Dozens detained in Nepalese crackdown | india | Hindustan Times
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Dozens detained in Nepalese crackdown

Political parties ousted when King Gyanendra seized direct control of the country 14 months ago.

india Updated: Apr 05, 2006 10:14 IST

Police detained about 50 people in Nepal for defying a protest ban and arrested 20 politicians on Wednesday, a day ahead of a major strike for the restoration of democracy, activists said.

Political parties ousted when King Gyanendra seized direct control of the country 14 months ago had called for a four-day general strike from Thursday and a demonstration in the capital on Saturday.

On Tuesday evening, local authorities banned public meetings in Kathmandu.

"We know that this is banned but we are supporting the seven party movement and we will defy the restrictions," said Shambu Thapa, president of the Nepal Bar Association just before being detained by police.

Around 150 professionals gathered early on Wednesday in defiance of the ban, and around 47 were detained before their protest got under way, eyewitnesses said.

"Among those arrested were 13 journalists, five college professors, 13 lawyers and three doctors," said Balaram Baniya, secretary of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, who spoke from police custody.

Political leaders from various opposition parties were arrested in the early hours, party activists said.

"So far we have received information about 20 leaders being arrested by plainclothes police at their homes," said Rajendra Pandey a central committee member from the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist).

Saturday's planned protest will go ahead despite the arrests, said Shovakar Parajuli, a secretary of the Nepali Congress Party.

"Our plan will go ahead as scheduled and we won't be rattled by the government's crackdown," he said.

In January, the government disrupted a planned anti-royal protest by banning public meetings, detaining hundreds of political and human rights activists, imposing a curfew and cutting mobile phone lines.

The crackdown resulted in a new wave of international criticism for Nepal.

Maoist rebels this week announced a unilateral ceasefire in the Kathmandu valley in support of the planned wave of protests.

Opposition politicians, who have a loose agreement with the rebels to oppose the royal takeover and jointly work to restore democracy, welcomed the move but said it should apply nationwide.