Violence in Kathmandu in continuing ethnic upsurge
Kathmandu | August 22, 2007 2:05:07 PM IST
Fresh violence erupted in Kathmandu valley Wednesday and schools and colleges remained closed as groups of Buddhists and Dalits clashed with police while seeking to enforce a shutdown in continuing ethnic upsurge ahead of the scheduled November elections.
The Samyukta Ganatantrik Dalit Mukti Morcha spearheaded the shutdown, demanding proportional representation for Dalits in the upcoming election.
The protest is also being supported by a second Dalit organisation and a group of Tamangs, a Buddhist community who are the worst victims of a flourishing trans-border flesh trade involving unscrupulous Indian gangs.
Schools and colleges in the valley, badly disrupted by the student unions last week, remained closed and public transport disappeared from the streets. From early morning, groups of protesters began patrolling key areas to ensure that shops remained closed.
By early morning, nearly 20 people had been arrested from three areas in the capital for trying to vandalise a taxi that dared to defy the closure and for obstructing roads.
With 91 days left for the crucial constituent assembly election, Nepal remained turbulent Wednesday as other protests erupted outside Kathmandu valley.
The Tamang Rastriya Mukti Morcha, another group of Tamangs affiliated to the Maoist guerrillas, called a shutdown in nine districts in central Nepal to press their demand for an autonomous state for the community.
A third protest began in southern Nepal as an armed group, calling itself the Madhesi Tigers, Wednesday began a five-day closure in Saptari district.
The district in the Terai plains has been tense since Tuesday night when the Tigers exploded bombs to intimidate people into obeying their closure call.
Though the government, pressured by the international community to hold elections Nov 22 as per schedule, began hurried talks with three groups of ethnic protesters, including one from the plains, the parleys have been slow to reach an understanding with the groups frequently returning to protests.
To make things worse for the administration that is floundering to improve the fragile security situation, the Maoists have warned they would start strikes and other protests from next month if the government failed to abolish monarchy before that.
On Tuesday, the Maoists' strong arm, their controversial youth wing Young Communist League, also announced a series of protests from September.
To compound the turmoil, two armed groups in the Terai, who were once part of the Maoists' underground party, have warned the government they would oppose the November election.
Though the Maoist insurgency that killed over 13,000 people ended last year, Nepal was been gripped by fresh protests by various ethnic communities, who say they were repressed by the earlier governments and now want self-governance.
The election, which will determine if Nepal should abolish its 238-year monarchy, was postponed in June due to the deteriorating security situation.
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