KATHMANDU, Dec 6: Locals in the western and mid-western regions of the country have continued their protests for the sixth consecutive day against the government's plan to revise the federal boundaries of Province 5.
Local market places, government offices, industrial plants and schools remained closed in various hill districts as an indefinite strike continues. Locals and cadres of various political parties took to the streets chanting anti-government slogans. Corner meetings were also organized at various places in these districts which will be affected by the constitution amendment bill.
In view of possible unrest, Kapilvastu District Administration Office (DAO) has declared certain flashpoints at district headquarters Taulihawa prohibited areas.
Locals have been protesting against the government's move to split Province 5 and take away the hill districts. The joint struggle committee in the district has announced a complete 'shutdown' of the district on Monday.
"We have declared some sensitive areas of Taulihawa prohibited areas following a decision at the meeting of the District Security Committee held Sunday evening," informed Punaram Paudyal, administrative officer at the DAO.
According to acting Chief District Officer Bharat Budathoki, the prohibitory orders that took effect from Sunday evening will not be lifted until further notice.
During the the protests in Butwal, Rupandehi district, singer Badri Pangeni rendered patriotic songs in front of the masses staging a demonstration at Milan Chowk. The protesters stopped burning tyres and vandalizing vehicles and started dancing to his songs.
About half a dozen other artists also sang during the protests on Monday. Folk singers Narayan BP Pariyar, Deepak Garauja and Rupa Gharti Magar, comedian Purushotam Bhandari and others also joined the protests.
In Palpa district, various political parties, people's representatives, civil society members and the district chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) came together to protest the government's plan to split Province 5.
The masses continued their demonstrations throughout Monday and also circumambulated Tansen, chanting slogans against the amendment bill. They converged into a corner meeting later in the evening. Various leaders of the main opposition CPN-UML and other political parties voiced their opinions against the bill and said they will continue the protests until the government withdraws the amendment bill.
"The government does not have the right to separate the hill districts from Province 5. It's not right to divide the province just because the Madhesi parties demand it," said lawmaker Som Prashad Pandey, addressing the masses.
Another member of parliament, Radha Krishna Kandel, claimed that the government is working to divide the nation on the pretext of amending the Constitution. "Anarchy is afoot in the name of federalism. The government is hatching a conspiracy to prevent the development of the country."
Another CPN-UML leader, Thakur Gaire, said they will not let Lumbini be divided no matter what. Stating that Lumbini has its unique identity, he accused the government of creating unnecessary chaos by revoking already settled agreements regarding border delineations.
Palpa was already under strike for an indefinite period since Wednesday. As a result, educational institutes, government offices and transport are unable to come into operation.
A mass assembly was organized at Sandikharka, district headquarters of Arghakanchi, on Monday to give continuity to protests against the constitutional amendment proposal to divide Province 5.
The district has been completely paralyzed by strong demonstrations ever since the government decided to table the amendment proposal last Tuesday. Thousands of locals from every nook and corner of villages in the district hit the streets at district headquarters Monday to protest the decision.
A mass procession that started from Shanti Bagaicha at district headquarters ended at local Tundikhel after turning into a mass assembly. Various leaders of the opposition party and other supporters criticized the government for working against the interest of the country and pledged to thwart the amendment bill.
"The government is working in accordance with Indian interests. As our sovereignty is at risk, now is the time for us all to unite and fight against foreign interference in our domestic affairs," said Dum Singh Thapa, CPN-UML lawmaker from Arghakanchi-2.
Even leaders of the ruling CPN (Maoist Center) have opposed the decision. The party's politburo member, Chandra Bahadur Khadka, said Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal should respect the people's sentiments and immediately withdraw the bill.
Similarly, Nepali Congress (NC) district president and coordinator of the joint-struggle committee Bishnu Muskan, NC former district president Kamal Prasad Bhusal, Rastriya Janamorcha district chairman Chabilal Thapa, former central member Sagar KC, Naya Shakti party coordinator Khim Bhaadur BK and FNCCI district chairman Krishna Prashad Shrestha among many others spoke against the division of Province 5 and warned about intensifying the protests.
In Bardiya also the main opposition CPN-UML protested demanding withdrawal of the constitution amendment bill. Supporters of the party obstructed vehicular movement at Rajapur and other parts of the district. They have warned of continuing protests until the government backtracks from its move to make changes in the federal provinces.
(Republica district correspondent Mukti Prashad Neupane from Palpa, Arjun Bhusal from Arghakhanchi, Nirmal Ghimire from Bardiya, Sher Bahadur KC from Butwal and Kiranman Bajracharya from Kapilvastu contributed to this report)