LAHAN, Dec 10: Last year, a local of Mahottari district opened 'Maharaja Hotel' in Mirchiya market, Siraha. To his great happiness, it soon became popular among consumers. He felt that he would be able to recover his investment within a year. Everything was going smooth in his life and suddenly, Madhesh turned into a protest zone four months ago.
Madhesi Morcha announced indefinite strike in the region landing his business in severe trouble. "The hotel was not just a business. That was my dream, my life. The agitation snatched everything from me," said the middle aged man requesting anonymity, because he fears retaliation for agitating groups.
Santosh Yadav from Pawanpuri, Siraha, always wanted to be his own boss. No matter how small, he wanted to run his own business. He opened a general store and was happy that he was earning pretty well. The country's politics always appeared 'unpredictable' to him, however, he was least aware that Madhes would again agitate to the current extent. After Madhesi Morcha began to impose banda in the region without break, Yadav understood that small scale businesses like his won't survive. "I had thought that matter would be solved through talk. However, it soon dawned to me that it was not going to be so simple. So, I shut down my shop," he said.
Yadav closed his store a month ago. He sold off all the goods he had, but that was not enough to pay the bank loan. "Businessmen like us are the worst sufferers. Banda ruined our life," he said.
According to Sunil Kumar Mahato, president of FNCCI, Siraha, prolonged agitation has rendered thousands of people in Madhes jobless. "Hardest hit are the small and middle scale businesses," he said.
A businessman from Lahan, Ashok Lal Amatya stated that some businesses have suffered so deeply that there is no chance of these coming to life back again. "The impact has been wide and deep. The agitation went on for so long that it crashed many businesses without any hope to recover," he said. "If no improvement is seen soon, entire country's economy would be hit badly," he added. Amatya further stated that divide and rule policy of the political parties is apparent and that's the biggest worry in Madhes these days. "If they really wanted solution, the Madhes based parties and the government would sincerely sit for talk and reach an understanding. It seems that they just want to prolong the tension," he said. Amatya also expressed dissatisfaction that businesspersons have to pay tax to the government irrespective of the situation and facilities they get.
Another businessman who believes that Madhes banda totally destroyed businesspersons is Sahaikanta Chaudhari. "It ruined their businesses. It ruined their lives," he said. "Bank loan, payment to staffs, house rent and other expenditure, from where are these expenses going to be managed?" he questioned.
Meanwhile, Professor Namonarayan Jha urged the government to notice the gravity of the problem and act sensibly. Stating that the government has failed to understand the sentiment of the Madhesi people, he said that the state should be able to take the community, which feels alienated, into confidence. "If any party agitates, that's the dissatisfaction against the state and it is the duty of the government to bring it to its side," he said.
Civil society leader Binod Shah added that there should be alternative of banda even if agitators want to put pressure on the government. "Now, it's too much. The banda should come to an end. The same community is suffering for whom the agitation is said to have been launched. Madhes is in severe pain, all concerned parties should find peaceful solution to their concerns without delay," he said.