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Nepal crisis: Two opposition leaders freed

This is one of the worst cases of violence during the two weeks pro-democracy demonstrations going on in the Himalayan country.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 19:09 IST

As India stepped up diplomatic efforts to press King Gyanendra to restore democracy, Nepal's royal government on Wednesday freed two top opposition leaders after detaining them for three months even as security forces shot dead at least two protestors in a southeastern town.

Madav Kumar Nepal, General Secretary of Communist Party of Nepal (UML), and Ram Chandra Poudyal, Nepali Congress General Secretary, were released, hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy Karan Singh arrived in Kathmandu for talks with the monarch and opposition leaders to resolve the political crisis gripping Nepal.

They were under detention since January 19 just before opposition parties planned to hold a mass rally in the capital against the King for assuming absolute power by dissolving Parliament in February last year.

No reasons were given for their release. Only two days ago Poudyal's detention was extended by another three months.

Immediately after his release, Nepal told reporters that opposition parties would launch protest against the King in an effective way until the total democracy was restored and power handed over to elected representatives.

Karan Singh and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who is also in Kathmandu, held talks with several political leaders and government officials.

While Karan Singh met two former Prime Ministers Girija Prasad Koirala and Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Foreign Secretary had a detailed discussion with the Royal Army Chief Pyar Jung Thapa. Saran also held talks with Prabhakar Shumsher, a leading businessman who is said to be close to the King.

First Published: Apr 19, 2006 18:01 IST