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Maoists bring Kathmandu to a halt

Thousands of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist cadres on Thursday blocked entry points to Singha Durbar, the official seat of Nepal government, as part of a two-day protest to restore what they term “civilian supremacy”.

world Updated: Nov 13, 2009 02:21 IST
HT Correspondent

Thousands of Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist cadres on Thursday blocked entry points to Singha Durbar, the official seat of Nepal government, as part of a two-day protest to restore what they term “civilian supremacy”.

The protestors who blocked eight points leading to the principal government secretariat were led by top Maoist leaders including chairman and former Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, Mohan Vaidya “Kiran” and Baburam Bhattarai.

Normal life in the Nepalese capital was disrupted as Maoists chanting slogans against the government blocked all roads leading to Singha Durbar. Schools across the Kathmandu Valley and many offices remained closed.

“Today’s blockade should serve as a warning to the government...,” said Bimal Rana, a demonstrator.

“We will not rest till our demands are met.”

It was a sea of red as the protestors carrying red flags and wearing red bandanas blocked roads, danced, painted and sang in the biggest anti-government demonstration by Maoists since they lost power in May.

The demonstration, which started at 8 am and continued till 5 pm, was peaceful and a large posse of nearly 3,000 security personnel belonging to Nepal Police and Armed Police Force ensured that the protestors didn’t cross the restricted zone.

But the Maoists attempt to bring government work to a standstill by the Singha Durbar blockade didn’t have the desired effect as most ministers and senior officials had entered the complex before 8 am.

“I reached office early morning and am discharging my duties. The Maoists instead of making people suffer by their protests should try to find solution to their grievances in a constitutional manner,” said Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Deepak Bohara.

Picketing and demonstrations would continue on Friday as well. Earlier, the Maoists had disrupted work at district offices across the country and blocked entry and exit points to Kathmandu as part of their second phase of protest.

The Maoist-led government lost power in May after the president refused to approve sacking of the army chief. They are now protesting against the government and demanding an apology from the president for his “unconstitutional” move.