Nationwide blackout during the third phase of People’s Movement 1990

People’s Movement progresses towards its third phase

With more people pouring into the streets in the second phase than the first, and lesser arrests in the second phase emboldened leaders. Singh was convinced the movement was making an impact – first, more people were becoming a part of the historic movement, and second, authorities were softening.

Therefore, as soon as the planned activities of the second phase came to an end, Singh announced a third wave of protests.

Keeping the theme of Civil Disobedience in mind, they explored other proven ways of protesting against the Panchayat system:

  1. On 29th March, 1990, the people of Nepal were to participate in a nationwide blackout session. From 7:00 to 7:10 p.m., all households would switch off their lights in solidarity towards the People’s Movement.
  2. On 4th April, 1990, a prayer session was to be held in the memory of Nepal’s martyrs at all religious sites across the nation.
  3. On 9th April, 1990, the constitution of the partyless Panchayat system would be burnt across the nation as a protest against the system.

Singh’s questions:

While making the announcement of the third wave of protests, Singh in the capacity of the Supreme Leader of the People’s Movement in a speech asked the following questions:

– What kind of constitution is this Panchayat Constitution, which limits all forms of basic human rights?

– What kind of constitution is this, which treats all ideas, people and peaceful activities which do not align with the Panchayat’s narrative, as anti-national?

– What kind of constitution is this, where so-called public representatives are forced to work against their own ideas and conscience?

– What kind of constitution is this, where public representation is limited, and arbitrarily chosen public representatives, by their own free-will can take from the state coffers what they wish to?

Posing such questions, Singh wished to evoke the minds of the people towards the injustice of the Panchayat system, and therefore encouraged the people to speak against the constitution that allowed such practices.

Nationwide blackout:

On 26th March, 1990, three days ahead of the planned blackout, and coinciding with the annual Ghode Jatra celebrations in Tundikhel, protesters found another interesting way to protest. During the annual observations at Tundikhel, which was attended by the royal family, along with important state officials, and other international dignitaries, a large number of balloons bearing the colors of Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal were seen soaring across the open Tundikhel sky.

That was three days before the blackout. On the planned day of the blackout, protesters were busy disseminating the message – either via flyers, amplifiers, or through simple word of mouth. And at sharp, 7:00 PM on 29th March, 1990, the lights across the nation went out.

The nationwide blackout on 29th March, 1990 helped the People’s Movement reach new heights. Members of the public, who were earlier either unwilling or unable to participate in the movement, found an easier way to express their solidarity.

With the blackout, slogans against the Panchayat system could be heard almost from all homes, and many people also took out torch rallies from their neighbourhoods.

Other planned activities of the third wave of protests took place as scheduled, and with great fervor. On 3rd and 4th April, 1990, thousands of protesters from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur gathered to declare their respective districts free zones.

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