It is the duty of student unions to protest against any decision that is against the wishes of the people. As a force of change, students are always alert to sanctions by the government. The recent decision of the government to hike the price of petroleum products is against the wishes of the people. We will continue our agitation as long as the government does not reverse its decision. Although the government claims to be a messiah of the poor people, the price hike in the petroleum products has exposed its face. The price hike decision is unacceptable to Nepal Students Union and all the student fronts of the country. The indiscriminate increase of price has already added burden to the poor population of Nepal and the students have had to suffer a lot.
In the last one year, successive governments have hiked the price several times showing international situation as the reason. There is no valid reason and argument to increase the price of petroleum products indiscriminately. There are other several alternatives before the government to avoid the price increase but the government chose it because there is a lot of corruption involved in the scandal. The present price increase in all the petroleum products will affect daily wage workers and poor people. The hike in diesel and LPG will have direct impact on the population living below the poverty line. The students will have also to bear the difficulties. This is the reason all the students unions are now joining hands to oppose the move.
Students are powerful force for change. Students know how to bring down the authoritarian and anti-people regimes. If the present government does not revoke its decision to hike the price of petroleum products, it will face the same fate as the past rulers. We are organizing demonstrations in a peaceful manner against the price hike, but the government is using all kinds of brutal methods to oppress the student agitation. The government is coming with violent means to oppress the students and we are showing restraints against the government moves.
There is no question to start negotiations with the government as long as the government continues to impose new prices to the consumers. We will withdraw agitation and demonstration once the government withdraws the price hike. Although the government is showing international price as the reason behind the present price hike, this is not the only reason. Had the government checked the rampant corruption and misuse of resources within Nepal Oil Corporation, the price increase would have been avoided. Instead of checking corruption within NOC, the government chose the easy way out hiking the price of petroleum products. This is unacceptable for us. This is not an agenda of a single student union. All the students are behind our agitation. Along with the student unions, there are consumers, common people and civil society organizations.
The government is using all kinds of repressive methods to suppress the student agitation. Our colleagues have been arrested rampantly and police used the repressive methods. The government may have considered that the student agitation will be dispersed. It is their wrong assumption. We will compel the government to reverse its decision.
We are not against dialogue with the government but the government must fulfill our demands. If the government reverses the decision on price hike, we will sit together with the government and withdraw all our agitations. However, the government seems to be ignoring our genuine demands. Till now, our demand is just to reduce the price hike. If the stalemate continues and the government ignores our demand, we will turn our agitation towards the government.
Poudel is Former president of All Nepal Free Students Union