100 CPN Maoist cadres held in Valley during bandh
KATHMADNU, July 24
As many as 100 demonstrators were arrested in different parts of the capital city and around 150 across country, as they set vehicles on fire and forced schools, shops and businesses to shut down in protest against plans to bring a new constitution, which they said is ‘anti people’.
Cadres of the CPN Maoist, led by Netra Bikram Chand, fanned across the capital city to enforce a daylong bandh ‘to press the major political forces to promulgate a people-centric constitution through broader consensus’.
Police said bandh enforcers vandalised or torched seven vehicles, including one belonging to Dairy Development Corporation which was carrying milk, in Kathmandu, during the first strike since the massive quake rocked the country in April 25.
Bandh enforcers torched a taxi with the driver behind the wheel in Naya Bazaar. However, the cabbie managed to escape unhurt. The culprits are at large. Similarly, four vehicles were targeted in Lalitpur.
Though Sajha Yatayat buses and some tempos, taxis and motorcycles braved the threats of bandh enforcers, most of the public vehicles stayed off the roads. Academic institutions, marketplaces, factories, industries and private offices remained shut. More than 6,500 police personnel were deployed in the Valley to foil violence during the strike.
“Four vehicles have been torched and another 19 vandalised,” police Spokesman Kamal Singh Bam told AFP, adding that no casualties had been reported.
The CPN Maoist, on Friday’s bandh organiser, is a breakaway faction of the Unified CPN-Maoist, which signed a deal with three other parties — ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML and Madhesi Janaadhikar-Forum-Democratic — on a new constitution on June 8, apparently prompted by the devastating earthquake that killed more than 8,800 people. But the splinter Maoist party says the deal betrays the principles of the Maoists, who fought a decade-long civil war with the state that ended in 2006 and led to the abolition of a centuries-old feudal monarchy.
“The draft is against the people and the spirit and hopes of the people’s war,” Khadga Bahadur Bishwokarma, Spokesperson for the CPN Maoist, told AFP, referring to the conflict. “The constitution does not address the problems of the ethnic, racial and gender discrimination that we fought against.”
Dozens have been injured this week in clashes between police and protesters angered by the terms of the draft constitution, after a public consultation process began on Monday. A key sticking point concerns internal borders, with the opposition pushing for new provinces to be created along lines that could favour historically marginalised communities.
Other parties have attacked this model, calling it a threat to national unity.
On Friday’s strike emptied Kathmandu’s usually packed roads of traffic and many Nepalis expressed frustration over the impact on livelihoods already devastated by the quake.
“I am tired of strikes. It is people like us who suffer... whenever there is a strike, there is no work and we go hungry,” said daily wage labourer, Karma Tamang. Bank official Nisha Shrestha told AFP she was on her way to work in defiance of the strike. “It makes me angry that at a time when we are trying to recover from an earthquake, these people want to trouble us more with strikes,” the 28-year-old said.