Crossing the line

The effects of various forms of protests have, of late, continued to snowball, thereby making life increasingly difficult for the common man. What is even more disconcerting is that, so far, the government has, in many instances, not been able to prevent violent protests and demonstrations that have caused the loss of human life and maiming of many and damage to property. An incident, such as the one that took place in Western Regional Hospital in Pokhara after the death of a nine-year-old child the other day, sparked protests from the relatives of the deceased and locals and the hospital had to discontinue its services and shift its patients to another hospital. The Tharus have also shut down much of the Tarai and, as an offshoot, widespread violence has erupted paralysing much of the country. These two cases are mere tips of the icebergs, and looking back, we find that many other protests have also been happening across the country, some for the most absurd reasons. These days we see that when an accident takes place in a highway, the roads are blockaded, sometimes for protracted periods, with unreasonable demands that the authorities are unable to meet. More often than not, even minor incidents become politicised, and the protests take a different colour, and they assume serious dimensions so much so that the authorities are hard put to deal with them. As a result, hundreds of passengers are stranded and even children have to go hungry and thirsty without shelter for days on end.

Clearly, these should not be allowed to continue and stringent action should be taken against

the offenders. Under no circumstances should they be given impunity, for this would only encourage them and others to continue with their disruptive activities that create only trouble and hardships for others. Much to blame are also the political parties which try to make an issue of even the smallest incidents for their ulterior motive and even seem to relish doing so. The government has shown itself inept to become sensitive and to resolve them. As is happening now, it has also become incapable of playing the role of an adept mediator in the negotiations. The authorities should know when enough is enough and take a tough stance, for this is the only way to serve as a preventive mechanism so that such offences are not repeated in the future.

As prevention is always better than cure as far as such protests are concerned, it would be prudent to always be on one’s toes, particularly in the case of security personnel whose roles are crucial to stop such happenings from being blown out of proportion. Better still, all the political parties and the concerned civil society should be one in not inciting such protests. The protestors in a democracy have the right to demonstrate peacefully to put their views and demands across and get themselves heard. However, this does not mean that they can get away with vandalism. Unfortunately, this is the case with many protests that inevitably turn ugly. To ensure that there is a semblance of peace and order in the country, it behoves all to abide by certain norms. Since the protestors are mostly the youths, the message should reach them that violence for the sake of violence only leads to disaster.