Maoist fighter held with grenade ahead of indefinite shutdown
Ahead of an indefinite nationwide general strike announced by Nepal's former guerrillas to press for the ouster of the current government, a combatant of their People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been arrested with a grenade, police said.world Updated: Apr 27, 2010 11:54 IST
Ahead of an indefinite nationwide general strike announced by Nepal's former guerrillas to press for the ouster of the current government, a combatant of their People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been arrested with a grenade, police said.
Santosh Rai, a PLA soldier from the cantonment in Udaypur district, was caught in Chitwan in southern Nepal Tuesday.
Rai was carrying a grenade and a khukuri, the traditional curved dagger used by the Gorkha soldiers, and was on his way to Kathmandu.
The arrest comes on the heels of reports that the Maoists, who have called an indefinite general strike from May 2, are bringing droves of cadre into the capital after giving them paramilitary training and arming them.
They are also said to be on a ferocious extortion drive to raise funds for a show of might in the capital and key towns May 1.
Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda dismissed the reports Monday, calling them deliberate propaganda by the government in a bid to "ruthlessly suppress" his party's protests.
Prachanda said the cadre were given training to maintain law and order during the May Day mass meetings and that the protests would remain peaceful from his party's side.
A delegation of EU ambassadors have met Prachanda to express concern at the raised political tensions and urged him to make concessions in order to avoid a crisis.
They said they were deeply concerned at the demonstration planned for May 1 and the impact on the economy and tourism the general strike threatened from May 2 would have as well as reports of physical training being given to cadre, and the risk of a confrontation.
The PLA fought a 10-year war against the government but decided to lay down arms after a peace pact in 2006.
Since then, over 19,600 PLA soldiers have been living in cantonments monitored by the UN. They are not allowed to carry weapons except those authorised to do so for the protection of the cantonments and the party's top leaders.