M A I N   N E W S

Thousands defy curfew in Kathmandu
30 pro-democracy activists hurt in clashes
Koirala to lead protest on Tuesday

Kathmandu, April 23
About 30 pro-democracy activists were injured in clashes with the police today as anti-monarch protests spread to other districts of Nepal, a day after opposition alliance rejected the King’s offer inviting them to form a government.

In the capital Kathmandu, thousands of political activists tried to march towards the city centre defying curfew, which was re-imposed today from 9 a.m. for 11 hours, triggering clashes during which security forces fired rubber bullets to disperse them.

Anti-monarch protests were reported from Koteshwar in eastern Kathmandu, Kalanki and other parts of Nepal such as Charikot, Bara, Nuwakot, Pokhara on the 18th day of the general strike called by the opposition.

There were unconfirmed reports that the King has warned of imposing state of emergency in the Kingdom. However, a senior leader of the seven-party alliance said that the “rumour” has been deliberately spread after the opposition rejected the King’s offer to name a Prime Minister and form a government.

The party leaders have also welcomed India’s latest statement that it was for the people of Nepal to decide the type of government the country should have. “We welcome India’s latest attitude towards the problem of Nepal,” Nepali Congress leader K.B. Gugung said.

Twelve persons were hurt, about five seriously, in police firing on a crowd of demonstrators at Koteshwar in eastern Kathmandu in a curfew-bound area, eye-witnesses said.

The police also baton-charged activists, sometimes entering private houses, eyewitnesses said. Some plainclothes security personnel also infiltrated into the crowd provoking the demonstrators, a local radio said.

Six persons were injured when police baton-charged and fired tear gas cells at Kalanki area today, party sources said. A dozen more injuries were reported from other parts of the country where demonstrators clashed with police.

Security forces used excessive force in several places to prevent anti-King demonstrators from reaching the Royal Palace, party sources said.

Mobile phone services remained cut off for more than 24 hours.

The opposition alliance yesterday stuck to its demand of reinstatement of parliament and holding of constituent assembly as per its roadmap to restore full democracy in the kingdom and rejected the King’s offer to name a Prime Minister and form the government.

An editorial in the state-run newspaper, Rising Nepal, warned of a “historic blunder” if the opposition parties failed to accept the King’s offer.

The Child Workers In Nepal (CWIN) has expressed concern that many children have been participating in the demonstrations and more than 100 have been injured in Kathmandu alone. As many as 95 children, including four girls and 91 boys, have been injured in the past few days of police action, the CWIN said in a report.

Of the children injured, 51 were below the age of 17 and 34 below the age of 13, CWIN said. Thirteen have got firearm injuries, 23 had head injuries and 12 have cuts and seven has eye injuries.

Meanwhile, to exert maximum pressure on the King, leaders of the seven-party alliance, spearheading democracy in Nepal, today announced that they would personally lead the anti-monarch protests on Tuesday.

Veteran political leader and former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, after a meeting of political leaders at his residence, today announced that he and others, including CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal would lead the protest at various entry points to the city on the Ring Road on Tuesday.

At least 20 lakh people would participate in the protest, making it the largest such event of recent times, he asserted.

It would be the first in the course of agitation, which began more than two weeks ago, that the political leaders of the seven-party alliance will personally take part in the protest.

Until now, local leaders were leading the demonstrators. — PTI, UNI


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