Lessons to learn from Koshi’s three controversial incidents

Bibek Bibas Regmi 20 Apr 2024
Lessons to learn from Koshi’s three controversial incidents

ITAHARI: Local administration had to enforce prohibitory orders and use force to control three controversial incidents in Koshi Province since August last year. This has also sent a message that every individual needs to be responsible for maintaining social harmony.

On August 26 last year, people took to the streets in Dharan of Sunsari after a video claiming that a cow was butchered and a communal feast was organized went viral on social media. The District Administration Office, Sunsari, promptly enforced prohibitory orders in Dharan anticipating the potential risk from the demonstration. Strict security measures were put in place across the district and entry to Dharan from other parts of the district was restricted.

Likewise, on April 5, the local administration imposed prohibitory orders in Harinagar and Dewangunj rural municipalities in the southern parts of Sunsari district. The orders were issued after a dispute escalated following an attack on a youth of Harinagar by an unidentified group. Sunsari remained tense for nearly a week due to a dispute between two religious communities.

Three days ago, similar incidents repeated in the Rani area of Biratnagar Municipality. A clash erupted after a group obstructed a rally taken out on the occasion of Ram Navami festival in Biratnagar-15. The Rani area became tense after the dispute between the two groups escalated. The police had to fire some rounds in the air and lob tear gas shells to take the situation under control. The Sunsari administration has imposed a ban on assemblies and gatherings in the area until further notice.

These three incidents in Koshi Province in the last nine months have become a topic of discussion across the country. Such incidents have raised concerns about potential conflicts, while also affecting the daily lives of the local people.

Analysts say that not only state agencies but individuals also have a significant responsibility in controlling such incidents. They are of the view that such incidents occur when one fails to accept the existence of others, misuses social media and attempts to hurt the beliefs of other people.

Analyst Dr. Rajendra Sharma suggested that people abandon the tendency of not accepting others’ existence. “It is necessary to control the intolerant nature within us,” he added.

Sharma added that social media outlets have become a medium to disturb the consciousness of ordinary citizens in recent times. “The misuse of social media, YouTubers inciting gullible Nepalis and the growing intolerance in us after the political change of 2006 has led to an increase in such incidents,” he added.

According to Sharma, the influence of neighbors is evident in the occurrence of such incidents in Nepal. “When neighbors incite us, it raises questions about our educational standards. It is necessary to learn that social harmony is a sensitive issue,” he added.

Sharma says that such incidents also occur when those involved in journalism abandon their professional ethics. “The situation deteriorates if journalists and YouTubers act contrary to the code of conduct,” he added. “Those running YouTube channels are fueling incidents by not understanding the sensitivity of the subject matter for the sake of views and subscribers.” He added that people are losing their level of consciousness in the name of freedom of expression.

Harsha Subba, a senior journalist based in Sunsari, says that such incidents are occurring as individuals lacking knowledge of the journalistic code of conduct are establishing themselves in the mass communication sector. “People who do not know which information affects society, which information promotes social harmony, and which information creates a topic of debate in society have entered the media scene,” Subba said. “Those who post videos of whatever one says on social media without considering implications are creating problems.”

According to Subba, the lack of moral understanding that one should not infringe upon others’ rights while exercising one’s rights is creating problems. “YouTubers may not have malicious intent. But the content they are disseminating is fueling conflict,” he said. “We all need to be cautious and ensure that the content that we are sharing is not making a negative impact on society.”

“Social media have reached the grassroots level of society but digital awareness has not. A legal mechanism might be needed to make social media users disciplined,” he said. “Intellectuals in society should also engage in civilized discussions on this issue. Aren’t we just chasing the wrong things?”

Suman Kumar Timsina, the spokesperson for the Biratnagar-based Koshi Province Police Office in Biratnagar, said that people who disrupt social harmony are being monitored. “We have used police personnel to gather information and are monitoring every sector,” Timsina said. “There have been no incidents of harm so far because police personnel are alert to activities that could affect social harmony.”

He said that the support of civil society, political parties and local organizations is equally necessary in this regard.

Published On: 20 Apr 2024


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