What would you call the action of someone who makes you cough up cash and goods against your will? For most it would be extortion. But if you are a Maoist in Nepal—such action is defined as donation.
By that logic Maoists across Nepal have been indulging in — intimidating business firms, government staff and media houses to ‘donate’ —are purely acts of seeking voluntary contribution for a worthy cause.
As part of its May 1 demonstration and indefinite strike from next day, Nepal’s main opposition party, United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), and its sister organisations have collected millions (if not billions) in this donation (read extortion) drive.
“We want to launch a people’s movement ... But unlike other parties, we don’t have sufficient funds. Hence we are seeking public support,” said UCPN (M) chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.
The demonstration and subsequent strike is aimed at removing the ruling coalition government and constitution of a ‘national unity government’ headed by UCPN (M), the largest party in parliament.
But fear of donation seeking Maoists is making people worry more about how to escape becoming a donor than whether peace and constitution drafting processes get over within the May 28 deadline.
Shops in most parts of Kathmandu downed shutters on Friday, a day ahead of the May 1 demonstration after Maoist workers—thousands of whom arrived from across Nepal—coerced business establishments to ‘donate’.
“They asked me to pay Rs 5,000 or risk damage to my shop. I convinced them to leave with Rs 3,000 ...,” said Madhav Ghimire, a grocery store owner in the capital.
Apart from cash, some Maoists have also extracted donations in kind by becoming unwelcome guests at hotels, guest houses and banquet halls in Kathmandu where they are staying free of cost and even enjoying free meals.
Tell this to the Maoist leadership, they stress that the party is against forcible donations and would take action against guilty workers.