Police gagged three youths while taking them under control when they protested in a program attended by Prime Minister (PM) Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Tuesday.
A youth chanted slogans condemning exorbitant interest rate and demanding waiver of bank interest even as PM Dahal reached New Baneshwore at around two Tuesday afternoon to attend the program organized to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that is observed annually on March 21.
Other two youths also started chanting slogans while the police personnel deployed there tried to take the first youth under control. The police covered mouths of the three youths while taking them under control.
Uddhav Basnet, 23, of Solukhumbu, Biplav Khadka, 18, of Bajhang and Som Sharma of Baglung are currently in custody of the Metropolitan Police Circle New Baneshwore and the police are mulling about whether to try them for misconduct or not.
Spokesperson with Kathmandu District Police SP Sitaram Rijal told Setopati that the youths were taken under control after they trespassed a program organized by someone else and chanted slogans about issues unrelated to the program.
He revealed that the youths said that they were affiliated with the Nepal Independent Youth Campaign that is demanding slashing of interest rate of banks.
The act of physically shutting the mouths of protesters in a democratic country with the Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression has been widely condemned on social media.
But the ruling parties seem to have taken the rare and serious incident in democratic Nepal lightly. Haribol Gajurel, political advisor to PM Dahal, told Setopati that he was not aware of the incident when Setopati contacted him at around eight Wednesday morning.
This scribe ended the conversation saying ‘we will talk again after you collect information about the incident’ but he did not answer the phone when contacted an hour later.
Prakash Sharan Mahat, spokesperson of Nepali Congress that is on the verge of joining the Dahal government, said that the act of shutting the mouths of protesters was most likely the decision taken on the spot by the deployed police personnel rather than on the government’s instruction. “Mouths of the citizens cannot be shut to gag them no matter why that happened,” he stated.
Chief of Kathmandu Police SSP Dan Bahadur Karki also revealed that such instruction was not issued. “Can there be an instruction to gag people? There is no practice of gagging people. That is not necessary and is not done,” Karki stressed. “It may have been a coincidence while being clicked by the camera capturing every second in the same nature. This incident has been blown out of proportion.”