Street violence erupts in Nepal amid public anger over strike

Street violence erupted in the Nepalese capital and outlying districts Thursday as public anger grew over an indefinite strike by the Maoists that has shut down the country for the past five days.

Kathmandu: Street violence erupted in the
Nepalese capital and outlying districts today as public anger
grew over an indefinite strike by the Maoists that has shut
down the country for the past five days, with residents
clashing with the former rebels.

Two people were reported killed as locals defying the
Maoists cadres attempted to open their commercial
establishments, attend offices and send their children to
schools, triggering clashes with the former rebels in which
cars were torched and building damaged.

As political crisis deepened in the county over
Maoists demands for a change in government, the party
strongman Prachanda met Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood.

The meeting in the wake of efforts being made by
ruling coalition government to diffuse the crisis by feelers
to the Maoists came at a time when main Opposition has stepped
up anti-India rhetoric.

The Maoists did not disclose the details of the
meeting at Prachanda`s residence at Nayabazaar in the Capital.

Nepalese political leaders are struggling to meet a
May 28 deadline to finish the drafting of a new constitution
as stipulated by the peace process that brought the civil war
to an end in 2006.

The Maoists, who have around 35 per cent of the seats
in parliament, want the government disbanded, followed by
the formation of a new coalition government led by them to
rescue the peace process and draft a new constitution.

The parleys between the ruling coalition and the
Maoists are yet end the political deadlock and the people`s
ire is growing as they struggle with acute shortages of
essential supplies.

The police said a number of clashes took place between
the anti-Maoists demonstrators and Maoists supporters and at
places tear gas shells were burst and baton charge resorted to
separate the warring groups.

Police said two people were killed in the strike
related violence in Kathmandu and Makawanpur district in
central Nepal.

A Maoist cadre was killed after being hit by a
motorcycle ridden by a security personnel in Kalanki of
Kathmandu Tuesday night during a demonstration and a Youth
Force cadre affiliated to ruling CPN-UML died in clashes with
the Maoists in Makawanpur yesterday.

Scores of Indian tourists have been stranded at Beni
in Myagdi district of northern Nepal due to the general strike
launched by Maoists to topple the 22-party government.

More than 100 tourists returning from trekking in
Dhaulagiri and Jomsom areas in northern Nepal have been
stranded in Beni, according to Nepal Tourism Board.

In Nepal`s southern town of Birgunj, activists of
Hindu Youth Association organised a rally to oppose the
Maoists` protests. They also stormed the City Hall where the
Maoists were running a mess to feed their cadres and
vandalised a vehicle used by them.

In Budhanilkantha in the outskirt of Kathmandu, the
locals organised anti-Maoist demonstrations and also opened
some shops defying the strike.

In Mahottari and Sunsari districts, the local traders
protested against the Maoist agitation and opened shops.

In Mustang district in the northern Nepal, village
panchayat chief issued order not to close down shops and
to retaliate if Maoists resorted to violence.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement United Nations
Children Emergency Fund and Office of the High Commissioner
for Human Rights in Nepal have expressed serious concern over
the use of children in agitation by the Maoists.

UCPN-Maoist formed Nepal`s first post-royal government
in August 2008 after the former rebels emerged as the largest
party in the April constituent assembly polls.

Political tensions have been high in Nepal since the
government led by the Maoists resigned last year amid a
dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav over the reinstatement
of former army chief Rukmangad Katawal, who was dismissed by
the Prachanda-led government last May.