Cadres of Nepal Student Union (NSU), the student wing of Nepali Congress, exhibited such behavior which Nepali society has abhorred for long and against which political parties from all hues have committed complete detachment. On Saturday, they torched four government vehicles. In Kathmandu, they torched a car from Patan High Court near the Bagmati Bridge in Sankhamul. According to the eyewitness, they pulled the driver out of the vehicle and set it on fire. The cadres are said to have seized key of five government vehicles including one from the Prime Minister’s office in Kathmandu. They torched a pickup vehicle belonging to Pokhara Metropolitan City and motorcycles of District Health Office of Nepalgunj and Guras Rural Municipality-3 of Surkhet. This is reminiscent of unruly protests radical Maoists used to enforce in the past: Setting taxis on fire and causing irreparable damage to public property. What NSU cadres did on Saturday is nothing but a crime and the government must arrest those involved in the incident.
NSU cadres have been running the campaign of taking government vehicles running on Saturday in control apparently to stop misuse of government vehicles on holidays. The objective may be justified for a number of officials are found to misuse government vehicles on holidays for purely personal purpose. The NSU cadres could have simply taken such vehicles under control, if at all, and reported to the law enforcement agencies. To set public property on fire is condemnable act. Nepali people have only just started to feel relief from needless strikes. NSU cadres must not involve themselves in the activities that cause serious damage to reputation of their mother party, Nepali Congress, and themselves. On their part Nepali Congress leadership should strongly warn and direct their cadres not to indulge in such destructive activities ever again.
Following the incident, Nain Singh Mahar, President of NSU, has apologized “for such unintended turn of events” and youth leader Gagan Thapa has vowed to discourage NSU cadres from committing such acts again. “No ifs and buts. Such an act is not only serious but also condemnable. I will actively work to deter such incidents,” he wrote in Twitter on Sunday. This is welcome but this commitment should reflect in action as well. The Act Related to Political Parties (2017) has a provision of penalizing up to Rs 50,000 for the political party which causes, or made to be caused, damage of government, public and private property. There is no reason why this provision should not be applied in case of NSU cadres who burnt the public vehicles. Nepali Congress is poised to stage anti-government protests in the days to come. To ensure that public property is not damaged in the course of protests, the guilty of Saturday’s arson must be brought to book. Nepal has witnessed a lot of vandalism and destruction of public property in the name of political protests in the past. We must put a stop to it forever. Cadres of political party must find an alternative way of protesting government wrongdoing.