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India tells Nepal king to hold talks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17
Taking note of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Nepal, India has asked King Gyanendra to hold an immediate dialogue with political parties for restoration of multi-party democracy in the Himalayan Kingdom.

India's appeal to the King came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a high level meeting last night on the developments in the Himalayan kingdom following growing protests against the imperialistic rule and Indian workers being asked to leave that country.

India's response came in the wake of a detailed analysis of the prevailing situation in which even the established political parties are increasingly losing hold on the pro-democracy protest movement, sources said adding that "youth has taken over the reins of the movement.”

An indication to this effect came when National Security Adviser M K Narayanan told reporters in Banglore that "we have taken some decisions. Things will unfold soon".

Reports reaching here suggest that India's appeal has had a "constructive" impact as the King is understood to have invited three former Prime Ministers including K P Bhattarai and Surya Bahadur Thapa for talks.

Earlier, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said India's Ambassador to Nepal, Shiv Mukherjee, had met the King in Kathmandu yesterday and conveyed to him India's concerns at the situation and the immediate need for holding a dialogue with the political parties.

The dialogue was part of the ''continuing interaction between the two countries on the current political situation,'' the spokesman said.

India had also conveyed that monarchy and the political parties had to work together.

''We are monitoring the situation closely...The political parties and the monarchy have to work together...We have stressed the need for immediate dialogue,'' the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, protests are continuing in Kathmandu and elsewhere in Nepal. The continuing protests have created crisis in the civilian society as prices of essential commodities have shot up. As the strike has also hit the transport system, supplies of food and fuel to the Nepalese capital have virtually stopped resulting in an unprecedented crisis.



Nepal sends armed escorts for food trucks

Kathmandu, April 17
The Nepal Government has said it is deploying armed escorts for trucks carrying food into Kathmandu as fresh demonstrations broke out today in the capital, besieged by a general strike called to demand a return to democracy following the king’s seizure of power.

The royal government also offered cash incentives to drivers who defy the strike in Kathmandu, where supplies of essential items were running low and new street demonstrations broke out today.

The general strike, organised by opposition political parties since April 6, has forced most vehicles off the highways and kept markets closed in many cities across the country.

King Gyanendra fired the democratic government and seized power in February 2005, saying he needed control to restore political order and end a communist insurgency that has killed nearly 13,000 people in the past decade.

The Communist rebels are now backing a campaign, launched by a coalition of the country’s major political parties, for a return to democracy. Many fear that breaking the strike would draw reprisals from the guerrillas.

“We will provide armed escorts to trucks transporting essential goods to Kathmandu,” Dipendra Thapa, Secretary at the Ministry of Works and Transport, said.

The government also announced a $ 48 incentive payment for truck drivers who break the strike and haul food, fuel and other essentials on Nepal’s highways, the only means of transportation in much of the Himalayan kingdom. —AP



Anti-King protest claims 1 life

Kathmandu, April 17
Security forces opened fire on anti-king protesters in a south Nepal town today, killing one and wounding five more, a local administrator said.

Details were still sketchy about the shooting at Nijgadh, 120 km south of Kathmandu, but the official who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the casualty.

He was the fifth person to be killed by the security forces firing on demonstrators protesting King Gyanendra's rule in recent days.

The official said the protesters were marching on the main highway passing through the town when the security forces opened fire to disperse the crowd.

The wounded were shifted to the next big city of Birgunj for treatment and are in serious condition, he said.— AP


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