KATHMANDU, MAY 12 – Talks between the agitating Brahmin-Chhetri Samaj and major political leaders remained inconclusive on Friday, with the political parties and the government refusing to commit to a “non-ethnic federal delienation of the states.”
Leaders of the United Struggle Committee said they walked out of the talks after the government talks team said nothing could be guaranteed as they were still discussing the contentious issues of the new constitution.
The Struggle Committee, which called for a nationwide banda on Thursday and Friday, comprises Chhetri Samaj, Brahmin Samaj, Thakuri Samaj, Dasanami Samaj, Dalit Janajagaran Sewa Sangh, Bibedh Mukti Pragatishil Samaj, Khas Chhetri Ekta Samaj and Federation of Maginalised Group.
The agitating groups have also demanded that Brahmins and Chhetris be listed under the indigenous category, saying the decision of the State Restructuring Commission to group the two communities under the “others” category was a ploy to discriminate them.
“We will announce the second stage of our protests on Saturday,” said Krishna Thapa, a leader of the struggle committee. Thapa threatened to go for “sterner” promrammes if discussions on ethnicity-based federalism do not end soon.
“In the name of abolishing caste-based discrimination, political parties have started discriminating against Brahmins and Chhetris,” said Narayan Prasad Adhikari, the chairman of Brahmin Samaj. “We are marginalised in every sector. In villages, even banks and cooperatives deny interest-free loans to poor Brahmin farmers. They say the scheme is only for farmers from other castes.”
According to Thapa, all the political parties including the prime minister were “seemingly negative” about the demands put forth by the community.
Meanwhile, the second day of the nationwide shutdown brought life across the country to a standstill. In Kathmandu, police arrested nine banda supporters from various parts of the Valley. A taxi was torched at Baneshwor at 5.30 am. “Leaving aside stray incidents of violence, the situation was under control,” said DSP Dhiraj Pratap Singh, the spokesperson of the Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu.
Banda supporters staged demonstrations in various parts of the country. Clashes and vandalisms were also reported from districts like Kaski, Palpa and Chitwan.
A skirmish erupted between demonstrators and security personnel at Birautachowk in Pokhara, where at least five persons were injured.
In Palpa, banda supporters vandalised the training hall of the District Public Health Office while a seminar was underway. Tensions escalated in Chitwan after banda enforcers vandalised an ambulance and manhandled its driver, accusing him of transporting local people to their destinations. The demonstrators also tried to vandalise six ambulances at Chaubiskothey in Bharatpur.
Banda supporters also misbehaved with nine Chitwan-based journalists.
In Butwal, Rupandehi district, demonstrators vandalised two vehicles belonging to the Family Planning Association, Nepal and Devdaha Medical College.by ANKIT ADHIKARI ekantipur