All over again

For the public, strikes have now become more than mere occasion to gripe about the inconveniences they trigger. Ordinary citizens have faced undue hassles on days of bandhs. Patients have been forced to postpone visit to the hospitals. Lives have been lost because medical aid is delayed without ambulance or faster means of conveyance. Blockades are no less damaging and dangerous. The roads are planted with live explosives as though the excesses the public has suffered either on the way to a hospital, a school, a religious ceremony or even funeral procession hadn’t been enough. Worse, the exam season has begun, and with it the all-too-familiar blockades and bandhs, because of which, sent-up exams in some areas have already been affected. Students had to walk to the exam centres in the bandh-affected Gandaki region. To say that exams were unaffected there despite the bandh would be an understatement. For example, two papers have already been postponed in Nuwakot.

In a false and animated display of emotion and idealism, party big-wigs, student leaders and political outfits are all fire and brimstone at espousing high sounding philosophical mores. But they have seldom crossed the bridge themselves when their philosophies face the acid test. The party that says it fights for the people have no reservations against subjecting students to insurmountable hardship by imposing blockades and bandhs. Appearing for an exam is a difficult process which the students cannot do a good job at in an atmosphere of fear and violence. Because insecurity stalks students as others, the least the rebels could have done to help the examinees was to call off strikes and embargo. That would have given rise to a right ambience. The casualty of this indiscriminate move has been the examinees, year after year. Come the SLC exams or the sent-ups, the strikes and load-shedding test the students’ grit to a maximum.

No argument would justify the discomfort strikes or blockades cause to the students. To be indifferent to such an important event as an exam is to tinker with the future of the younger generation. That is also to infringe upon an individual’s right to education. However deep rooted one’s ideology may be, the fight for political mileage must not be dragged to the classroom. The sacrosanct premises must not be made a victim of political ideologies because, they are the places to shape young minds so that they become mentally equipped to form their own opinions. But strikes and blockades are one of many such hurdles that the classrooms should be freed from. The Maoist rebels must call off the blockades and strikes to make the examination process move smoothly.