Separate bandhs cripple life in five districts

Himalayan News Service

Narayangarh, January 23:

Three separate bandhs called by the Maoists crippled life in Chitwan, Siraha, Saptari, Kaski and Parbat districts today.

The Maoists-called Chitwan bandh to protest the killing of their cadres by security forces crippled life here. Cargo trucks and vehicles stayed off the roads. Students had to walk to examination centres to appear for their exams. Rickshaws, however, did a brisk business. Vehicles carrying patients or the dead, and security personnel, were the only ones seen plying. Most shops in the Chitwan’s main markets remained closed. Bazaars in the district headquarters of Bharatpur including Ratna Nagar municipality and Ram Nagar remained shut, as did the shops in the rural areas of Gitanagar, Rampur, Sharadanagar, Chanauli and Mangalpur. However, government and finance offices remained open.

Meanwhile, the district dairy producers’ community association, Chitwan, issuing a release, protested the bandh. In the release, acting president of the association, Shanker Raj Rajbhandari, urged the bandh organisers for unhindered movement of milk tankers as 125,000 litres of milk produced by thousands of Chitwan farmers go to waste on one bandh day. The release also stated that the association would launch an agitation by shutting down Chitwan district if the government does not raise the price of milk by 30 per cent.

Similarly, the third and last day of Maoists’ three-day bandh in Siraha and Saptari paralysed life in these districts today. The chill brought about by the rain further added to the people’s woes who were already hit hard by the three-day bandh.

Passenger of over a half dozen buses, which had been stranded at Lahan since yesterday, could reach their destinations in the east only after the security forces provided escorts to the buses today. Educational institutions, industries and factories in Siraha remained closed today. Meanwhile, the national convention of the National Forum for Land Rights scheduled in Lahan from today was suspended till tomorrow due to the bandh, Baldev Ram, president of the forum, said. Our Rajbiraj correspondent reported that Maoists took three motorcycles under their control for defying the bandh from Kankatta of Saptari. They seized the motorcycles belonging to former Maoist cadre Bechu Lal Yadav, Pankaj Kumar Shah and Sunil Kumar Shah, who were participating in a marriage procession.

Meanwhile, normal life came to a halt today in two districts on the first day of two-day Kaski-Parbat bandh called by the Maoists.

The Maoists called the bandh following the killing of secretary of joint Kaski-Parbat district committee, Bijaya Dhakal, by security forces. Dhakal was shot dead on January 13 at Sammi, Nirmalpokharai VDC-1, Kaski.

Due to the bandh, vehicles remained off the roads in Pokhara, while educational institutions and business organisations remained shut.

Meanwhile, security forces defused a bomb at noon, which was placed by the Maoists near an NEA transformer, located near the Ram primary school at Srijana Chowk, Pokhara. Expecting Maoist offensive, a large number of security forces were mobilised and deployed in the city, said Krishna Prasad Lamsal, chief district officer (CDO) of Kaski.

Transportation entrepreneurs, who had faced great loss in the earlier three-day Gandak region bandh called by some sister organisations of the Maoists, are reported to have suffered much loss in this two-day bandh too.

Life in Parbat was crippled too, with vehicles remaining off the roads and educational institutions based in Parbat remaining closed today.

The bandh also affected life in the neighbouring districts of Myagdi and Baglung, with people who were supposed to leave for either Myagdi or Baglung via Parbat being left stranded in Parbat. The bandh has also affected the Gupteshwor festival, which is scheduled to start from Tuesday.