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Human rights group decries Balen's 'violence' against street vendors


 |  Kathmandu

Hundreds of scrap traders staged a demonstration demanding justice in the Kathmandu Valley on Sunday.

Human rights defenders including Kanak Mani Dixit, Kundan Aryal, and Sushil Pyakurel have taken strong exception to the series of atrocities committed by the functionaries of Kathmandu Metropolitan City led by Major Balendra Shah.

In an open letter publicly shared with Mayor Balendra Shah on Sunday, the human rights defenders condemned the recent prohibition on street vendors plying their business, calling it an unjust and inhuman action.

" We strongly condemn this criminal and violent incident on the part of the city police, and such deliberate use of excessive force cannot be justified under any circumstances. It is illegal, and has no moral validity," said the human rights defenders.

They, in the open letter, mentioned further that on the evening of February 28, 2024, a Kathmandu metropolis police team attacked street vendors in the Sundhara locality, destroying goods and carrying out uncontrolled beatings which seriously injured many.

In the letter, human rights defenders accuse Mayor Balen of being directly or indirectly responsible for the violent attacks on street vendors. They further criticized municipal officials for attempting to spread misinformation by distorting the truth about the incident and protecting those involved in the violence.

"Circumstantial evidence points to the fact that the action against the street vendors happened under your direct or indirect orders, and under an atmosphere of impunity that you have created," they said invoking Articles 16 and 22 of the Constitution of Nepal which prohibit serious human rights violations including torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.

Stating that torture is prohibited under any circumstances in situations of both war and peace and it even attracts ‘universal jurisdiction’ beyond our country’s borders, they urge Mayor Shah to be accountable as per his responsibilities and to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Meanwhile, they also ask the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to abandon its exclusionary mindset and discriminatory policies directed towards disadvantaged citizens including street vendors, to respect and protect their right to self-esteem, dignity, and livelihood.



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