KATHMANDU, May 27: While the country facing one after another banda in recent days, the US Embassy has decided to act tough against banda organizers who use threat of violence to enforce their strikes.
Embassy Spokesperson Heather Steil told Republica on Thursday that Ambassador Scott H DeLisi has decided to put the organizers of Friday´s banda on the embassy´s visa watch list, invoking an existing visa policy. She further said the embassy will also enforce the policy on organizers of future bandas.
“We believe that while peaceful protests and demonstrations are the hallmark of a democratic society. Using violence -- or the threat of violence -- to force people to participate in political activities is wrong,” said the US spokesperson.
Though the US policy of keeping people on visa watch list was in existence, this is the first time the policy has been invoked targeting banda organizers.
“Being on the visa watch list would make it very difficult for a person to obtain a US visa,” Steil said of the implication of the policy.
The US embassy decided to enforce the policy in its effort to promote violence free politics in Nepal.
"... Although we believe strongly in the right of people to freely express their political beliefs, using the threat of violence to force people to comply with your views is not political expression; it is political thuggery. It is time for the banda culture to make way for violence-free political discourse," Ambassador DeLisi said in his Facebook post on Tuesday.
The US Embassy spokesperson said the ambassador is informing leaders of the visa watch list policy before taking action against organizers of banda using threat and violence.
In recent weeks banda has crippled life across the country. On Wednesday, mid-western parts and eastern parts of the country were shut down by Bishwa Hindu Mahasang and Jatiya Limbuwan Parisad Krantikari respectively.
The UK recently took an extreme decision to stall funding to Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities for organizing banda forcefully.