Police detain five protesters demanding Covid-19 response overhaulOfficials, demonstrators narrate different versions of events following the detention.
Police detained five protesters, including a youth activist who announced a hunger against the government’s mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis, in Lalitpur on Friday.
The protesters were held after Ishan Adhikari, who goes by the moniker “Iih”, on Friday afternoon vowed to fast at Patan Durbar Square until the government comes up with better plans to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
“The protesters were detained as they were demonstrating at a heritage site, and locals also didn’t want them there due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Senior Superintendent Tek Bahadur Rai, Chief of Lalitpur Metropolitan Police Range. Rai told the Post they were held inside a police van for “some time” and were allowed to go after police warned them not to continue the protest.
Iih, a member of the independent youth-led campaign “Enough is Enough” said he announced his hunger strike to draw the attention of the government towards his demands, which includes more polymerase chain reaction testing for Covid-19 and discontinuation of the controversial rapid diagnostic testing.
Similarly, he has demanded that the government make public the details of the money spent on the fight against Covid-19, repatriate migrant workers with dignity and provide relief to the most vulnerable communities.
The activist, who has been vocal about the government’s ineptitude in handling the pandemic through the “Enough is Enough” campaign, said the government needs to better trace contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and protect healthcare frontline workers by providing them protective gears, according to a statement on the Facebook group “Covid-19 Enough is Enough”.
These are also the demands the campaign has been putting forward during around 100 youth-led protests held nationwide since June 9. However, the government has not heeded the demands.
Robic Upadhyay, a member of Enough is Enough, narrated a different version of events following the detention of the five protestors. “We told police we would go back to Patan Durbar Square. But as they declined our request, we waited outside the police station in Jawalakhel,” Upadhyay told the Post. “The detainees are still inside the Jawalakhel Station.”
Iih, meanwhile, said on his Instagram that police officials asked the detainees to sign a piece of paper and go home. He said that the detainees demanded that they be presented with a written explanation on why they were detained, but police officials refused to do so.
Along with the ‘satyagraha’ and a 14-day ultimatum to the government to fulfill their demands , the group has also called for a “civil disobedience movement”, inviting members of the public to read books in public places and begin virtual fasting relays using various social media applications.
Shuvam Dhungana contributed reporting.