MPs hurt in clashes as Maoists cripple Kathmandu
Sporadic violence erupted and at least a dozen Maoist lawmakers and an ex-deputy prime minister were injured in clashes with security forces as Nepal's former Maoist guerrillas encircled the heart of the government in the capital Thursday and brought it to a standstill.world Updated: Nov 12, 2009 16:45 IST
Sporadic violence erupted and at least a dozen Maoist lawmakers and an ex-deputy prime minister were injured in clashes with security forces as Nepal's former Maoist guerrillas encircled the heart of the government in the capital Thursday and brought it to a standstill.
The eight roads leading to Singha Durbar, the enclave where the Prime Minister's Office and major ministries are located, were cut off by thousands of Maoists early Thursday with their chief, former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda leading the rally from near the army headquarters.
His two deputies, former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, led two more teams of marchers while other top Maoist leaders and lawmakers marched with cadres to paralyse the working of the coalition government.
Though Bhattarai, who is also the coordinator of the protests that started this month, had said the demonstration would be "peaceful, disciplined and dignified", skirmishes broke out between cadres and the hundreds of riot police who set up a human barricade against the government complex, near its southern gate, creating tension.
As the protesters pelted police with stones, the security forces retaliated by baton-charging the mob and firing several rounds of tear gas shells.
At least 12 Maoist parliamentarians - including former deputy prime minister Amik Sherchan and former information and communications minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara - were injured in the pell-mell.
Prachanda warned that stronger protests would follow if the government chose to ignore the crippling of its heart in the capital.
The former revolutionary said the government has to undo the step taken by President Ram Baran Yadav, who had reinstated the chief of the army their government had sacked earlier this year.
The protest, which would also continue Friday, saw the bustling Singha Durbar and its crowded neighbourhood deserted.
About five ministers, who reached their office braving the early morning mist and chill before 6 a.m. were able to enter the complex while the attendance of civil servants remained thin.
Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal himself was unable to attend office as he has been suffering from viral fever since the last two days and has been advised rest.
Finance Minister Surendra Pandey was among them who arrived in his office before the protests started.
The minister has been unable to get his budget approved by parliament as the Maoists have kept up a blockade of parliament since the fall of their government in May. The Nepal government is also facing a grave financial crisis with food stocks running out in remote districts and state hospitals reporting a scarcity of medicines.