Lawmakers demand withdrawal of Guthi bill

Kathmandu, June 10: Lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties have demanded withdrawal of bill related to Guthi, registered by the government at the Parliament, protesting it in today's meeting of the House of Representatives.

Soon after commencement of the meeting, lawmakers of the Nepali Congress stood from their respective seats as a symbol of protest against police's intervention against peaceful demonstration. The demonstration was launched at Maitighar Mandala on Sunday demanding for preservation of culture.

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara gave time to NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand to put forth his view. On the occasion, leader Khand said that the right to peaceful protest as per the constitution has been infringed.

Nepali Congress lawmakers stand from their seats as a symbol of protest at the meeting of the House of Representatives held on June 10, 2019 against the police intervention on protesters demanding withdrawl of the Bill related to Guthi.

He said, "Why bills are brought time and again against the constitution. We have serious objection over the rule of doing away with the existence of Guthi. Hindu religion and culture should be preserved."

Ruling party Nepal Communist Party (NCP)'s Pampha Bhusal condemned police force in the peaceful agitation held in the Maitighar Mandala Sunday. She demanded the government to pull off the bill and bring a new one in its place. The centuries old Guthi like the 1700-year-old Rato Machchindranath should be well protected, the bill has overlooked this fact and it should be replaced with the new one through consensus, according to her.

Pushpa Bhusal of Nepali Congress said there were over 2,000 Guthi inside the Kathmandu Valley alone and the bill aimed to pose a threat to Guthi land by misinterpreting the constitution. The existence of Guthi must be protected to safeguard religious and cultural values which had been in practice since the Lichhavi era.

In her response to lawmaker's concerns, Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal defended the bill reasoning that the plan to take Guthis into an authority model was to systematise related provisions in the constitutions and for uniformity of Guthis.

"There is no different in gist between the Guthi law of the past and the bill. It does not intend to destroy religious and cultural norms and values. Its sole aim is just to address the constitutional provisions and implement the constitution. It falls in the hand of all respected lawmakers how to execute it. However, the government is ready to revise it. The concerns shown by lawmakers that whether it could damage the Sanatan culture and region are genuine and nothing such will be allowed to happen", the Minister assured.

Saying it was inappropriate to draw a conclusion by viewing only an Article and an Index of the constitution, Minister Aryal said the Bill was brought in line with Article 290. She argued that the bill has also accommodated the issue of establishing welfare of farmers relating to Guthi.

The Assembly session was put on hold for 15 minutes following a protest from lawmakers of main opposition parties expressing dissatisfaction with the responses of Minister Aryal relating to the bill.

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