We have had over a week of strikes here in Kathmandu (and elsewhere in Nepal). The strikes were put into effect by the Communists, otherwise known as Maoists here in Nepal. All stores are required to be closed, no cars are allowed on the roads. This brings great financial hardship to the people since most stores are small family run businesses. The ripple effect runs far and wide.
The strike was called by the Communists to protest the election. The election is for the purpose of drawing up an assembly which will finally establish a national constitution. The Communists oppose this. Of course, they oppose most anything that will lead to peace and stability.At the beginning of my class this afternoon, Umesh began by telling me he would have to leave half an hour early to go to the hospital and meet his wife who was waiting there for a doctor’s appointment (his wife later phoned to say that the doctor couldn’t get to the hospital because of the strike). During our studies, there was a loud explosion. I felt sure that a bomb had exploded, but we went on. Later, Bikram, the guesthouse manager told me that a bomb had exploded outside a polling station. Some children were playing there. One of the boys saw something, picked it up, and it exploded, killing him and two of his young playmates. That is the fruit of the Maoist activities. That is their victory.Where to now Nepal? All shops remained closed into the evening (another night of canned baked beans and tuna for me, but who can complain after today’s events!). Everyone now awaits the morning light to see what will happen next. Will the strike continue? Worse yet, will “hostilities” be reignited (a nice way of asking whether or not the civil war will begin again). God knows. May He Who holds all things in His hands protect and help the people of country. – Fr. S.