Kathmandu: A Maoist-enforced anti-government
general strike crippled life across Nepal on Sunday, with markets,
educational institutions and businesses remaining shut and
supporters of the former rebels disrupting vehicular movement,
leading to the arrest of at least 37 protesters.
Maoist cadres also forced the Kalimati Vegetable and
Fruits Market, the main supply centre of Kathmandu, not to
operate during the shutdown.
On the first day of the three-day general strike, both
private and public vehicles remained off roads and people were
seen taking long walks to reach their offices. Over 16
vehicles were vandalised by protesters in Kathmandu and
Schools, colleges, major markets and most of the
factories remained closed and vehicular movement halted during
the strike. However, police vans, tourist buses, ambulances
and press vehicles were seen on roads amid tight security.
This is the third shutdown called by the former rebels
within a month, demanding restoration of "civilian supremacy"
and rectification of President Ram Baran Yadav`s move to
reinstate then army chief Rukmangad Katwal in May that had led
to the fall of the Maoist government.
In Kathmandu, police arrested at least two dozen people
from the Pashupatinath temple area as they were trying to
force the shops to shut down.
Agitators vandalised over a dozen vehicles in various
places in Kathmandu for defying the strike, according to the
Protesters also threw stones at two cars in Baneshwor and
Putalisadak areas for defying the strike, according to the
police. In the famous tourist spot of Pokhara, Maoist
activists attacked a pick-up van and a taxi.
Another 12 Maoist cadres were arrested from Saptari
district in southern Nepal, police said, adding one more
protester was held elsewhere during the strike.
Earlier on Saturday, a Cabinet meeting chaired by acting
Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar decided to ask Maoists
to withdraw their strike and come forward to resolve the issue
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was yet to return home
after attending the UN conference of world leaders on climate
change in Copenhagen.
The Cabinet meeting also asked the Maoists to be sincere
to the peace process and drafting of the new Constitution.
The government urged the former rebels not to carry out
unlawful activities, like capturing public and private
Riot police have been heavily mobilised in the capital
and other important cities to prevent any untoward incidents.