Protests erupt over provincial capitals

Published On: January 5, 2018 07:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 4: Protests have flared up in various parts of the country with locals demanding their hometowns be declared provincial capitals following media reports that the government has finalized temporary capitals of the seven provinces.  

Locals in Jumla district took to the streets from Thursday demanding its district headquarters be declared the capital of Province 6.

On the first day of the protest, locals took out a rally in the district headquarters demanding that Jumla be declared the capital of Province 6 instead of Surkhet picked by the government.

Addressing a rally in Jumla, Anup Thapa, a youth leader said that Jumla is the most suitable for making capital of Province 6.  

“We will have no problem even if Jumla is not declared capital of our Province. But we will not tolerate if the province's capital is fixed outside the Karnali zone,” he added.

He warned of stern protests if the government goes against the spirit of the locals. Similarly, president of Civil Society of Jumla, Raj Bahadur Mahat, urged all locals to come together to exert pressure for making Jumla the provincial capital.
“To protect Karnali's identity, the provincial capital should be picked from within Karnali. We urge all those concerned to make decisions based on administrative and geographical convenience,” he added. 

The civil society leaders have already asked the elected members of the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly to heed the demands of the locals. 
Similarly, locals in various districts in Province 1 have launched protests demanding that their places be declared the capital of Province 1. 

Locals of Dhankuta, Dharan, Itahari and Biratnagar have been staging protests and meeting with senior leaders to press for their demand. The locals of Dhankuta district also called a banda from Wednesday demanding that their city be declared the temporary capital of the province while locals of Dharan and Biratnagar have started a relay sit-in demanding that Itahari of Sunsari be declared the capital of Province 1. 

According to police, locals have shut down market and transportion in Dhankuta since Wednesday. 

The locals of Dhankuta have even padlocked the Eastern Regional Administrative Office. Similarly, leaders of various political parties in Sunsari organized a press conference in Itahari on Thursday demanding Itahari be declared the capital of the province. 

According to Mukhsahanga Myangwe, a politburo member of the CPN (Maoist Center) in Sunsari, all the political parties in the district are unanimous on making Itahari the provincial capital in view of the transportation convenience for locals of all the 14 districts of the province and the availability of necessary physical infrastructure. 

During the press conference, Nepal Congress parliamentarian from Province 1 Sitaram Mehta said that Itahari should be declared the capital of Province 1 given the city's centralized location and business potential. The local leaders have even decided to organize unified protests in various cities of Sunsari to mount pressure on the government to address their demand. 

Likewise, business entrepreneurs have intensified protests in Dadeldhura demanding Dadeldhura town be declared the capital of Province 7 and not Dhangadhi. On Thursday, local leaders announced a series of protests and organized a rally. 

Prakash Saud, coordinator of a struggle committee on the issue, said that the committee will launch transportation strike on Friday and launch sit-ins and shut down markets from Saturday. According to him, the committee will launch an indefinite strike from next Tuesday if the government doesn't address their demand. 

Similarly, life has been affected due to protests in Doti since Wednesday. The protestors in the district have been demanding that the district headquarters Dipayal be declared the capital of Province 7.

 Likewise, business entrepreneurs in Birgunj have launched protests demanding the city be declared the capital of Province 2. As per media reports, the government is all set to declare Janakpur as the temporary capital of the province. 

(Republica correspondents DB Budha from Jumla, Amar Khadka from Itahari, Siddharaj Rai from Dhankuta, Pushkar Bhandari from Dadeldhura and Ritesh Tripathi from Parsa contributed to this report) 

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