800 detained in pro-democracy protests in Nepal

Published on May 09, 2004 08:14 PM IST

Police detained at least 800 people today as they broke up protests against King Gyanendra led by women and ethnic minority activists in Nepal's capital, said witnesses and police.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, Kathmandu

Police detained at least 800 people today as they broke up protests against King Gyanendra led by women and ethnic minority activists in Nepal's capital, witnesses and police said.

Nearly 1,500 women linked to opposition parties marched through Kathmandu chanting "Down with autocratic rule" but were stopped by police who drove them to detention centres, witnesses said.

Former member of parliament Vidhya Bhandari, telephoning reporters from detention, said more than 1,000 women were detained. Police, however, put the figure at between 250 and 300.

In a separate incident, riot police rounded up more than 500 people who took part in a 4,000-strong demonstration against the king led by ethnic minority activists, witnesses said.

The pro-royal government on April 8 banned demonstrations in Kathmandu after tens of thousands took to the streets demanding that King Gyanendra, who sacked the elected government in October 2002, restore parliamentary democarcy.

The government said the protests could be infiltrated by Maoist rebels who control much of the countryside. Most demonstrators are released within hours of being detained.

King Gyanendra has offered to hold elections by April 2005, but the opposition parties want the dismissal of the royalist prime minister, Surya Bahadur Thapa.

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