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'Black Day' to mark coup anniversary in Nepal

Nepal looked back in anger on the bloodless coup by King Gyanendra on the same date a year ago, marking it as a Black Day.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 11:35 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Nepal on Wednesday looked back in anger on the bloodless coup by King Gyanendra on the same date a year ago, marking it as a "Black Day" with widespread protests by people from all walks of life.

The first anniversary of Gyanendra's direct rule dawned with a sense of déjà vu with the state media announcing the king would address the nation on Wednesday morning.

It was through such a televised address on February 1, 2005, that the king dissolved the government of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and set himself up as the head of a new cabinet nominated by him.

Though it was not mentioned in the royal address, a state of emergency followed for nearly three months with the suspension of civil rights.

Telephone lines were cut, political leaders put under arrest and draconian curbs imposed on the media.

A year later, conditions are more or less the same.

Since last month, the royalist government began widespread arrest of political activists, human right defenders and journalists.

On Tuesday, several hundreds of protesters, including 72 women, were arrested for taking out anti-king rallies.

The protesters said they would keep up their agitation.

Seven major opposition parties that began an anti-king agitation since February 2005, have locked horns with the monarch once again, announcing they would stage a march with black flags here, ending in a mass rally at Basantapur, the site of clashes between security forces and protesters last month.

Demonstrations have been banned in key areas of the capital since Jan 19 and the government also imposed day curfew to prevent a protest the next day.

Tension began mounting on Wednesday with fears of further violence.

Student organisations, human rights activists and civil society members have also announced a series of protest rallies across the country on Wednesday to demand the restoration of freedom, postponement of controversial elections scheduled for Feb 8 and beginning peace talks with the Maoists.

Nepal Professors' Association announced it would hold a pen-down strike in universities to press for the restoration of democracy.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 11:35 IST