Districts on boil as movement spreads

Bhairahawa/Nepalgunj, April 16

Districts in the country saw mass protests by sections of society, including journalists, government staff, political activists and common people. Army and police opened fire, launched baton-charges and fired tear gas shells. Hundreds of agitators were injured, some critically.

In Bhairahawa, students torched a police beat at Buddha Chowk and clashed with police. They burnt furniture in the District Education Office and Agriculture Development Office and padlocked offices of Nepal Electricity Authority, Insurance Corporation, Department of Inland Revenue, Women’s Development Branch and Agriculture Development. They also put up posters there stating “Nepal Government”.

In a statement the Maoists’ Gandak Area Bureau chief Anil urged the Royal Nepalese Army and the police to revolt against the government.

In Rupandehi, 100 agitators were hurt when RNA men opened fire at Sandhikharka (Arghakhanchi). Some 25,000 agitators gathered at the DAO. Army men fired at a group overwriting “Nepal Government” on a DAO signboard that said “His Majesty’s Government”. Forty-five were hurt in the firing, baton-charges and tear gassing. Nine were critically injured. Forty fell unconscious due to tear gas. Only five regained their senses by evening. Three injured were taken to Lumbini Zonal Hospital (Butwal) for further treatment, a hospital source said. Local journalist Sahayogi BC was critically injured, said a local Birendra KC.

In Nepalgunj, journalists demanded press freedom and restoration of democracy. Human right activists and prominent civilians attended the rally of the Press Chautari, Banke, which was addressed by the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (Banke chapter) central member Mohammad Haroon and Banke FNJ vice-president Jhalak Gaire. Litterateur Mohan Bikram Aryal recited a pro-democracy poem.

The Staff Association of Nepal Bangladesh Bank’s Banke branch, issued a statement that bank staff would join the movement. All transactions at the bank today halted in support of the movement.

In Tanahun, 200 teachers boycotted a two-and-a-half month primary teachers’ training course. In Rajbiraj, students affiliated to the seven parties took out a funeral procession of regression. They torched the chairs of the DDC chairman, vice-chairman, mayor and deputy mayor of the municipality. Police arrested former FSU president of Bindeshwori Multiple Campus, Sameer Jha.

In Ramechhap, PAPAD staged a rally at Manthali. Representatives of FNJ, Nepal Bar Association, Nepal Teachers’ Union, Nepal Physicians’ Association, businessmen, local leaders and students participated.

The alliance staged rallies in various parts of Nuwakot. Staff of Nepal Telecom and Nepal Electricity Authority refused to report for work and joined the rally instead.

In Birgunj, a retailers’ rally decried the government for not providing security to businessmen. Agitators vandalised a tempo and the office of Jidi Pharmaceuticals at Adarshanagar.

In Pokhara, thousands joined an alliance rally at Amar Singh Chowk. NC leader Chandra Mani Poudel, UML leader Rabindra Adhikari and leader of NC-Democratic Anandaraj Mulmi addressed the crowd.

A report from Dhangadhi said bonded labourers rallied at Campus Chowk in support of the movement. Chairman of the Bonded Labourers’ Society, Pashupati Chaudhari, said the problems of bonded labourers would not be solved unless democracy was restored.

In Bara, agitators went door-to-door at Dohari, Jhitkaiya and Maheshpur to step up public participation in the movement. The seven parties staged rallies in Pravanipur, Madhuri, Babuain and Kabahijabdi VDCs. In Kaliya, over 1,000 teachers rallied in support of the movement.