KATHMANDU, May 12: As the deadline to the much-awaited Constitution of Nepal comes close, strikes were predicted.
The far western regions of Nepal have been facing the brutal general strike for the past 13 days and it continues (till the time we go to press) as they protest against the UCPN-Maoists’ proposal to divide some parts of Kanchanpur and Kailali and include them in the Tharuwan federal state.
Strikes have been very common in Nepal and for various reasons. Dhanusha, Sunsari and Bardiya districts have also seen strikes in the past weeks.
Two days in a row, Kathmandu too saw the city cripple down with no vehicles in the streets, hampering the daily life of the people and making it difficult for the attendees of +2 final exams reach their exam centers.
Where do the youth stand in the whole scenario? What are we supporting? Who are we supporting? Why are we supporting?
From L to R-Govinda Bist, Bimal Thapa, Prakash Gautam, Bimal Poudel and M.B. BK
Republica caught up with five youth who were actively involved in the general strike on Friday in New Baneswhar, Kathmandu.
M.B. Biswakarma, 21; Prakash Gautam, 26; Bimal Paudel, 22; Bikash Thapa, 18; and Govind Bist, 30 are all students studying in the Valley and are affiliated to one student union or the other, but they say, “We’re all Nepalis at the end of the day and we’re all one.”
Why are you protesting and supporting the strike?
Prakash: We’re protesting because we don’t want states based on ethnicity.
Bimal: Exactly, we, on behalf of all Nepalis, are protesting and not just for the Thakuri or Bahun Samaj.
M.B: I think Nepal is perfect as it is now with 14 zones and 75 districts. Why do we need changes is my question.
Bikash: Imagine the conflict that we’ll have if the country is chopped into states based on ethnicity.
Govind: I agree with what they’re saying. We aren’t here to harm people. We’re allowing bikes of students and other service vehicles like those of the press, ambulance, and tourist shuttle service are allowed to run. We’re here for a cause, and not to harm anyone or anything.
Do you think strikes are absolutely necessary?
M.B: This is something the politicians taught us and I think it’s absolutely necessary because our voice falls on deaf ears without a general strike, which is sad.
Bikash: A fine example is that of the strike in the far western regions of Nepal. It is reeling under strike for almost two weeks now and the government after so many days finally set a committee for discussion.
Govind: If only the government and the 601 CA members had heard us out, this strike wouldn’t have been called. To draw their attention, this had to be done.
When supporting the strike, do you think of the financial loss that the country will face due to the strike?
Prakash: The financial status of Nepal is low as it is because of the decade-long internal conflict. We’re doing this strike for peace and prosperity. We don’t want peoples of two different ethnic castes fighting.
Bimal: We’re here because we don’t want the future generations to see another civil war in Nepal. Not to let that happen, I think this is a small price to pay.
Bikash: We do realize that the country suffers and so do its people when a strike is called, but like Bimal said, I think it’s a small price to pay when you look at the larger picture.
How do you manage food and drinking water for everyone?
Prakash: We don’t pay for or manage food and water. Everybody leaves home after eating and then go back around 4 or 5 pm. The water, however, is bought. We collected money (donation) from everyone here and then bought it. No one is paid for attendance or anything as such.
M.B: Everybody here has come because “they want to be here” and support the cause because we all don’t want ethnic-based states.
Are there any further plans for a strike?
Prakash: We will now wait for the Constitution to come out and see what happens.
M.B: If the result is not as wanted, or if the states are divided according to the identity and ethnicity of the people, there surely will be strikes after that.
Bimal: It’s pretty simple. We don’t want identity-based federalism. Anything in that line will lead to strikes, for sure.