12 June, Kathmandu:
The youth had gathered near BhatBhateni for a peaceful protest against the government, demanding to improve quarantine conditions, make wider use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and make public the Covid-19 expenditure report.
The protest was held yesterday, Thursday, it was organized by youth through social media platforms. This was the 2nd time that people took a peaceful protest to the street. It was first organized by youths on Tuesday. And when police found it unstoppable they fired water cannons and batons.
Until Tuesday the protest was limited to Kathmandu but on Thursday it has spread to different parts of the country like Pokhara, Biratnagar, Chitwan, Hetauda, and Birgunj, while more programs in other parts of the country are scheduled for the upcoming week.
Tuesday’s protest had numbered around 150 individuals but Thursday’s protest had grown exponentially in number, with over a thousand attendees. They had decided to join the protest after listening to Prime Minister Oli’s response on Wednesday. And the participants in Thursday’s protest were holding placards mentioning KP Sharma Oli government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pragati Parajuli(18 years old), was part of both protests held in Kathmandu. She said, “the event wasn’t affiliated with any political party. The number of participants was huge, compared to the previous protest.”
Suyogya Singh(22 years old) of Mahottari, organizers of a protest held in Jaleswar also said “almost three dozen people gathered for a peaceful protest on Thursday. The protest was carried out following physical distancing protocols and other safety measures. The police did not interfere and it ended peacefully.”
In Biratnagar too, over 500 young people had gathered for a protest on Thursday. Rishab Sarawagi, a participant, said, “ their protests were part of a series of protests being held for the past few days along the highways and in front of the Chief District Office. The number of people who joined the protest was just around 50 on Wednesday but it rose to 500 on Thursday. Although police were present during the protest, there was no interference as it was a peaceful protest.”
Deputy Superintendent Rajkumar KC, mentioned, “Some protestors, however, started becoming more aggressive so we pushed them back towards the police headquarters in Naxal, fired teargas shells and used water cannons to disperse the youths.”
Deputy Inspector General Niraj Bahadur Shahi proclaimed, “The ongoing protests have increased the risk of Covid-19 infection not only to the public but also to security personnel working in the field under high risk to ensure public safety. We are not stopping people from protesting but protesting in a restricted zone with a mass gathering is wrong.”
The failure and disappointment of Oli government’s handling on the Covid-19 pandemic led the anger to spill out onto the streets.