Groups demanding renaming of Koshi Province enforce a shutdownThe agitating groups say the new name, Koshi, does not reflect the region’s history and identity.
General life in the hilly districts of Koshi province was affected on Sunday due to the general strike called by various organisations against the naming of the province.
The agitating groups demand that the former Province 1, which was recently named Koshi, should be renamed. They say the new name fails to reflect the region’s identity and history.
Among the organisations that jointly called for a general strike on Sunday are Renaming Province 1 with Identity Committee, Federal Kirat Rai Yaokkha, Kirat Yakthung Chumlung and Sherpa Sangh. The dissenting groups have demanded the province be renamed either Kirat Limbuwan or Limbuwan Kirat.
The provincial assembly meeting on March 1 had endorsed the name Koshi for the province through majority votes.
On Sunday, local businesses, transportation services, industries, factories, financial and educational institutions and government offices remained shut in various areas of Panchthar, Taplejung and Ilam districts, affecting daily life.
“The bandh (strike) culture, which we had almost forgotten for the past few years, is back again,” said Bivek Limbu, a motorcyclist who was heading off to Phidim from Yangnam. “The protesters stopped my motorcycle, verbally abused me and even tried to take away my keys.”
The protest will continue, said Niranthi Tumbapo, general secretary of Kirat Yakthung Chumlung. “It will be conducted in various forms, including shutdowns and strikes,” he said. “Our movement will be successful.”
Meanwhile, in Dharan, demonstrators from the Joint Struggle Committee obstructed the Dharan-Dhankuta highway and barred vehicular movement, bringing the city to a standstill. The committee has called for the immediate withdrawal of the name Koshi and the renaming of the province as Limbuwan-Kirat.
No untoward incidents were reported throughout the day with security personnel deployed at various major intersections of Dharan. However, the shutdown affected markets, transport and educational institutions in the city.
The general strike also affected several areas in the Dhankuta district.
According to traffic police, although long-distance vehicles were operating in Dhankuta, there were few short-distance vehicles. The police said that most educational institutions remained shut due to the strike.
The general strike also affected activities in Khotang district as transport, services, educational institutions, banks and financial institutions and shops remained closed throughout the day.
The demonstration started at Kirat Chowk in Diktel at 4 am and vehicular movement was obstructed in the Mid-hill highway and other roads.
The demonstrators took control of cargo carriers and private vehicles while locals felt the brunt of the strike as markets were shut down.
Phurba Sherpa, president of the Khotang-chapter of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, said that ambulances, auto rickshaws carrying patients, milk and press vehicles were allowed to run.
Likewise, Morang and Jhapa districts also felt a partial impact of the strike as educational and financial institutions remained closed throughout the day.
As many as 33 people who were arrested for enforcing the bandh in Jhapa in the morning were released in the evening, police said.