Several Nepal districts were crippled with thousands of passengers stranded and essential supplies coming from India affected as transporters called for an indefinite strike in eastern Nepal to protest alleged police harassment.
Life came to a virtual standstill in the tea garden districts of Ilam and Jhapa bordering India, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's home district Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Morang and Udaypur after four transport unions called for a strike from Sunday.
It was a double blow for districts like Sunsari and Morang, where the strike had been enforced since Saturday, to pressure the government into reining in police forces.
The trouble stemmed from an accident last month when a bus ran over a cyclist, killing him. The bus driver was arrested and charged with deliberately reversing his vehicle and going over the fallen cyclist once again to ensure his death.
According to Nepal's laws, an injured pedestrian means greater penalty for the driver, who has to bear the cost for medical treatment. As a result, several cases of the killer vehicle reversing to run over the victim again have been reported.
Transporters, however, say the bus driver was forced by police to confess to having committed the crime.
Four unions collectively called the strike saying the government had ignored their proposal to hold talks on the issue.
The strike comes just before a Terai shutdown call given by a renegade Maoist faction.
The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha, once a Maoist outfit, broke away from the parent organisation and began a series of killings, abductions and extortions. The Morcha, which claims to be fighting for the rights of the people in the plains who are ignored in Nepal's administrative, judicial and military organisations, has called a Terai closure from Jan 12.
Last month, the outfit called a blockade in the southern plains, killing a bus passenger and injuring at least two.