Protests flare in Dang, Dhangadhi during PM's visit

Published On: December 7, 2016 10:01 PM NPT By: Devendra Basnet & Dil Bahadur Chhantyal

Police detain 70 in Kailali, 21 injured 
Protests postponed in Rupandehi, Arghakhachi, Gulmi

DANG/DHANGADHI, Dec 7: Even as protestors have postponed their bandhs in various districts of the western region, demonstrators in the mid and far-western regions took to the streets on the eighth day to protests against the government's move to revise the federal boundaries of Province 5.

The main opposition CPN-UML and its allies intensified their protests in Dang and Kailali districts when Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal visited to attend two separate programs. Protests in Dhangadhi, district headquarters of Kailali, left 21 injured when police intervened, while 41 protestors were arrested, according to the central publicity and publications department of the CPN-UML. Police said 70 individuals were arrested in Dhangadhi.  

Daily life was badly affected in Dang throughout Wednesday due to various protests organized by the agitating parties. Short and long distance transport was unable to operate as bandh enforcers burnt tyres on various road sections to obstruct vehicular movement. Fears of vandalism also prevented vehicles from hitting the streets.

Likewise, the strikes also affected school-going children as educational institutes in the district remained shut. Main marketplaces including Ghorahi, Tulsipur, Lamahi and Bhaluwang Bazaar remained shut, as did factories.

On Tuesday, joint struggle committees formed in Rupandehi, Arghankhanci and Gulmi districts postponed the protests for the time being. The ongoing bandh in Butwal in Rupandehi was postponed after the opposition leaders announced they are to bring new forms of protest that do not cause any trouble to the general public. 

“We have decided to postpone the bandh for the time being and focus more on corner meetings, rallies and other forms of protest. The decision was taken as per the suggestions of school operators, transport entrepreneurs, parents, industrialists and other stakeholders,” informed Shiva Subedi, district chairman of CPN-UML after an all-party meeting.

The bandh enforced in Dang on Wednesday to coincide with PM Dahal's visit was called off at 5 p.m.

Dhangadhi remained tense throughout Wednesday after Dahal landed. The locals chanted slogans against him, accusing him of working against the national interest. They said Province 5 was spilt as per Indian designs.

Cadres of CPN-UML and the Rastriya Janamorcha were very active in enforcing the bandh in Dhangadi Bazaar During the bandh enforced between noon and 4 p.m., tensions rose as police and protestors clashed.

Issuing a press statement, the CPN-UML condemned the arrest of its cadres and accused the government of using force to intervene in their 'peaceful protest'. Party District  Chairman Dirgha Sodari, Rana Bahadur Chand, Yagyaraj Bastola, Madan Regmi and 21 others sustained injuries in the police intervention, according to the party.

District Police Office (DPO) Kailali said that 70 protestors were taken under control for protesting in roads designated for use by PM Dahal. “We were forced to take action after the protestors caused obstructions,” said Superintendent of Police (SP) Arjun Chanda at the DPO. 

UML and its allies have been protesting against the amendment bill that would see the hill districts of Province 5 moved to Province 4. The government had proposed the bill on November 29 in an attempt to form Province 5 with only tarai districts. The bill has been lauded by Madhes-based parties and by the southern neighbor, India.

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