Trustees of guthis (community trust) and the government have reached a gentlemen’s agreement on the issue of the guthi bill.
The Land Reform Ministry issued a statement after discussion with the trustees and elected representatives from the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday expressing commitment to move forward respecting the interest, concern and suggestions received on the bill. The statement also stressed that the ministry has prioritized protection and development of centuries of religious and cultural practices.
Unwritten in the statement, Land Reform Minister Padma Aryal also assured that the ministry will take initiative to amend the bill and start collecting necessary suggestions for that while the trustees will reciprocate to stop the protest.
Operators of guthis started protest programs against the bill saying the government has brought the bill to destroy the centuries-old practices and hand over the land owned by guthis to individuals. The government used excessive force against them at Maitighar Mandal on Sunday to exacerbate the situation.
Trustees during the discussion with Minister Aryal on Wednesday stated that Kathmandu will not survive if the bill is passed as it is. Lawmaker of the ruling CPN from Kathmandu Rambir Manandhar warned that protest in the capital should not be taken lightly and added that the bill should be amended.
“Our objective is not to attack on religion, culture and traditions. We can resolve this through discussion. Cut us some slack for not knowing things at times,” Minister Aryal stated after listening to the guthi operators and elected representatives who in turn pointed that the government should ask and discuss with the stakeholders concerned on issues it does not know.
Minister Aryal told the operators to come with point-wise suggestions for amendment of the bill and urged them to stop the protest programs. She pointed that the bill has already entered the parliamentary process and decisions cannot be taken immediately.
But the guthi operators refused saying the government which exacerbated the protests using excessive force should take initiative to stop it instead.
Minister Aryal then held separate discussion with the elected representatives to reach the gentlemen’s agreement.