Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Mobile worth millions looted under cover of protest

Mobile phone traders have demanded action against a mob that looted shops in the Gongabu area in northern Ring Road yesterday.

A cinema hall was damaged and mobile shops at Lotse Mall in New Bus Park of Gongbu were looted by a mob during the agitation yesterday evening. However, not a single political party has condemned such criminal activities, yet.

The mobile phone traders have but demanded compensation from the government for the losses incurred. Taking advantage of the protest by public transport workers, looters had made off with mobile sets worth millions in the robbery.

The Prime Minister himself looks after the Home Ministry but neither the Home Ministry nor the PM Office condemned the incident. The government had also announced public holiday yesterday in the memory of ‘Janayuddha Diwas’ – a memorial day of starting of Maoist insurgency in Nepal some two decades ago, though the conflict pushed the country a century backward economically.

The shop owner and vice president of the Federation of Nepal Mobile Business Association (FNMBA) Arjun Chalise said that mobile phones worth around Rs 80 million to 90 million were looted from his two shops located in the Lotse Mall. 

The association – holding a press conference at Lhotse Mall in Naya Bus Park today – demanded full compensation from the state for the loss and damage to the owners of mobile shops that were robbed and vandalised in the course of the protest of transport workers' demonstration in Gongabu. President of the association Bharat Bhattarai asked the government to compensate the traders. “The government should take action against those involved in Monday's incident,” he said, adding that the shops were looted in a broad daylight robbery. “We will launch protest programmes, if the government fails to compensate us for the losses incurred within 48 hours.”

The transport operators yesterday staged a demonstration against the traffic police’s ‘stringent’ rules, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s announcement to not let long and medium route public vehicles park in open spaces other than inside the New Bus Park at Gongabu.

The demonstration took a violent turn when the agitating protesters set fire to two traffic vans, venting their ire against the police, who they say overcharged fines. 

They also vandalised the supermarket’s building. The ‘protestors’ looted and vandalised the mobile phone shops during the demonstration of the transport workers.

Videos of protestors looting mobile phones from a mobile shop operating at Lhotse Mall in Gongbu have also been released on social media. 

On Tuesday, home secretary Binod Prakash Singh telephoned Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dhiraj Pratap Singh and instructed him to identify those involved in the incident and take immediate action.

The spokesperson of the Home Ministry Jitendra Basnet said that the incident has drawn attention of the ministry.

Bhattarai also accused the government for not showing any concern and remained silent on the state incident for 15 hours. “Monday's incident will confirm how weak the country's security system is and that the state should pay the entire compensation for the incident,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry late afternoon instructed the police to investigate the robbery of mobile shops during the protest of transport workers.

Meanwhile, 10 individuals have been arrested in connection with the vandalism and robbery of the mobile shops.

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