Prolonged agitation leaves Saptari locals in lurch

Rajbiraj, January 10

The five-month-old Tarai agitation enforced by the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front has left Saptari folks high and dry.

For months, the agitation has brought down the shutters of government offices, banks and financial institutions, court and transport, among other offices, leaving folks here to suffer untold ordeal.

Though agitators have allowed finance companies and banks to open intermittently, government offices and transportation have come to a grinding halt for months.

Long route buses, however, are plying along the East-West highway during the night with security escort. In the day time, short and long route buses stay off the roads making the people’s movement hard.

Nurulahoda Ansari, chairman at Sagarmatha Transport Association Rajbiraj said that indifference on the part of both the government and agitators to resolve the problems had put their business in peril.

Transport labour leader Basant Sah complained that prolonged bandh and strikes had given a hard time to workers in managing two square meals a day.

Agitators have vandalised the offices of more than a dozen offices including Soil Conservation, Education, Livestock, Rastriya Banijya Bank in the district for defying bandh. More than one dozen vehicles have been vandalised and set on fire for defying the general shutdown.

As many as six persons were killed in Saptari alone in police firing while more than 72 persons were injured. Thirteen people who were critically injured are still receiving treatment in various health facilities.

Most transport entrepreneurs and chiefs of government offices have not dared to open their services fearing reprisal from agitators.

Laxman Kumar Ray visited the District Revenue Office to register his land many times, but had to return disappointed. “Both sides have to be serious about settling the Tarai crisis,” Laxman said. Saptari CDO Narayan Bhatta said that he had made every effort possible to resume transport and open government offices in the district.

Parties aligned to UDMF have been staging demonstrations at various places every day. UDMF staged a rally in Rajbiraj today too.

UDMF’s Rajbiraj Municipal Committee Coordinator Umesh Prasad Sah said that they would not halt their protest until their demands were met.

Intellectual Society Saptari Chairman Professor Amarkant Jha warned that delay in addressing the UDMF’s demands would plunge the country into crisis. Jha asked the government and major parties to settle the crisis pronto.