Curfew fails to quell people's war in Nepal
Disregarding arbitrary shooting by security forces, activists rallied and protested to stage a show of strength against monarchy.Updated: Apr 21, 2006 11:33 IST
Disregarding bad weather and arbitrary shooting by security forces, thousands of protesters marched all night from neighbouring districts to assemble in this Nepali capital on Thursday to stage a show of strength against King Gyanendra's government.
Women, teenagers, old men and young mothers carrying sleeping children were among the marchers who responded to calls by Nepal's seven major opposition parties to send one member from each household to take part in the anti-King rally on Thursday.
An unprecedented day in Nepal's history, Thursday marked the 15th day of a continuous shutdown begun by the parties against an autocratic King by Nepal's people.
Unlike the blockades and closures earlier imposed by the Maoist insurgents where the fear of the rebels' gun power drove people into obedience, this time it is the masses who have taken the lead, with even the rebels pledging to support the peaceful yet resolute march against the King's absolute rule.
"Long live democracy, restore power to people, we want peace" shouted protesters as they poured out from the bylanes of the city, defying the ban on public assemblies and an 18-hour curfew declared from 2 am with security forces authorised to shoot at sight.
Vowing to encircle the capital by afternoon, the marches were led by senior opposition leaders like former minister Prakash Man Singh of the Nepali Congress (Democratic) party.
Sujata Koirala, daughter of opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala, released from prison this week, Shashank Koirala, her cousin, former law minister Subhash Nemwang, who had been waging a separate war in Nepal's Supreme Court for the release of political detainees, and other prominent citizens joined the stir.
"It's time to offer our blood for democracy," said Man Singh, who, anticipating the curfew, left his home on Wednesday evening to stay close to the Ring Road.
So far, 10 people have been killed in the course of the protests. Of them, four died in Chandragadhi village in Jhapa district on Wednesday.
Though the media remained crippled with the authorities refusing to issue curfew passes, FM stations reported demonstrators had already started clashing with security forces in the capital and arrests had begun.
"If you stop us today, we will come again tomorrow. How long can you stop us?" said Phulmaya Tamang, a schoolteacher who did not belong to any party. "We haven't been paid for months. There will never be any justice for people like us unless we have democracy."