200 Maoists arrested in protest against new Nepal Constitution

  • PTI, Kathmandu
  • Updated: Jul 24, 2015 18:35 IST
A Nepalese porter stands in front of closed stores during a general strike called by a splinter faction of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal Maoist, in Kathmandu, Nepal. A nationwide general strike enforced by the splinter faction against the drafting of a new constitution has crippled normal life across Nepal. (AP Photo)

Nearly 200 hardline Maoists were arrested in Nepal on Friday in a nationwide strike against the drafting of a new Constitution and a deal between India and China to boost border trade through Lipu-Lekh Pass. They had torched vehicles and forced schools and shops to shut down.

Public vehicles remained off the roads while major markets and educational institutions were forced to shut down in Kathmandu and other major cities in the strike called by hardline CPN-Maoist (Chand), led by Netra Bikram Chand.

Hundreds of security personnel were deployed in Kathmandu and surrounding areas to prevent violence during the protest, the first national strike since a devastating quake hit the country in April.

Police have rounded up 190 agitating Maoist activists from Kathmandu and other surrounding areas for blocking roads and resorting to vandalism, police said.

The agitating activists torched several vehicles during the protest, police said, adding that no casualties had been reported so far.

The nation-wide strike was called to oppose the Constitution drafting process initiated by the four major political forces, the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic after inking a 16-point deal.

Nepal's Maoists struck a deal with rival parties on the new Constitution last month after years of bitter disagreement.

But the breakaway faction of the party said the deal betrays the principles of the Maoists, who fought a decade-long civil war with the state that ended in 2006 and led to the abolition of a centuries-old feudal monarchy.

The demonstrators alleged that the Constitution does not address the problems of the ethnic, racial and gender discrimination.

The Maoist activists were also opposing an agreement between India and China to boost border trade at Qiangla/Lipu-Lekh Pass, close to an area which Nepal claims to be part of its territory.

Lipu-Lekh Pass, the last point of Nepal's border with China and India and known as an ancient route for traders and pilgrims transiting between Nepal and Tibet, is a far western point, near Kalapani, which is a disputed border area between Nepal and India.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's China visit in May, India and China agreed to expand border trade at Lipu-Lekh Pass.

The bandh enforcers today also vandalised a passenger bus in Maharajgunj and a milk-van in Gongobu, police said.

The strike also crippled life in Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Banepa, Palpa and Hetauda.

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