Human chain formed around Ring Road to protest Indian blockade

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 28, 2015-

Students, teachers and parents in Kathmandu Valley formed a 27 km long human chain around Ring Road on Friday to protest the border blockade imposed by India.

The blockade has caused an acute shortage of petroleum products in the country, affecting the transportation service. Several schools in the Valley have been forced to halt their bus service which has directly hit the students and their classes. The number of public transports has also decreased, making it difficult for children to go to school. 

Claiming that the Indian blockade has violated the children’s right to education, the Association of Private Educational Institutions of Nepal (Apein) organised the a symbolic protest by forming the human chain around Ring Road. 

Thousands of school and college students, teachers and parents participated in the protest, demanding an end to the blockade. They appealed the UN to intercede with the Indian government to lift the blockade to ensure smooth operation of academic institutions.

The demonstrators also urged the Nepal government to take immediate steps to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.

“I am always late to school these days because there are few vehicles on the road,” said Sujna Rai, who goes to Puspa Sadan High School in Kirtipur. The 12-year-old said the blockade has also affected her home. Due to the shortage of cooking gas, she said, her mother has been cooking meals on firewood. “It is time-consuming. This blockade has upset our daily life.”

Noting that the ongoing blockade has affected around 8.5 million students across the country, one of the organisers of the protest said their primary objective was to internationalise the Indian blockade on Nepal. To that end, a group of students also handed over an appeal letter addressed to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, drawing his attention towards the humanitarian crisis faced by Nepali people due to the blockade. 

Ramila Devi Konojo, the vice-principal of Kamal English School in Balkhu, said the education sector has suffered badly because of the blockade.

“Earlier, we had to close our school for a month due to the earthquake. Six months later we are being forced to halt the classes because of this crisis,” she said. 

Rights groups’ concern over children joining demo

Child rights activists have expressed concern over the use of school children in a demonstration organised by schools in the Capital on Friday to protest the Indian blockade. 

Though the demonstration was aimed at ensuring the children’s right to education, rights activists have denounced it.  

“We have been working to get the message to the political parties to avoid using children in any kind of demonstrations, but teachers and parents themselves are doing what we have been preaching against all along,” said Sumnima Tuladhar a child right export. 

Tarak Dhital, executive director of Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB), said children’s voices could have been raised by teachers and parents while children themselves could have done so through other means. 

“It is very important to ensure children’s right to education and it is for the adults to listen to the pleas of the children and convey it. I am afraid this kind of demonstration will set a negative trend in the days to come,” he said. 

National Human Rights Commission also objected to the use of children in the demonstration.

“Our field inspection on Friday found that students below eighth grade were used in the demonstration,” read a statement. “There is a risk to the children if they are used in strikes and demonstrations.”

The national rights watchdog said that the use of children in protests and demonstrations is violation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children’s Act of 1992. 

Published: 28-11-2015 08:54

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