KATHMANDU, June 20: The agitating general public in Kathmandu Valley took to the streets in their thousands in the scorching sun Wednesday noon to demonstrate against the Guthi Bill tabled by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP)-led government. Although the ministry concerned already withdrew the bill on Tuesday, the trustees of the guthis—religious and cultural public trusts—have demanded that the bill be withdrawn forthwith from the National Assembly where it was tabled.
Participants of the humongous rally called by the guthi trustees as a warning to the government marched in from various points in the Valley including Patan, Kupondole, Baneshwar, Basantapur and Bhaktapur. The rally comes on the very next day of the government withdrawing the bill through the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation in a move to quell widening protests and condemnations from various quarters.
The thousands that poured onto the streets included large numbers from the Newar community in the Valley and in Kavrepalanchowk who would have been the hardest hit by the bill. Members of this community came in their traditional attire and with their traditional musical instruments to accompany the slogans they chanted. The sharp jangling of bhushya and pounding of dhimey drums added volume to their chants.
Addressing the assembled masses at Maitighar, members of various Newar guthis condemned the bill as a move by the government to privatize the guthi lands through an all powerful authority . “The government has characterized us as feudal just because we manage our guthi lands ourselves,” said longstanding Chairman of the Newa Dya Dabu, Naresh Tamrakar . “But we can see through your intention of grabbing the land and destroying our culture .”
“The government may not have heard our voices of late, looking upon our issues us trifling,” Chairperson of Jhyapu Mahaguthi Rajbhai Jakami said, “But, now that we are here at Maitighar in such numbers , that voice has perhaps reached Singha Durbar.”
Breaking with the trend of violence in past rallies, the protest rally on Wednesday displayed much civic responsibility. The protestors let several ambulances pass through the Baneshwar-Maitighar, Kupondole-Maitighar, Basantapur-Maitighar road sections although these sections were closed for around four hours during the protest. Similarly, the protestors offered water and flowers to everyone including the security personnel on duty. After the assembly ended, volunteers cleaned up the litter left by the protestors.
During the rally, the protestors chanted slogans including 'our warning stands', 'protect culture and tradition', 'scrap the Guthi Bill' and 'protect media freedom'. Placards read, 'save Newar culture', and 'withdraw Guthi Bill from NA' . A chain of placards read 'SAVENEPAVALLEY'. They also carried the national flag as well as the flags of various guthi organizations.