Massive demonstration of Guthiyars in Kathmandu

Ramesh Pokharel, Kathmandu । Guthiyars (trustees) of the public Guthis (trusts) staged a massive demonstration on Wednesday demanding that the Guthi bill be scrapped. Thousands of people especially from the Newar community assembled in protest of the proposed Guthi bill. Yesterday itself, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, in a separate press conference held in Singha Durbar, also expressed his support for withdrawal of the bill. However, the agitators -who say the bill is a threat to the centuries-old culture and traditions of Nepal -are of the opinion that the protest must go on until the bill is totally cancelled. The agitators have completely surrounded the Mandala chanting slogans to preserve the guthi, scrapping of the bill and demanding the resignation of Home Minister and the Minister for Communication and Information Technology, among others.

The crowd of such a magnitude is not a common sight. People have come together for a cause they believe is crucial for the conservation of culture and heritage. There is a even a music band to give that cultural touch to the demonstration! The demonstrators chanted slogans to preserve the Guthis. Amid widespread protests, the government on Tuesday decided to withdraw the controversial Guthi bill from the National Assembly. Thousands of people, especially from the Newar community, have gathered at Maitighar Mandala right now demanding the government to scrap the controversial Guthi Bill.Though the bill was withdrawn by the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation in a press conference yesterday, the protestors are demanding that the bill be scrapped. The Federation of Nepali Journalists launched its third phase of protest against the Media Council Bill tabled by the government in the Federal Parliament.

A press statement issued by the FNJ said nationwide signature campaign was initiated to exert pressure on the government to withdraw the bill that aimed to gag the media. “The FNJ announced the third phase of protest after the government took lightly the first and second phases of its protest programmes, organised on June 8 and June 12,” the statement read. Section 18 (1) of the new bill stipulates that if any media publish contents in contravention of the code of conduct, and if an investigation launched after the complaint finds that such news contents had damaged the reputation of the complainant, the council can impose a fine between Rs 25,000 and one million rupees on media outlets, publishers, editors and reporters. The bill has drawn flak from all corners, including journalists and other stakeholders. Section 17 proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct, which includes suspending press pass of mediapersons and downgrading the classification of print media outlets. The draconian bill also allows a government-controlled Nepal Media Council to replace the existing Press Council Nepal to curtail the press freedom, instead of empowering it. Stakeholders are also demanding that violation of code of conduct should not be made a serious crime as media themselves should act as self-regulatory bodies.

For Nepali : काठमाण्डौंमा गुठियारहरुको एतिहासिक प्रदर्शन

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