There are also media reports of irregularities in the continuing imports of RDT kits. The government has allocated 6.8 billion to its COVID-19 response, of which 2.3 billion is for quarantine management. People went to the streets demanding to know where all the money has gone. In repsonse, the prime minister’s press adviser Surya Thapa shared an expenditure report after the protesters’ demand for transparency grew.
Sabin Gyawali was one of the coordinators for the protest in Butwal who tried to lay down the rules about distancing masks, but he says that with more than 1,000 people turning up it was difficult to enforce.
“The protest was peaceful, there was no violence, and no conflict with the police,” he said. “We felt a bit guilty that although we were protesting about the pandemic, we ourselves were not able to abide by the social distancing protocols.”
The demonstrations were also infiltrated by political parties, which made it difficult to get everyone to follow rules. “When we said sit, they would stand up,” Bataule says. “We did stop them from saying things that were offensive, and they did not grasp the idea that a protest could be independent.”
In Bhairawa, Sudipa Chaudhary Mahato says she decided spontaneously to join the protests because she identified with the cause. But her parents were initially reluctant to allow her to go out.
It was also a spur of the moment decision for Smriti Baral, one of the organisers of the protest in Pokhara on 11 June. After seeing the protests spread in Kathmandu she felt it was her duty to make the voice of the younger generation heard.
“We had been sitting peacefully for an hour when a group of men joined us and started shouting political slogans, and that was when the police intervened,” Baral recalls.