding that it is being clamped regularly as it is the only means to curb violence and prevent casualties.

Stating that the duration of curfew will be reduced gradually once the situation starts limping back to normal, Shrestha added that curfew will continue to be clamped for a few more days.