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Saran, Karan to meet Nepal King today

The two envoys from India will be carrying a crisis message for King Gyanendra ahead of more protests.

india Updated: Apr 19, 2006 12:39 IST

Envoys from India carrying a crisis message are set to meet Nepal King on Wednesday ahead of a major demonstration demanding multi-party democracy, officials said.

Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and special envoy Karan Singh will be meeting Gyanendra later in the day after another day of strikes, protests and arrests, while one protester was killed and dozens more injured across Nepal.

A woman died after being smashed in the face by a teargas grenade fired by security forces during an anti-royal protest in western Nepal, police said.

The meeting with the King comes before a major rally in Kathmandu called for Thursday by an alliance of seven opposition parties as the next step in a nationwide movement to force him to give up absolute power.

Singh warned on Tuesday that civil unrest against the monarchy was "spinning out of control" in the Himalayan nation.

"We do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of any other country but the situation in Nepal seems to be spinning out of control," said the senior diplomat.

"The prime minister has asked me to go to Nepal to take a message to the king and also make a general assessment of the situation," said Singh, who is married to a member of one of Nepal's royal clans.

"I also expect to meet leaders of the political parties while I am there," said the 75-year-old.

Singh said India was worried about the fact that the civil unrest could lead to a humanitarian crisis in the landlocked nation, where shortages have occurred due to highway blockades enforced by Maoists

"The whole situation in Nepal seems to be deteriorating very rapidly and this is a matter of grave concern for India.

"And if Nepal dissolves into chaos, obviously it will adversely affect not only our security concerns but also our human concerns because the borders are open between India and Nepal," he said. Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna called for dialogue.

"A solution has to be found by the people of Nepal through a peaceful political settlement and there is a need for a genuine dialogue between the king and constitutional forces," Sarna said.

The king has consulted several veteran politicians in their 70s and 80s this week, but protest leaders have vowed to fight on till the monarch yields.

More than 20,000 people turned out on Tuesday in the western town of Nepalgunj to demand that the king cede the full powers he seized in February 2005.

A large protest was also reported from the mountain tourist town of Pokhara, while in Kathmandu dozens of home ministry workers were arrested for joining the growing anti-royalist movement.

A general strike went into a 14th day Wednesday and although some small shops opened and taxis were on the roads, the capital remained largely paralysed.

First Published: Apr 19, 2006 11:36 IST