Pilgrims feel pinch of donation drive

Taplejung, May 24:

Pilgrims headed to the Pathivara temple — a popular religious destination in the eastern region — and passengers headed for different destinations said the Maoists have been ‘extorting’ money from people despite the announcement of ceasefire.

In the name of donation, the Maoists have been demanding a huge amount of money from pilgrims, victims said. “As the Maoists demanded cash after stopping my vehicle, the pilgrims were compelled to make donations,” said a bus driver, adding, “They show official letter pads and indulge in extortion.”

“I was in trouble as the Maoists took Rs 1,000 away from me,” said a 65-year-old woman of Dharan headed for the temple.

“I was sleeping in a bus. I was surprised as Maoist cadres showed a letter pad and demanded cash,” said a native of Itahari. The Maoists have reportedly been extorting money from passengers by stopping vehicles in different road sections in the eastern region.

Thanks to the Maoists’ campaign, popular destinations like Kanchanjunga, Kumbhakarna and Olangchungola have witnessed a decrease in the number of domestic and foreign travellers, locals said.

Meanwhile, human rights organisations, condemning the Mao-ists’ act, demanded that they immediately stop such activities.