The season of bandhs and strikes is back again, curtailing people's right to work and movement, which is not only against the Constitution, but also bleeding the economy white.
"Bandh is the height of criminalisation in politics," according to rights activist Jyoti Baniya.
"Our Constitution has ensured people's right to movement and right to work as fundamental human rights," he said, adding that curtailing these rights is not only against the Constitution, but also against the State and the society.
The culture of taking citizens hostage by calling bandhs and strikes to climb to the seat of power is a gross violation of human rights, added Baniya, who had filed a case at the Supreme Court asking it to ban bandhs. "The Supreme Court had also banned bandhs."
"Though strikes are a right to collective bargaining, one cannot curtail others rights while exercising their own rights," he added.
Apart from our Constitution that has guaranteed the right to work and movement, Nepal is party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976. It commits its parties to work towards granting of economic, social, and cultural rights to individuals and is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
With the formation of a new government to hold elections, fringe parties have been protesting, taking hostage civil liberties to bargain for power.
However, they have denied the right of the people to work for their livelihood.
The right to work is a concept that people have a human right to work, or engage in productive employment, and may not be prevented from doing so, Baniya quoted the international law, adding that the right to work is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognised in international human rights law through its inclusion in the ICESCR, where the right to work emphasises economic, social and cultural development.
At a time when the country is failing to create employment opportunities, forcing a majority of the youth to flock to the deserts of the Middle East, frequent bandhs and strikes have hit industries as they have not been able to operate to their full capacity.
The country is projected to witness the lowest economic growth in six years in the current fiscal year at 3.56 per cent, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics that has painted a bleak picture of manufacturing and agriculture — both engines of domestic economic growth.
The private sector — that generates the largest employment — is hit hard by bandhs and strikes, said president of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Suraj Vaidya. "Industries are forced to shut down," he said, adding that frequent bandhs are bleeding the economy white
According to an estimate, a day of bandh costs the country around Rs two billion. "Even an hour of bandh will cost around Rs 83 million," according to the estimation.
"Bandhs are not a solution to any problem," Vaidya added.
People can exercise their right through other means of non-violent forms of protests, where they won't be hurting other's personal freedom and rights.
Without economic freedom, the country cannot prosper and develop, he added.
The universal declaration
* Article 23 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that 'everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.'* Human rights can be classified and organised in a number of different ways. At an international level, the most common categorisation of human rights has been to split them into civil and political rights, and economic, social and cultural rights.