Police arrest 30 agitating lawyers in Nepal
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Police arrest 30 agitating lawyers in Nepal

Hundreds of journalists, lawyers, activists have been arrested in a wave of demonstrations since the start of a protest drive by Oppn.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 11:40 IST

Police arrested 30 lawyers shouting anti-royal slogans on Thursday as Nepal was gripped by its worst political crisis since King Gyanendra took absolute power 14 months ago, witnesses said.

Hundreds of opposition leaders, lawyers, and activists have been arrested in a wave of demonstrations since the start of a week-old protest drive organised by opposition parties and backed by Maoist rebels.

Around 100 lawyers protested outside the Supreme Court, chanting anti-king slogans, before being bundled into waiting police vans.

Police fired tear gas and most of the crowd dispersed, an agency reporter said.

"This is a peaceful demonstration and if the police try to stop us, we will resist," said Madhav Banskota, General Secretary of the Nepal Bar Association before being arrested.

More protests were slated for later Thursday in the capital suburb of Gongabu where thousands of demonstrators battled with police and scores were injured earlier in the week.

Four protesters have been shot dead by security forces since opposition parties called an indefinite nationwide general strike last Thursday. The latest death was Wednesday in the kingdom's southwest.

Authorities have cracked down, cutting off mobile telephones, banning protests, staging mass arrests and imposing curfews in some areas.

But they lifted a daytime curfew in the capital Wednesday after imposing it at the weekend.

Despite the crackdown, the protests have continued, many of which have seen supporters stoning police who responded with baton charges, tear gas and live ammunition.

Authorities say Maoists have infiltrated the protests and that was why the crackdown was needed.

On Wednesday, rebel leader Prachanda called on Nepal's army and police to join the anti-royal movement.

"The birth of a new democratic regime will develop a new democratic military force," the rebel leader said.

Once deadly foes, the opposition parties and Maoists entered a loose alliance last November, further isolating King Gyanendra, the world's last Hindu monarch.

Since the Maoists began their "People's War" in 1996, some 12,500 people have been killed.

King Gyanendra has justified his seizure of power by saying political parties failed to crush the insurgency.

First Published: Apr 13, 2006 11:40 IST