Maoist mass meet drive leaves passengers in lurch

Taplejung, May 8 :

Passengers were left stranded here today after the Maoists forced them off their vehicles to participate in a mass meet organised in Phidim, the district headquarters.

Besides the passengers, the Maoists also took with them two members of each family of the rural areas in the district, locals said.

Pilgrims bound for Pathivara were also left in lurch. After forcing all passengers out of commuter buses and cargo trucks, the Maoists captured the vehicles, said a pilgrim, who was forced to walk for 18 hours from Gopetar of Panchthar to Phidim. Some people left for their destinations on foot, he said.

The Maoists have been stopping vehicles at Panchthar’s Kaweli, Sihapur, Bhakuchowk, Parewadanda, Jorpokhari, Salleri, among other places, since yesterday.

The passengers said they left for their destinations believing it was safe to travel after the announcement of bilateral truce. “We are surprised by the Maoists’ behaviour,” said a 65-year-old woman of Shivgunj, Jhapa. She arrived in Taplejung headquarters today after

the Maoists stopped her vehicle at Jorpokhari yesterday afternoon.