Police used force to disperse participants of a peaceful automobile rally organized by Joint Tourism Coordination Committee (JTCC) and arrested 15 tourism entrepreneurs.
More than two dozen tourism entrepreneurs were injured in the incident, a statement issued by JTCC said.
According to the statement, police arrested Deepak Mahat, Ramesh Dhamala, Chandra Rijal, Bodhraj Bhandari, Rajendra Subedi, Rajkumar Pandey, Bal Bahadur Samari, Rajaram Basnet, Achyut Dhakal, Tek Gurung, Bijaya Lama, Laxman Shrestha, Mankaji Lama, Bir Bhadur Gurung and Surendra Bhattarai. Bhattarai, who was participating in the relay hunger strike, was arrested from the relay hunger strike site in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) itself.
All of them were released later on the day.
Injured entrepreneurs are receiving treatment in Kathmandu Model Hospital, Bir Hospital and Manmohan Memorial Hospital.
JTCC had sought the permission to organize the rally from the District Administration Office, Kathmandu. It had organized motorbike rally on the same route on Monday.
“We condemn the government act of suppressing the peaceful protest of tourism entrepreneurs by using police force, instead of addressing our genuine demands. We will intensify the protest if our demands are not addressed at the earliest,” the statement said.
JTCC has also said it would take the initiatives to file cases against the guilty police officer in the international court of justice for human rights violation.
Meanwhile, a meeting of JTCC held on Tuesday afternoon passed condemnation proposal against the police action.
Addressing a corner meet at NTB premises following the release of arrested leaders, Deepak Mahat, president of National Entrepreneurs’ Association for Tourism-Nepal (NEAT-Nepal), said police used force while tourism entrepreneurs were exercising the rights to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution. “We have learnt that the officer on duty attacked our peaceful protest without taking order from his senior. We will find out the motive behind his move and take appropriate action,” he said.
Similarly, JTCC Coordinator Ramesh Dhamala said they won’t lose patience despite police high-handedness. “The government says it would prioritize agriculture, hydropower and tourism for economic development. I would like to ask the tourism minister is this how he intends to develop the tourism sector,” he said.