On May 15, 2016, Federal Alliance, an alliance of 29 different Madhesi, indigenous communities, Tharu and other political parties and organizations, held their Singha Durbar Gherau (picket Singha Durbar) protest in a peaceful manner.

For the Kathmandu-centric protest, large number of demonstrators (roughly around 3000 to 5000 in number) had gathered around Singha Durbar area, dividing them into two different venues. The first venue of their demonstration was at Maithighar Mandala under the leadership of  Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) Chair Upendra Yadav. The demonstration at the second venue ‘Hanumanstan’ was under the  Sadbhawana Party Chair Rajendra Mahato. The demonstrators aimed to demonstrate before the Gate number 1 and 3 and enter inside.

Despite demonstrators’ frequent attempts to break the bar erected by security officials of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force, the demonstrations that started at 9 am continued peacefully till 5 pm. The law enforcement agencies maintain restraint while the protesters were also under the complete control of their leaderships.

However, the protests centered at the heart of Kathmandu disturbed regular traffic movement in the capital, affecting normal mobility and lives.

Rewriting the constitution, identity-based provinces, investigation into Terai killings, and faster rehabilitation for earthquake victims were among slogans the protesters were shouting during their demonstration. Some of them also were shouting the slogan like “this time they won’t return with empty hand from Kathmandu”

Thanks to the human rights defenders for monitoring the protests that also helped to maintain the protests peaceful and police to remain restraint from using force. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in a meeting with human rights organizations on May 13, 2016, had also urged them to deploy their monitoring teams to observe the protests.

Likewise, prior to the demonstration, the NHRC had held consultations with law enforcement agencies and Federal Alliance. The NHRC had urged the government authorities to respect the rights to protest peacefully and agitating parties to ensure that the protests are done in peaceful manner.

Federal Alliance decides to continue ‘Picket Singha Durbar’ Protest two more days

Federal Alliance, reviewing today’s “successful and peaceful protest”, decided to continue protest for two more days on Monday and Tuesday (May 16 and May 17), that would continue disturbing the traffic movement.

Some of cadres from districts, who were supposed to attend the today’s picketing Singha Darbar protest, were barred from entering to Kathmandu. They were stopped in Naghdhunga, the entry point to Kathmandu, and few of them walked more than 15 kilometers to come to kathmandu. Those who remained stranded on the way to Kathmandu, and those residing in the Capital itself, after observing the today’s “successful” demonstration, are also likely to join tomorrow’s protest.

During our interactions with protesters, we could feel a sense of fear among them that the government might use some sort of force tomorrow looking at the relatively “successful” program today. Among the demonstrators, there is also fear of interference of vigilantes that might spark violence at any point. Hence, we would like to request all stakeholders to continue pressure on both sides to maintain restraint the next two days as well.

Final observation

Agitating parties and groups showed their strong dissatisfaction with the current government for its failure to address their demands for amending the constitution. The Federal Alliance announced their fresh agitation two days after the government on May 9, 2016 sent them formal invite for the talks.