The Nation-wide Students Movement of 1979:
 

In active collaboration of US imperialism a neo-colonial "new education system plan" was imposed in 1972. It accentuated the already acute corruption, nepotism, forgery, economic exploitations, soaring prices, unemployment etc. This imposed upon student the exorbitantly priced textbooks and certain kind of uniforms. High tuition fee and cutting down the number of student entrance in the pretext of bringing down educated unemployment made the education out of reach of the common people. This new education-plan imposed upon students' internal assessment, semester system, comprehensive test and extravagant curriculum to hook them up out of situation of the country and the world and from the common people. For the same reason the right to form free students' organization was all deprived of. The hullabaloo about the "new education plan" laying emphasis on national, scientific and vocational education and building skilled manpower turned out to be a fiasco. Instead, the students are being strangled in superstition worship of expropriators and oppressors- domestic and foreign. Separating away from the real life of the common people, they are being taught salivate to rulers. The so-called vocational education turned to be most impractical wherein all subjects are abruptly cut off skilled manpower, the "plan" is to produce for the reactionary regime such selfish bureaucrat who do not possess commonest human traits like judgment, morality and an ideal; instead of imparting national, scientific education, the plan is to dismantle the fine tradition of the Nepalese people, tamper underfoot the national viewpoint and culture and shake up the vigilance for democratic rights.

Mid 1975 saw the struggle against "new education plan". Though initially dealing with the educational problems, the movement was spearheaded against imperialism, expansionism and their domestic collaborators the Panchayati rulers. the 4-months long arduous struggle compelled the reactionary Government and the Tribhuvan University to submit to the students' important demands including that for the Union with a constitution prepared by the students themselves. But after the strike, notorious things took place. The reactionary agents who sneaked into the movement were biting wire pulled to create uncalled for violence in the campuses, brick batting and ruffianism among the students, bringing in the state of terror and tension. In such a crucial moment, the progressive students should have maintained farsightedness and exposed the pre-ponderous crimes. On their failure to do so, the reactionary Government took away what they had already fulfilled. Their commitments were withdrawn. This followed the direct control and ruthless suppression in the field of education by the reactionary government. Several independent minded teachers were sacked and student leaders were arrested. Thereafter, assessing and overcoming their shortcomings one by one, the students threw themselves in the preparation for forthcoming struggle. This resulted in the struggle to walk out the classes by the students of Maharajagunj campus in Feb. 1979 and the struggle of Law campus against Police and Mandalite ruffians at the same time. These and other stray incidents of student struggles heralded and undercurrent precede a nation-wide surge.

Here, some incidents were following the movement of 1975 merit particular attention. At that time, discussions and efforts were undergoing to reorganize the ANNFSU, rallying around the progressive, democratic and patriotic students, who were active during the movement. But the leadership of political faction at the mean time adopted a vicious policy with an ulterior motive to make ANNFSU his or her own sole mass organization. In total disregard of the mass of progressive, democratic and patriotic students, they formed a one-man preparatory committee and organized a so called fifth national conference in 1976 at Ayodhya, India, with 20/22 progressive students subscribing to their political group. In this way, though that factional leadership did a positive act in organizing a part of progressive, democratic and patriotic student masses and fielding them in the student movement, their wrong policies led to a sharp division and enmity among the students of common ideology, breaking up of the united strength of progressive, democratic and patriotic students and creating illusion and confusion among the people, thus assisting the domestic and foreign reactionaries. Any unbiased person will, assessing with an objective viewpoint, find more losses than advantages from the so-called fifth conference.

With the back ground of the heightened consciousness and vigorous strength, the students made a decision to hand over a protest letter to the Pakistani embassy on 5th April 1976 in protest against the hanging up of the Ex-prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan by the military dictator Zia Ul Haque. After a protest rally in the Tri-chandra campus, the demonstrators were advancing peacefully towards the Embassy. But at Lainchour, the police appeared and wantonly lathicharged over the students. This kind of police barbarity shot up the instigation of the student community. At no time the students rolled up their sleeves to launch up at it for tat struggle against the Panchayati government. Panic-stricken by this preparation, the Mandalite reactionary jumped out against the mass of students'. At the same time, all other students' boycotted the class on 27th April. The following day they organised campus action committees along with 24-point formula. The helmeted polices were being powered over the meeting, demonstrations and the gatherings of students. The students were being arrested for no reasons. On the failure to check the serge of students by police atrocity alone, the Government resorted the Mandalite ruffians armed with such fatal weapons as daggers, chains and steel rods.

