Rich put on tattered clothes to evade extortion

Taplejung, November 1:

In what they call an attempt to evade extortion by the Maoists, the well-off people here disguise as poor by putting on worn clothes and walking around as normal persons. A local businessman, who was returning from Birtamod with a bundle of clothes for his shop, when asked what had happened to his clothes, said he had to put on worn daura, suruwal and cap to protect himself from being forced to give donation to the Maoists.

It’s not only me, a lot of other businessmen, government officials and well-to-do people in Taplejung have started to dress in this fashion to evade Maoist extortion, he said. A government employee who was returning to his house at Taplejung from Jhapa said he had disguised as a poor farmer while he was travelling in a public bus.

Had I not done this the Maoists would have forced me to donate a hefty sum, he said while dusting his worn clothing, adding, the Maoists do not ask for donations from the people who look like farmers.

Local businessmen, government officials and rich people from Taplejung also fear that the bus drivers and conductors reveal their identities to the Maoists. We repeatedly request the bus drivers and conductors not to reveal our identities to the Maoists, the government official said.

Maoists stop the vehicles at more than 50 places along the highway from Birtamod to Taplejung and check them, it was informed.