By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Aug. 21: A week-long prohibitory order is in place in Kathmandu and on its first day on Thursday, the valley wore a deserted look.
The crowded inner alleyways were desolate, the bustling Durbar Squares were silent and the Ring Road – always teeming with vehicles – was empty.
“The public has largely respected the order and foot and vehicular movement has decreased significantly,” said Kamal Ghimire, police constable stationed at Mangalbazar, Lalitpur.
Ghimire said that there had not been any incident in the area and the people themselves had avoided coming out, except for essential works. “Some need to go to hospitals, others to buy food or water and some others have to be present at their offices. But a large section of the public has chosen to stay home,” he said.
The authorities have taken the declared prohibition seriously and security personnel have been mobilised on major roads, chowks and areas of the three districts of the valley to stringently enforce the restrictions. Pedestrians and motorists are being stopped and inquired about their reason to come out, informed Senior Superintendent of Police Kuber Kadayat, central police spokesperson.
The first day of the prohibition order has been enforced strictly and those found coming outside for non-essential works are being kept at various holding zones, informed Sushil Kumar Yadav, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police.
He informed that more than 1,100 pedestrians, 695 two-wheelers and 195 four-wheelers had been held across Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur till Thursday noon for violating the stay-indoors order.
Rishi, who only wished to be identified by his first name, was one of those held. He was travelling from Krishna Mandir in Imadole to his brother’s house in Maharajgunj on his scooter when the police stopped him at Gwarko and took control of his vehicle.
He claimed that his 97-year-old mother was very sick and he wanted to be there with her. He was pleading with the policemen to let his scooter go when The Rising Nepal spoke to him. He said, extremely worried, “My mother might be taking her last breaths and I am not able to be there with her. The police ask me to show proof, how am I supposed to prove my mother’s sickness?”
Constable Ghimire explained the dilemma police face in these situations. “Sometimes, you have to make practical considerations but you also have to be aware that people can make up stories.”
While Rishi’s might be a special case, many others detained are those coming out simply to have a look or enjoy driving on empty roads. Three people aged 23, 34 and 52, unrelated to each other, who were stopped at Koteshwor, admitted that they were out to see how the so-called “curfew” was like. They did not reveal their identities.
However, while the prohibitory order has imposed restrictions on travel and businesses, it has allowed shops selling essential items like food and medicines to stay open. Yet, food store owners in a few places have complained that the police forced them to close.
Sona Manandhar said that the police came at around 10 AM on Thursday and asked her to close her rice store in Bafal. “I told them that we fell under the essential business category but they had none of it.”
Similarly, Suvas Pahadi also said that the police forced him to close his rice and vegetable shop in Baneshwor Thursday afternoon.
At the same time, though, many food stores around the valley were seen open and doing business.
The order will remain in force till the midnight of August 26.