The seemingly endless series of bandas have crippled life all across the nation. With the time of the promulgation of a new constitution inching closer, and the parties preparing to make the final negotiations on the issue of federalism, many different groups and factions have taken to the streets in order to pressurize the parties to ensure their place reserved in the upcoming constitution. Almost no part in the country remains untouched by Banda called by one or the other group or caucus. First it was Far Western Development Region, which witnessed twenty consecutive days of strike over the issue of undivided Far West. Finally, the agitators were ready to lift the on going Banda after the government agreed to address their demand. All the five districts in Karnali have yet again been shut down demanding an autonomous Karnali state. The entire Mid Terai is shut due to the indefinite strike called by Broader Madhesi Front demanding a single and autonomous Madhesh in the new constitution. Same is the fate in many other parts of the nation.
As the entire nation is preparing to enter a new historical era with the introduction of a new federal republic constitution, some amount of unrest and disorder at this point of time is natural. It can’t be taken as unforeseen. Moreover, in a democratic and sovereign state, everyone reserves an unalienable right to put forward their concerns and grievances provided they do it abiding by the law of the state. And it becomes the duty of the state authority to listen to and address these concerns in the best possible way. This is a part of a democratic practice.
However, most of the practices followed in our country so far are utterly undemocratic. It has been like an established culture for anyone to come to the street even when there are minor discerns and resentments. General strikes have been the most common ways of protesting these days. Whenever there are issues to be addressed, the agitators call for banda and come to the street. The bandas bring everything to a standstill throwing the normal life of people completely out of gear. Even though the protesters repeatedly assert their commitment to a peaceful protest, most of these strikes turn violent. Such bandas at times unleash an unspeakable terror among the general public as there is an unbridled chaos everywhere. The banda enforcers roam around in the streets freely with sticks and rods in their hands force-closing all the shops and obstructing vehicular movement. Amidst the panic and terror, shopkeepers pull their shutters down and shut their doors immediately. At times, the shops and stores are vandalized, and owners are misbehaved and even manhandled simply for keeping their shops open. Bikers and motorists are tortured, and their vehicles torched. Even the cyclists aren’t spared. They are made to pull their bicycles, and those who don’t obey have to see the tires deflated. Within no time, everything comes to a standstill and there is a deadly silence everywhere. It looks as if the invading army has recently taken over the rival camps leaving behind all the rummages as the footmarks of their invasion. This is highly condemnable.
In a democratic nation, the fundamental rights of people are safeguarded, and it’s the prime responsibility of the state authority to guarantee these unalienable rights of people except in the state of emergency. The state must ascertain this by maintaining a proper law and order in the society. No one, in any circumstances, has any right to tamper with the fundamental rights of others, and any breech of such kind is punishable by law. But our case is just the opposite. In the name of Banda, there is a sheer chaos and a kind of monstrous fear everywhere, and sadly it goes unchecked and unrestrained. People are deprived of their right to free movement. Hundreds of thousands of students are forced to stay away from schools and colleges, and sometimes it continues for days and months. Factories and industries are closed. Even a single day closure of industries triggers the loss of millions of rupees in the nation’s economy, let alone the continuous shutdown. Moreover, the continuous strike forces hundreds of daily laborers in these factories sleep with hungry stomach at the end of the day. The continuous and unsolicited Bandas have their greatest effects on the health sector. Many people have to lose their lives due to the lack of timely treatment when they fail to reach the doctors in time because of the obstruction in the vehicular movement caused by the strike. This is utterly pathetic and heart-rending.
Despite such anarchy rampant everywhere, the government seems absolutely indifferent to the plight of its citizens. It has failed even in fulfilling its primary obligation towards them. It feels as if there is no presence of state anywhere. While the Banda enforcers unhesitatingly and mercilessly vandalize the private property and inflict an inexplicable pain to people, the security forces deployed by the state for maintaining law and order remain as the mute spectators to this unbridled lawlessness. This has been a regular practice in our country. The three day general strike called by Nepal Federation of indigenous Nationalities on Jestha 7, 8 and 9 proved to be even more chaotic. Nefin activists and their cadres terrorized people all across the nation. Even ambulances, media people, human rights activists, Red Cross staffs and the vehicles of diplomatic missions weren’t spared. Journalists were thrashed and their cameras smashed. Vans carrying newspapers were stopped and torched. Some of the journalists are still in hospital struggling between life and death. The general secretary of Nefin Aang kaaji Sherpa issued an open death threat against the chairman of Reporters Club. However, to this date no offenders and perpetrators of these cases have been brought to book. This is the indication of absolute anarchy in the nation.
Therefore it’s high time we thought of strong legal measures to end such anarchical bandas, and encourage people to find more effective but peaceful ways of expressing their discerns and resentments.
लेखक : Santosh Lamichhane
मिती : November, 2018
लेखक : एन. पी. खतिवडा
मिती : 2016
लेखक : Laxmi Prasad Devkota
मिती : Evergreen
लेखक : Santosh Lamichhane
मिती : September, 2015