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Seething youth hope for sanity

Birganj/Raxaul, Feb. 6: The 10-year-old schoolboy of 1990 would now be a youth of 25, just out of campus or perhaps still doing his post-grad. Having tasted freedom all these years, he could be the catalyst to undo the doings of King Gyanendra.

Then, there are his juniors, who seethe with anger when the soldiers or the praharis (police) lob a teargas shell or fire a bullet on their friends. The durbar, without an option but to tread with caution, has to guard against making a Tiananmen Square in Kathmandu.

Most of those who have taken shelter across the border agree this could be the Part I of the counter-move for restoring Nepal ' the nation, they stress, is experiencing autocracy bordering despotism ' to sanity.

'Wherever freedom has been under attack, young souls have been the harbingers of change. Today's Nepalese youth has grown up in an environment of democracy and openness. The first internal opposition will come from it,' said Dipendra Chauhan, the editor of the now-banned pro-democracy Birganj daily Ankush.

The signs were already there when the armed police personnel reportedly roughed up students of a Birganj college three days ago. An undercurrent of anger ran through the city. 'They (police) are doing the wrong thing. The volcano will erupt sooner than they realise,' said a senior activist of the Nepal Vidyarthi Sangh, a student outfit that grew in influence and strength over the years.

'Why just the youth' Nepal has a healthy presence of peasants' and workers' movement. They are not going to sit idle. Let the initial confusion clear up and Nepal will see voices ' clandestine as well as overt ' rising from Pokhra to Biratnagar. That is the minimum democracy has done to the country,' CPN (UML) leader Ram Chandra Shah, holed up in Raxaul, said.

Part II of the 'strategy', as Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Kushwaha observed, is facing some hurdles at the moment. His contention is that the freedom-loving intellectuals ' including journalists, writers, artists and teachers ' would not sit idle.

'Gyanendra has been smart in demolishing all communication link and mediums of free speech. He is scared of the spread of ideas and information. But no one can stop the mind from working. Thoughts cannot be policed by the most repressive of regimes,' he said.

Another editor, who has taken refuge across the border, is ready to go even further. 'I am determined to print my small newspaper in India and then move it to Nepal. There are enough ways of doing that. I am working on the logistics and my Indian friends are very helpful. Losses do bother me but not at this moment. We have a bigger duty to perform,' he said.

The journalist draws a parallel with the arrest of all leading politicians during Quit India Movement of 1942 and Emergency of 1975.

'Nepal is facing a similar situation. But determination made the 1942 movement a success. Indira Gandhi too had to relinquish power. I see no reason why it cannot happen in Nepal,' he said.

Whoever The Telegraph spoke to stressed on the 'larger role' that India has to play.

'We cannot operate in a vacuum. Indian leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Chandra Shekhar, Jaya Prakash Narayan and Karpoori Thakur have helped the democratic movement flourish in Nepal. We expect a similar initiative again, if not from the government level, at least from the political quarters,' Chauhan said.

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