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Making their presence felt

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
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Commuters travel by a tractor during Thursday’s shutdown in Kathmandu. Photo: RSS

A shutdown across the country on Thursday organised by a radical breakaway faction of the Maoists today brought cities and highways across Nepal to a halt. A taxi was torched and two Sajha Yatayat buses were vandalised in Kathmandu.

It is not clear why the Netra Bikram Chanda-led CPN Maoist called the strike. When asked to explain the reason for Thursday’s shutdown, Santosh Budha of the Maoists citied corruption, foreign intervention in Nepal’s internal affairs and the delay in the post-earthquake reconstruction.

“We also want to show our power. We want to make people aware of our political agenda,” Budha added.

The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) says the country incurs an estimated loss of Rs 2 billion every day that the country is forced to shut down. But Budha said: “What options do we have other than this to make our presence felt?”

Budha also blamed the media for forcing his party to enforce a general strike. “The media never gives attention to us when we carry out peaceful protests,” he said. “We held a motorcycle rally in Kathmandu yesterday, the media did not cover it. But when our cadre torched a taxi today morning, it was reported by every single media outlet.”

The CPN Maoist is one of the breakaway factions of the Maoist party that waged a decade-long war against the state.

Although other breakaway groups have recently unified with Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s UCPN (M) to form the CPN Maoist (Centre), the Chand faction is threatening to wage another war. In less than one-and-a-half -year after its establishment, the Chand faction has enforced general strikes four times.

The CPN Maoist had first called the strike to protest the Lipulek agreement between India and China without Nepal’s involvement. It then called the strike to protest the new constitution. The third time it called the strike was against the Indian blockade.

 

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