Activists vow to march in Capital despite Govt ban
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Activists vow to march in Capital despite Govt ban

Pro-democracy activists vowed to hold a mass rally in Kathmandu despite the royal Govt's ban on demonstrations in Nepal.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 11:08 IST

Pro-democracy activists vowed to hold a mass rally on Wednesday in Kathmandu despite the royal government's ban on demonstrations in Nepal's capital, as protests escalated against King Gyanendra's rule.

Protesters planned to march from several points and converge in the centre of Kathmandu for a mass protest rally, said Subash Nemwang of the Communist Party of Nepal, a member of a seven-party alliance that is demanding that the king restore democracy.

There was no immediate word from the royal government on whether it planned to continue a daytime curfew in the capital for a fifth day, but officials have insisted they will not allow any rallies inside the city.

"We will defy the curfew and all restrictions imposed by this regime and we will march to the heart of the capital to demand democracy," Nemwang said.

Dozens of protesters were wounded in clashes on Tuesday following days of increasingly violent confrontations between security forces and protesters demanding King Gyanendra give up power.

A nationwide general strike called by the alliance stretched to a week on Wednesday, with transport, schools and businesses still shut down.

The civil aviation authority said airports were open and flights were operating mostly on schedule, but passengers were forced to walk to the airport because of the few vehicles on the road.

The government said it was banning strikes in essential services such as transport, hospitals, communication, distribution of fuel, banking and tourism, and that violators would be punished.

On Tuesday, protesters marched from an area on the edge of the capital not covered by the strict curfew rules toward a line of police and began throwing stones.

When the protesters didn't retreat, police in turn charged at them with batons, fired tear gas and sometimes shot rubber bullets.

A small clinic near the scene of the clash treated about 130 injured protesters, including four in serious condition, said Keshar Karki, a clinic employee.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal said in a statement on Tuesday that security forces were "using excessive force against demonstrators," noting that peaceful protests had been violently broken up and people faced "severe" beatings even after violent demonstrations had been brought under control.

Since last Thursday, there have been daily protests and clashes with security forces throughout the country.

Security forces have killed three protesters and jailed more than 1,000 since then.

The royal government has responded to the continuing protests by imposing a daytime curfew in Kathmandu and two other towns, which have been at the centre of the rallies.

The King seized direct power in February last year, saying he needed to crush a growing communist insurgency, which aims to replace the monarchy with a communist state.

First Published: Apr 12, 2006 11:08 IST