Nepal | May 26, 2020

Tihar brings no joy to stir-troubled Tarai folks

Ram Sarraf/Prabhat Kumar Jha
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Girls purchasing clay lamps for Tihar festival from a roadside stall at Ghantaghar, Birgunj, on Tuesday.

Birgunj/Rautahat, November 10

With the onset of Tihar, festive mood is in the air, but people in the Tarai remain untouched by the festive fever as the ongoing general strike enforced by the United Democratic Madhehi Front continues to make life difficult for them.

Continued strike and disruption of supplies from India for the last 48 days have caused acute shortage of essentials in the markets. Similarly, closure of factories have led daily wage earners to remain without work for months.

The UDMF’s blockade in Birgunj has resulted in acute shortage of foodstuffs and goods, which are highly in demand during festivals. Markets and bazaars that normally teemed with shoppers wear a deserted look

Pannalal Kumal, a potter at Birgunj’s Ghantaghar, looks visibly disappointed as sales of clay lamps is negligible. He said he sold clay lamps worth Rs 20,000 last year, but this year he has just managed to sell clay lamps worth Rs 2,000. “Many potters like me have been bearing the brunt of bandh,” said Kumal.

Sitaram Sarraf, a trader at Birgunj’s Maisthan, said sale of goods for Tihar had dropped enormously this time. “I have merely sold electric lamps worth Rs 200,000. Last year, I had sold electric lamps worth Rs 1 million,” said Sarraf.

Cloth seller Kausal Barnawal at Ghantaghar complained that they were running out of stock as supplies have been disrupted. “Many customers have been returning empty-handed due to shortage of clothes in my shop,” said Kausal. Barnawal complained that the continued strike had hit the locals very hard.

Pushparaj Yadav from Rautahat headquarters Gaur complained that Tihar could not bring any joy to the locals as many of their relatives could not return home as very few passengers vehicles have been operating due to fuel shortage. “Market places have opened but locals are having a hard time due to scarcity of goods,” said Yadav.

Rambharos Jha from Matsari in Rautahat argued people in the Tarai were suffering due to government’s indifference to the agitators’ demands.

Shops have reopened in Gaur, but people are forced to buy the goods for higher prices.


A version of this article appears in print on November 11, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.


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