Nepali Times
By The Way
Lumpen Gandhians



Over 200 people stranded at Biratnagar airport last Saturday due to poor visibility were in for more bad news. Criminalised politics had led to another violent death in a Bharatpur jail and an enraged youth wing pressurised the parent party to call for a nationwide strike. Only this time it was supposedly the 'most democratic' party, the Nepali Congress.

The 85-year-old woman next to me wanted to call her son, who had returned to Dharan after dropping her at the airport. The elderly, the sick, tourists and doctors, we were all stranded, frantically calling to find out what was happening. Some were even hoping the flights would be cancelled because they didn't want to reach Kathmandu after dark with no transportation.

Luckily, the strike was called off just as the fog lifted. But that was only the warm-up. Two days later, the NC called for a 'real' strike and the country ground to a halt again. Congress leaders told the media it was their 'democratic right' to protest and that they would do so in a 'Gandhian' way without resorting to violence. But a terrorised population wasn't daring to venture out or open shops after taxis were torched, ambulances vandalsied and even bicyclists harassed. Government offices in several districts were ransacked, examination centers were mobbed, pharmacies stoned and Bharatpur airport attacked.

It was a 'succesful' banda because by Monday evening, the government took back all the cases against the NC activists in jail and promised to declare Shiva Poudel a 'martyr'. Paudel and his supporters were serving time in a Bharatpur jail for the alleged murder of a UML youth leader Sanjay Lama. Whether Paudel was innocent or a criminal, we will never know and it does not matter anymore.

It has now become impossible to distinguish between a criminal and a politician. In July in Biratnagar, the UML's Mahesh Basnet issued an open threat to a police officer and a newspaper editor for daring to accuse one of his supporters of trying to kill a reporter. Protected by the UML Basnet challenged the entire state machinery to arrest the attacker from his house, nobody dared.

This has now become a country where the home minister admits he hires goons to run his affairs, and says, "Oh, I am only doing what everyone else does." Parties mobilise their militant youth brigades to extort money from businesses and hijack government tenders. Media houses are vandalised, journalists manhandled, sometimes killed for speaking up.

We ran into long-staying American, Barbara Adams, on Monday walking past burning tyres on Putali Sadak. With her long white tresses, she stood out in the crowd of pedestrians. She just shook her head, "Kasto thiyo kasto bhayo yo desh."

A banda terrorises the public with the threat of violence, and has become the time-tested way for anyone to blackmail the state, and it doesn't even have to be a political party anymore. Anyone can do it. The protracted transition and stagnant economy means young people have no jobs, and a sizable population of youth is left outside the national mainstream. Disillusioned and hopeless, they vent their anger on the streets, and all political parties are trying to channel this energy to their advantage. It doesn't matter anymore whose flags they carry.

Outside the CA building in New baneswor, a 10-year-old was burning tyres and stoning cars. "Somebody gave me this flag and told me not to allow anybody to pass, so that is what I am doing," he told me proudly. An NC flag waver further down the street was telling a tv reporter: "This is the first time we have called a banda in three years, we will show other parties how bandas should be done."

Nepal has deeper structural problems eating away at the roots of democracy, and those who have bestowed upon themselves the task of defending it are the ones responsible for the rot.

Read also:
Up in smoke

Worst system, except for the rest

1. who cares
one should remember that if you go for band, public will no longer feel sorry for the family of victim and the victim.

2. jange

Violence as a legitimate instrument to achieve political objectives was firmly established the day the seven party alliance decide to ally with the Maoists and signed the Delhi sponsored agreement.

The only ways to get out of this hole is to repudiate that agreement or wait a generation or so for things to get back to normal.

I presume the author supported the Maoist alliance so it is very hypocritical of him to complain.


3. Joker
I found the picture accompanying the article more lucid in showing the stupidity of the Congresis and the eunuch state. Look at that kid waving the party flag accosting a harmless man on a bicycle, who looks bemused to say the least. And look at the posture and attitude of the riot police standing by allowing this to happen. Shame on the Nepali Congress. Shame on the shameless police force. What are they there for?

4. Tashi Lama
In the name of Buddha they knows how to beg, now in the name of Gandhi they come out to protest. What an excuse?  Small kids are provoked to burn tires and vandalize shops and passing vehicles. All these politicians are blind-aandha so they likes bandha, knowing not how much it harms the country economically and environmentally.  It is shame on all these politicians in Nepal causing this protest of bandha, meaning closure of Nepal.

Down with all the idiot and stupid political leaders in Nepal!

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)