No end in sight

Bandh or total strike comes as a resort for the people concerned to create pressure on the administration to fulfil their demands. This tactic ought to be the last in the series when all other efforts reach the blank wall. However, the long sequence of bandhs and chakkajams have become the national fixtures that are very unpredictable. It is true that grievances need to be listened to by the concerned and a solution found. But, the problem is that the strike callers go for even a flimsy reason to stall all activity. Hence, in Nepal, the frequency of bandhs is becoming too much on the nerves of the citizens in general. It seems as if even a personal cause leads to calling a bandh that affects a big swathe of the population and traffic movement along the highways. At times, politics has a big role to play. One party or the other takes up the weapon of the bandh to try to force the government to bow down to its mostly unreasonable demands. Such activities have the effect of disturbing the whole security system as well. When the forces are deputed to watch the strikers, other areas that need the assistance of the police are left to fend for themselves because of the stretching to the limits of the security personnel.

The dissemination of wrong information by people with vested interests can also stir up resentment against the administration and thereby the declaration of a bandh. Something like this can be gleaned from the agitation that had taken place in the four districts where the government had decided to establish the administrative service centres for the convenience of service seekers living far from the district headquarters. But, the wrong message that the district headquarters was being shifted led to the agitation. This was a result of the wrong information being spread by people with ulterior motives that set the locals on the warpath. Such an extreme step only causes inconveniences to the general people whose smooth movement comes to a halt. The population is spread out everywhere in the country especially along the highways that see most of the fallout of the total closures. Other instances concern highway traffic accidents in which fatalities result. But, for the aggrieved families and local people, blocking the traffic movement for hours, or even days, on end is not a solution. A clear-cut regulation in such cases for investigation and compensation to the victims must be followed instead of inflated demands going even to the extent of declaring the dead person a martyr.

As the motives are often the output of the political parties, the leaders in general have to abandon activities that focused merely on narrow and petty interests. That is necessary if the regular complaint of lack of law and order is to be addressed properly. The government is helpless if the political leaders themselves create hurdles in the form of agitations and strikes when matters could be amicably settled through negotiations, if the demands are justified to be fulfilled. A broad- minded political thought can only help in the reduction of the frequency of bandhs and a better security situation. For this, the political parties and leaders have to play an enlightened role in the interest of the people and their causes.