Textbooks scarcity: 53 students arrested in Chitwan

Narayangarh, May 25:

Students, frustrated over lack of school-level textbooks even after passage of six weeks of the new academic year, took to the streets today in Chitwan, Makawanpur, Palpa and Nawalparasi districts.

Students vandalised the Chitwan District Education Office today. The police took into custody 53 students for damaging vehicles plying on the Mahendra Highway. Four agitating students were hurt when police resorted to lathi-charge to control the mob.

The District Police Office Chitwan said it took into custody 53 students for interrogation on the charge of vandalising vehicles.

Transport entrepreneurs obstructed transport at Narayangarh bazaar to protest against damage done to 56 of their vehicles. Transport resumed at Narayangarh only at 6:00 pm in the evening.

Chitwan DEO Gopal Krishna Poudel said the students’ agitation is irrelevant in the context that the textbooks are being supplied in the district and that he is ready to solve the students’ problems.

In Hetauda, students obstructed obstructed the Mahendra, Tribhuvan and Kanti highways. They also forced the closure of markets in the afternoon and burnt tyres on the roads.

Three weeks ago the book entrepreneurs had indefinitely padlocked the Sajha Publication branch office at Hetauda.

Students said textbooks for the third, ninth and tenth grades were not available in the market.

“Students visit bookshops everyday with a hope to find books but in vain,” chairman of Hetauda chapter of Nepal Books and Stationery Entrepreneurs’ Association, Yubraj Kharel said.

Agitating students led by the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) and All Nepal National Independent Students Union-Revolutionary (ANNISU-R) gheraoed the District Education Office and planned to submit a memorandum to the district education officer but returned after DEO Cholendra Kumar Pandit assured them of making textbooks available within a week.

The agitation was postponed after the DEO expressed commitment to make textbooks of all

grades available in the market by May 30, ANNISU-R district chairman Chudamani Rupakheti said.

Also today hundreds of agitating students staged sit-ins and demonstrations in front of the Palpa District Education Office (DEO) and padlocked the DEO and the office of Sajha Publications.

Students led by president of Free Students Union of Tribhuvan Multiple Campus Moti Lal Bhandari padlocked the offices and submitted copies of memorandum to the chiefs of the both offices.

ANNFSU-Sixth also padlocked the DEO demanding the availability of the textbooks.

Students obstructed transport at Kawasoti, Rajahar and Daldale of Nawalparasi to protest the shortage of the textbooks.

The protesters later ended the road-block after representatives of civil society, district administration and political parties vowed to avail the textbooks by May 29.

(With inputs from Hetauda, Palpa and Nawalparasi)