One million students hit as their unions bicker

KATHMANDU, MAY 07 – A minor dispute between the Nepal Student Union (NSU) and All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU) at Pashupati Campus, Chabahil, on April 19 has snowballed into a political wrangling that forced hundreds of schools and colleges to suspend classes on Monday, affecting over one million students.

The ANNFSU called a sudden educational strike in the Kathmandu Valley, demanding prompt release of its central committee leader Bijay Rai who was arrested for his alleged involvement in the attack of NSU cadres on April 19.

There are more than 2,000 schools–710 public and 1,300 private–in the valley’s three districts. Similarly, almost all the colleges, both government and private, were closed due to the strike.

Kathmandu District Education Office, Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation, Nepal (PABSON) and Higher Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal (HISSAN) have condemned the strike, saying that the closure seemed to have been motivated from political interests that have nothing to do with the students.

Kathmandu District Education Officer Baikuntha Aryal said the innocent students were at the receiving end of the unwarranted closure of educational institutions.

“Almost all the schools across the valley were closed,” said Aryal.

Similarly, PABSON Chairman Baburam Pokharel said such protests should not victimise the students in any way.

“I received a text message from the ANNFSU cadres about the closure when classes were about to start. We have nothing to do with their demands and nor can we solve their problems. But we were compelled to suspend classes,” said Pokharel.

However, ANNFSU leaders said they called the shutdown as their agreement reached with the Kathmandu District Administration, Metropolitan Police and NSU on April 24 regarding the release of their leader Rai was not implemented.

The government had agreed to provide free medical treatment to those who sustained injuries during a clash between two unions on April 19. The NSU had agreed to withdraw charge against Rai to pave the way for his release.

“ANNFSU central committee member Rai has not been released due to NSU’s delay to take back the charge. Our agreement with the NSU and the government has not been implemented,” said ANNFSU vice-chairman Nawaraj Poudel.

Meanwhile, police briefly detained six ANNFSU cadres who were staging a protest in Bhaktapur on Monday.by NIRJANA SHARMA ekantipur

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