On 22nd April, the fighting students held a mass meeting in Ascol Campus. In fact, Ascol was in the forefront from the beginning of the movement. The police and the Mandalites also made it their target of attack and attempted to ransack the hostel. So they made a plan to attack that time also. On the other hand the 4-5 thousand students decided to carry on the struggle till their demands were met, to shatter the Mandalits and to punish the agents (spies). At the mean time thousands of armed police encircled the hostel. The police with teargas and baton charge wantonly attacked the demonstration, which started to proceed peacefully. The fighting students resisted violently. But since the police reinforcements were added constantly, it became more logical to pull back. The frontline students did their level best to cover and pull back most of the students. In course of the repression, the police picked up several students from their sickbed and threw out of the windows. They broke up the glass windowpanes and cassette tape-recorders and radios of the students and wristwatches, rings and cash were shamelessly looted. They barbarously arrested more than 300 persons, several of them with serious injuries. As a result of barber suppression and heroic resistance, the floor of the hostel was painted crimson with the student's blood. The struggle of the Ascol students against the police fills up an outstanding chapter in the history of the Nepalese student movement. The mass of people rendered warm support to this struggle of the students. Some people sheltered as big a crowd as a group of 50 students serving hideouts from them. Several women tore-up their saris to bandage the bleeding heads of the students. This kind of revolutionary unity and co-operation between the students and the people from other walks of life will be engraved in the history of the students' movement forever.

In order to check the surge of the movement and cover up their crimes, on 1st May 1979, the so-called "Royal Investigation commission" was formed. On being pressed by the mass of students and other people, all of the students were released. The self-proclaimed forerunner of the Nepalese democratic movement the Nepali Congress and their leaders, the Russian lackeys the Royal Commission worked in collusion thus assisting directly and indirectly to the Panchayati government in opposing and suppressing the people's movement. A number of leftists wavered too. But not the progressive people advanced wave upon wave. On 6th May, a peasant demonstration at Patan along with the students vehemently condemned the Government atrocities and displayed great unity between the workers, peasants and students. On 10th May, another mass meeting was held in Saugal, Patan that exposed the swindlers claiming their leadership of the movement from their Indian base. It also exposed the phony "central action committee" and called for the vigilance of the progressive, democratic and patriotic students against possible plot and deception.

The struggles were going on all over the country. There were torch demonstrations in Bhaktapur besides the widespread posturing against the self-proclaimed action committee. Among the historical struggles, the struggle launched by the students of the Bhutandevi High School and participated by workers and other people in Hetauda was remarkable. The Government resorted to its notorious means-the batons and bullets. The demonstrations participated by about 50 thousand students, peasants and the workers of the Hetauda Industrial District held on 26th and 27th April were want only fired at by the murderous Panchayati Government. In total 80 students, peasants and workers lost their lives; several others were injured. The whole spot was soaked with the demonstrators' blood. This was the most ruthless and biggest massacre perpetrated by the reactionaries during the student movement. In the memory of fallen heroes, the people of Hetauda named the spot as Martyrs' square.         

In Chitawan, the student of Bharatpur campus demonstrated on seventh may, shouting slogans against the Panchayat government. The firing by the police murderers, there killed several peasants and students. Resistance struggles and protest demonstrations of such places as Dhanusa, Mahottari, Bara etc. were remarkable. The students along with peasants and workers also held protest rallies and resistance struggles in Biratnagar, Dharan, Ilam, Birgunj, Rautahat, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Dang, Surkhet, Pokhara, etc. Thus the spark lit in the Kathmandu valley turned into a periphery of the nation-wide struggle. Virtually all Campuses, secondary schools of the majority of districts, ridiculous better cut off tiny tots of some KG and primary schools joined the struggle.

Meanwhile on learning that the renegades of the self-proclaimed central action committee had made a call without consulting the participating students to stop the movement, the students raised some questions to them in the mass meeting of Patan on 20th May. Answer-less, they slipped out. Their betrayal was fully exposed in front of the masses. The mass meeting held at Tri-chandra Campus aptly declared the so-called action committee as a bunch of renegades and decided to carry on the struggle. Another mass meeting was held in Ascol, on 22nd May. Following the meeting, two of the leaders of the "action committee" were made to confess their betrayal and taken in procession with blackened faces, garland of shoes and clad with jute bags, they were seated over a push cart. About 50 thousands people acclaimed the act of punishment and participated in the procession. At New Road Gate the police intervened with teargas and batons, which called forth the indignation of the mass of people. The angered crowd launched a tit for tat struggle. Indeed the armed police was insufficient and incapable to trample upon the people of Kathmandu. The Royal Army was called in for reinforcements. Bullets were showered all over and curfew was clamped. Kathmandu was virtually in the grip of the army for the whole night. Several people lost their lives in this suppression and a number of people were injured. In the early morning of 23rd May, the "Referendum" call was made for the selection of party less or multiparty system of government. Behind the announcement lies the ulterior motive to tone down the people's struggle and save the tyrannical Panchayati regime. The mass of students continued to expose the deceptive announcement' they pressed on with their demands for the release of the students being arrested on 22nd May; and they Kept boycotting the classes for several days. Thereafter began the new start to asses the student movement, organising the unions mustering up the strength in opposition of the tyrannical Panchayati system to attain democratic rights, unconditional release of all the political prisoners, and opposition of the unequal treaties to the detriment of national integrity. The outcome of the painstaking preparation by the mass of progressive democratic and patriotic students was the historic Fifth National Conference of Unity of the ANNFSU, successfully held on 22-23 and 24 April 1980 at Chabahil, Kathmandu. Participated by over 600 student delegates and observers from 63 out of the 75 districts of the country, the conference charted the broad road of struggle ahead for the Nepalese Students' movement till a just society is established in our motherland and imperialists and hegemonists are being defeated out of international arena.
 

 

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