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Nepal's King ignores truce, calls for curfew

The King's Govt began readying for a fresh crackdown on the Opposition, clamping curfew on highways leading to Kathmandu valley.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 11:39 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Ignoring a partial truce announced by the Maoists, King Gyanendra's government in Nepal began readying for a fresh crackdown on the opposition, clamping curfew on highways leading to the Kathmandu valley.

In Dhading district in central Nepal, northwest of here, the government imposed an indefinite curfew from 9 am to 4 pm, saying it was meant to combat the guerrillas.

However, seven major opposition parties, who have called a four-day nationwide shutdown from Thursday, including a mass demonstration here Saturday, said that the government had enforced the curbs to try foil their agitation.

In Dang district in midwestern Nepal, considered a Maoist stronghold, the curfew will be enforced from 9 pm to 4 am.

The clampdown coincides with the renewal of a draconian anti-terror law that allows the government to detain anyone suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for a year without starting legal proceedings.

The Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Control and Punishment Act, which had lapsed in 2004, was given a fresh lease of life by Gyanendra, who used his royal prerogative to do so in the absence of parliament.

Now called the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Control and Punishment Ordinance, the law has been armed with several new stringent provisions.

Anyone giving direct or indirect financial or other support to the Maoists would be regarded as terrorists and face punishment ranging from three years in jail to life imprisonment.

It can also punish anyone trying to stop security forces from searching their homes or property with a Nepali Rs 500 fine or a month's imprisonment.

The government ignored an announcement by Maoist supremo Prachanda Monday, saying his banned Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was suspending all "military activities" in Kathmandu and its sister cities Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, to show solidarity with the opposition protests.

The official media persisted with the theme that the alliance between the rebels and opposition parties was "unnatural" and self-seeking.

The Maoist truce, the second since a four-month unilateral ceasefire called by the rebels in September, has generated lukewarm response from the international community.

Amnesty International and International Commission of Jurists issued a joint statement, saying while the partial truce provided "some space for peaceful political activity, it did not go far enough to ensure the protection of human rights.

"What is urgently needed now is some consistent demonstration by the Maoist leadership and cadres across the country that they are fully committed to respecting their obligations under international humanitarian law," said Purna Sen, director of Amnesty's Asia-Pacific Programme. "Attacks on civilians must end."

Even as the Maoists announced the truce, a bomb planted by them in Sindhupalchowk district in northern Nepal went off Monday, killing a 12-year-old schoolgirl and injuring three villagers.

First Published: Apr 04, 2006 10:55 IST