POKHARA, May 10: Around 150 foreign tourists travelling to Pokhara were left stranded on Prithvi Highway on Thursday after protesters obstructed their vehicles, leaving them without food and water for hours.
The foreign visitors were stranded as supporters of banda called by the joint struggle committee comprising groups of different castes, blocked their vehicles in Gagangaud, around 15 km from Pokhara.
As a result, many had to remain empty stomach throughout the day.
"Around 23 German tourists who were supposed to have lunch at my hotel at 1pm had to stay hungry the whole day," Om Prakash Pandey, promoter of Landmark Hotel in Pokhara, told Republica. "They were very annoyed."
Although drivers of around two dozen vehicles carrying tourists tried to explain their situation, the protesters refused to relent, according to Harka Magarati, a driver. "They threatened us of flattening the tires of our vehicles if we didn´t hand over the keys," he said.
After it became obvious that they would remain stuck there for quite some time, the drivers tried to arrange food for tourists, but most of the shops were closed. "Many who were thirsty couldn´t even find water to drink," Magarati said.
Magarati described the entire episode as a nightmare for the foreign visitors who were in Nepal to enjoy a vacation.
Tikaram Sapkota, president of Pokhara Tourism Council, said he tried to persuade the protestors to let the tourist vehicles pass. "But they were adamant," Sapkota said. “When I sought help from the police, they too acted indifferently.”
Superintendent of Police Sailesh Thapa, chief of Kaski District Police Office, said: "We didn´t want to intervene as we feared it would incite protesters and the situation would go out of control."