Nepal tightens anti-terror law: Report
The Govt has tightened an already tough anti-terror law allowing it to imprison as terrorists anyone who has contact with Maoists.india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 11:56 IST
Nepal's government has tightened an already tough anti-terror law allowing it to imprison as terrorists anyone who has contact with Maoist insurgents, politicians and media said on Tuesday.
The amended Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Controlled and Punishment Ordinance "defines accomplices as those who remain in contact with the Maoists and help them," the Kathmandu Post reported.
The amendment comes just days before a planned general strike called by an alliance of seven political parties -- and supported by the Maoists -- to pressure Gyanendra to restore democracy to the nation.
The political parties fear they could be prosecuted under this law since they are involved in a campaign with the rebels against the king.
"This is another conspiracy to threaten and terrorize the opposition parties and the media," Arjun Narsingh of the Nepali Congress, the largest party in Nepal, told the agency on Tuesday.
Under the amended law, "an individual who disseminates the information of the terrorists could face one to three years imprisonment," or penalties of up to 50,000 rupees or both, The Post quoted a provision as saying.
"This will be another weapon for the government to strike on the media which is already under much restrictions. Reporters have several contacts in every area, including Maoist areas, and this law would try to prevent reporting on the rebels," said Bishnu Nisthuri, president of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
In February last year King Gyanendra seized power in Nepal, saying the move was necessary to end the communist insurgency.
The king imposed a state of emergency and introduced the anti-terrorism law allowing a crackdown on his opponents.
Rights groups say hundreds of people have been detained under the law, which allowed for the detention of anyone suspected of sympathising with the communist rebels for up to a year.
The government has struggled to control the spiralling communist insurgency that has killed some 13,000 people since 1996.
The rebels' influence has increased dramatically in recent years, and they are now present in most of the country's 75 districts.
The armed rebels often trek through mountain villagers in militant-controlled areas compelling villagers to feed them and give them shelter.
The villagers are usually in no position to refuse the rebels' demands.