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Frequent Strikes Cripples Life across Nepal
By Anil Giri
Kathmandu Correspondent
Crowd in a general strike in Nepal

Ahead of constitutional deadline that the Nepal’s three-year-old Constituent Assembly (CA) is scheduled to expire on May 28, 2011, frequent strikes called by various pressure groups have been halting normal life across the county. The assembly has a mandate to carve a new republic and federal statute.

A marathon talks among the parties could not yield any results as of Friday afternoon.

The general strike was called by a strong Hindu outfit Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh (VHM), a fringe party inside the Nepal’s CA Chure Bhavar Ekata Samaj and other pressure groups where threw the life out of gear across the country despite the heavy presence of security forces. The strike enforcers have also asked to declare Nepal as a Hindu state and not to restructure state along ethnic lines, among other things.

A van belongs with Nepal’s prominent Kantipur news Channel and other private and public vehicles were ablaze by the outfits.

Himalaya Bhakta Pradhananga-chaired-Chure Bhawar Rastriya Ekta Party has taken the responsibility of the attack. The party has called two-day nation wide strike, as part of its protest program ahead of a dire constitutional breakdown. The group is protesting against the CA’s failure to give the country a new statute.

Less number of public and private vehicles is seen in the streets of Kathmandu due to fear of reprisal from strike organizers while shops and
businesses in many parts of the city are open except at the main market places.

People were seen heading towards their offices on foot due to lack of enough public vehicles while most of the educational institutions including schools and colleges remained closed.

Reports say that the strike has partially affected life in many other parts of the country with transportation coming to a grinding halt and main market places including factories, educational institutions, offices partially open. Thousands of passengers have been stranded on the road along highways due to the strikes heading to various destinations due to the strike.

General strikes are common means for Nepalese political parties, pressure groups, ethnic groups to pressurize the government to fulfill their demands. In the recent years, in an absence of political stability and lack of consensus among the parties, frequent strikes have been part of life and seen as culture to oppose any issue.

According to a website, www.nepalbandh.com that closely monitors the strikes in Nepal and informed the masses, altogether 34 strikes were announced within May month alone by various groups to press their respective agendas.

Political squabbling has prevented the Constituent Assembly from drawing up a new constitution after three years of work, and the crisis was likely to force the Himalayan country into further political turmoil.

Nepal has been undergoing huge political transition following the declaration of Republic and secularism in 2006, when Nepal’s Maoist party agreed to join the mainstream politics. The decade long insurgency launched by the Maoist party in 1996 killed more than 13,000 people, thousands disappeared and millions were displaced from their home.

After the Maoists agreed to join mainstream politics in 2006, a massive people’s uprising flushed out the centuries’ old monarchy from Nepal, loosing the Hindu nation’s identity.



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Anil Giri serves as Kathmandu Correspondent for The Seoul Times.As a journalist he has worked for such news media as Annapurna Post, BBC, and Himalayan Times for years. He finished his both undergrad Economics degree and his MA degree in English Literature at Tribhuvan Univ., Kathmandu. He also holds a diploma in Development Journalism from prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication-IIMC, New Delhi, India.

 

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