Maoist strike paralyses life in Nepal; 37 arrested
Last Updated: Sunday, December 20, 2009, 12:21
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 outside districts.

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 police.

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 through dialogue.

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 properties.

Riot police have been heavily mobilised in the capital and other important cities to prevent any untoward incidents.


First Published: Sunday, December 20, 2009, 12:21

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