All photos: Kamal Rimal
Bus operators in Biratnagar have now taken to covering windshields with plywood and metal sheets for protection
On 7 December bus driver Umesh Thapa was driving from Dharan to Biratnagar when Madhesi Morcha cadres launched an attack on his passenger-filled vehicle at Hattimuda in Morang. Protesters broke the bus’ windshield, sending pieces of glasses flying into Thapa’s eyes. The driver also sustained injuries on his hand.
A week earlier on 27 November three passengers died and 26 others were injured in Bhardaha of Saptari district when a bus overturned as its driver made a sharp turn to avoid being attacked by protesters.
Almost all of the long-route buses traveling from Biratnagar have been vandalised by protesting Madhesis. Following these attacks, bus operators in the district have now taken to covering windshields with plywood and metal sheets for protection. Others have resorted to covering the entire body of buses with metal mesh.
"Driving a bus on this route is now equal to going to war," says Raju Dhamala, a bus operator. Some drivers like Shyam Thapa of Subhalaxmi Deluxe have even started wearing helmets to protect themselves from attackers.