Fear of losing his long tresses to Nepal Police scissors kept Bigyesh Nepal, a 24-year old musician, inside the confines of his Kathmandu home for the past four days.
But on Saturday morning he stepped out and joined hundreds of other Kathmanduites in a musical protest opposing police campaign against those with long hair, tattoos and earrings.
Bigyesh and others were angry at a police drive when it rounded up 711 youths with long hair and/or body piercings on Monday in a bid to reduce cases of thefts and loot in Nepal’s capital.
“It’s time for youths to stand up against the police who instead of focusing on their duty are crushing our personal liberty,” he said during the protest at Basantapur Darbar Square.
Justifying the action, police detained the youths for several hours, took their photos and other identity details. They were released later with a warning and without their locks.
Angry at the campaign that dubbed the youths as hooligans without any basis, many of Nepal’s top musicians voiced their musical protest on Saturday by singing to an enthusiastic crowd.
“I read our constitution recently and found there’s no mention of long hair, earrings or tattoos,” said Robin Tamang, lead vocalist of Robin and the New Revolution, as the protesters cheered.
Abhaya Subba Weise, lead vocalist of Abhaya and the Steam Injuns, said the police high-handedness had no legal basis and violated basic rights of citizens over their own bodies.
The protest ended with a signature campaign where protesters signed a memorandum addressed to Nepal Police chief Kuber Singh Rana urging him not to repeat such campaign.
As others left the scene, relieved to have their locks intact Bigyesh and his friends Ramesh, Saran, Sarvesh and Dipesh (all with long hair) happily posed for shutterbugs.