KATHMANDU: The blatant use of force by the police on civic protesters on Monday has drawn criticisms from all sections of society. Politicians, civil society members, and general public have all condemned the administration’s crackdown on peaceful protests against Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s move to dissolve the House of Representatives.
On Monday, hundreds of people had gathered under the ‘Brihat Nagarik Andolan’ banner and marched from Kamalpokhari towards Baluwatar in protest. The rally was intercepted by police while it was moving towards Baluwatar and the police used water canons and batons to disperse them.
Prominent faces of civil society — Dr Govinda KC, Mohana Ansari, Khagendra Sangraula and Narayan Wagle had addressed the rally which had writers, poets, artists, intellectuals and members of public in attendance.
Several protesters were injured in police action.
Later, the campaign, condemning police action, released a statement announcing that the ‘Third People’s Movement’ has been launched. Accusing the administration of turning the peaceful citizens’ protest violent by using force on unarmed, civil demonstrators, the group said it is launching the movement against every form of regression.
Leaders in opposition, leaders from the splinter group of the ruling party, civil society members, former administrators and general public have denounced the administration’s action labeling it unnecessary and oppressive.
Nepali Congress leader Shekhar Koirala has demanded that the government should render an apology to the demonstrators for using force in a peaceful rally. Likewise, NC’s Gagan Thapa cautioned that the government’s crackdown on peaceful civil protests indicate an end of ‘Olicracy’.
Similarly, former spokesperson of National Human Rights Commission Mohana Ansari said that suppressing civil protest by force is against democratic values and human rights principles. “I strongly condemn the violence on protesters by police force,” Ansari said.
The splinter group of the ruling party led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal too condemned the use of force during peaceful protests.
Chairperson of Nepal Policy Centre Pradip Pariyar said no amount of condemnation can justify the oppression of peaceful protesters. “Too much of anything can hurt the doer in stead. Think before it is too late,” Pariyar stated.
Meanwhile, a large number of social media users have condemned the administration’s intervention during civic demonstrations.
Failed attempts at maligning individuals with false accusations
There were also attempts made by pro-government ‘forces’ on social media to malign prominent journalist, writer Narayan Wagle who has been persistently speaking out against Oli’s step.
During Monday’s demonstrations, Wagle had announced that a third wave of people’s movement had begun, which did not sit well with the pro-Oli camp. Posters of Wagle with remarks circling around religious sentiments were circulated after the protests, which was rendered baseless by the writer.
Nepal Fact Check, a fact checking website as its name suggests, stated that the claims made by some people regarding the journalist’s statement on social media were false.
A while ago, NCP leader Mahesh Basnet, who is very close to PM Oli, had pointed out the need for a ‘cyber-cell’ that would fight fake news and false propaganda against the government.
Despite scattered attempts at organised attacks against dissenters in the past, there has been a rise in the thickness of such ‘co-ordinated’ acts in recent times.