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Maoists-Enforced General Strike Paralyses Life In Nepal

Amid deepening political crisis, thousands of Maoist cadres on Sunday in Kathmandu took to the streets as part of an indefinite nationwide general strike aimed at toppling the multi-party government after Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal
PTI May 02, 2010 16:14 IST
PTI

Amid deepening political crisis, thousands of Maoist cadres on Sunday in Kathmandu took to the streets as part of an indefinite nationwide general strike aimed at toppling the multi-party government after Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal refused to heed to their supremo Prachanda's demand to quit.

The shutdown was launched by the former rebels a day after Prachanda, addressing a grand 'May Day' rally of the Unified CPN-Maoists, declared they would go for an indefinite strike if the 22-party coalition government headed by Premier Nepal was not dissolved to pave the way for a new dispensation led by his party.

Factories, markets, schools and colleges remained closed and vehicular movement halted as thousands of Maoist cadres demonstrated in different parts of the capital city, shouting anti-government slogans since early this morning.

In a televised address last evening, Prime Minister Nepal refused to resign and appealed for dialogue, saying that an "all-party consensus is the only alternative that will pave the way forward".

"Shutting down the nation is not the way to find a solution to this impasse," he said after two rounds of talks with Maoists, the single largest party in Parliament, on the issue of power-sharing failed.

Though the general strike was by and large peaceful in the capital, some sporadic incidents of violence occurred outside the Kathmandu valley.

Three Maoist cadres were injured and seven others arrested after a clash occurred between them and some locals in southern Nepal, police said. Minor clashes between Maoist cadres and locals in Chitawan district in southern Nepal were also reported.

The famous tourist city of Pokhara wore a deserted look as the general strike paralysed operations. Some people allegedly pelted stones at the Maoist demonstrators there, following which three private houses were vandalised.

In Birgunj, a southern Nepal town, an explosion was triggered allegedly by 'Akhil Terai Mukti Morcha', an armed Terai group, apparently in protest against the Maoists strike. However, no one was injured.

In Butawal, the Maoists allegedly vandalised two private offices and a shop for defying their strike, while a policeman was injured when the former rebels stoned a security vehicle in Kanchanpur district of far-west Nepal.

The final examinations for students of 12th standard were also disrupted in various parts of the country due to the general strike, officials said. PTI