TOPICS: Bandh culture gone berserk

All it takes is a bunch of people to blockade roads and highways - our lifeline - and bring the entire city or region, if not nation, to a grinding halt these days. Take this. A couple of days ago, less than a dozen men stood on the middle of the road during rush hours and held big part of the capital hostage. Around the same time, a quarrel between a married couple spilled over onto the street, and the western town of Nepalgunj was shut down.

And the hottest cake — after a gun battle on campus, politically-motivated students took to streets, burnt tyres and vandalized poor microbuses carrying even poorer home-bound passengers the other day. Like always, commoners were hit hard for no

fault of theirs. Welcome to ‘Naya Nepal’, where bandh, road blcks

and petty strikes have become routine. Little wonder we we’ve had 500 bandh in the past six months!

Every day there is a bandh somewhere in the country, called by some party or a group. And it all comes without prior notice and the groups’ own whim. Nobody dares to oppose that. The road-blockade leaves thousands of passengers stranded on the road. They have no option but to comply by the protesters diktats.

Any vehicle or person refusing to abide by their terms could be met

with dire consequences. Not a single day passes without news photos, footages and stories of protesters vandalising vehicles or manhandling the general public.

Youths, regarded as the pillars of the nation, are unfortunately at the forefront in such strikes, and involving themselves in hooliganism. Often,

politically-motivated students are seen rampaging through the streets, vandalising public and private properties and getting into scuffle with

police personnel - and those disagreeing with them. Hello-is that what Nepali students are learning? Aren’t there better and more creative and

effective ways of protesting?

It would be foolish to assume that the culture of bandh will abruptly come to an end without serious interventions. It must begin at the citizen’s level. The parties will have no choice but to follow. Can’t Nepali people,

the voters that got the leaders to power, the NGOs, the political parties, the students defy bandh? Can’t the government do something about it?