Strikes in Nepal’s Efficacious Highway

Foreign affairs and international travel institutions of many developed countries, issue warning and recommendation notices about travel of their nationals in the time of protests and Bandha (strike) in Nepal. In this connection, usually four types of warning and recommendation are issued by them, which are – exercise normal and security normal precaution, exercise high degree of caution, avoid non-essential travel and avoid all travel.

Protests and demonstrations are frequent recurring event in Nepal and any occasion can turn violent. Political meetings and rallies take place throughout the country. Tension between rival political groups can happen any time. Sporadic incidents of politically motivated violent may continue to occur throughout the country.

The Bandha is a serious form of civil disobedience where roads are forcibly blocked off, preventing the flow of food, medical supplies and passengers.

This is popular form of political expression and occurs frequently on short notice throughout the country affecting access to services. Road transport is often disturbed by general strikes. Highways have been major centre point for Bandha and rallies in Nepal.

It is well established in the history of South Asia that Bandhas were also very effective tool for independence movement in the early 20th century. There has been long history of Bandha culture in this region.

Highways in Nepal are considered to be one of the key places for demonstration to fulfill demand of protestors, and it appear to be powerful than any other means or organizations due to its peculiar quality in the time of protest and unrest. There is no alternative to the “East West Highway”, the only one highway in Nepal connecting eastern Nepal with its western part. This highway, most of the year suffers from tribulations, protests and strikes. This is ideal place for rallies and oblige to the government fulfilling demands. The obstacle and mass movement in this highway means high chances to accomplish the demands. The average duration of stir in highway has been one week period. It depends on enormity of demand. If demand is stern and vital, one month period to stop vehicular movement is normal phenomenon.

After people’s movement 2006, there have been regular rallies and protests by numerous political and non-political groups. Each time after negotiations with government most of the demands have been fulfilled and thereafter highway operation becomes normal. Even the Constitution of Nepal has been amended after long strikes in the highway, too.

Nepal is in process to formulate new constitution after successful constituent assembly elections. Every regional group want their rights to be incorporated in new constitution. And this highway is playing role of equalizer or leveler in social and political perspective through Bandha and rallies on it. But the economy of Nepal is slowing down due to strikes. This form of protest is extremely damaging to the economy as well as to the everyday lives of individuals who rely on surface transportation.

1 comment

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