NC anger over chopper check unabated

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 13:

The Nepali Congress (NC) today vehemently criticised the government and the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) for “harassing” their party leader Girija Prasad Koirala in the name of “regular check” at the Tribhuwan International Airport (TIA) yesterday.

Labelling the incident as “harassment” to Koirala, party cadres and members of the sister organisations today organised a torch rally in the capital, shouting anti-King and anti-government slogans. The party also flayed the government for the price hike in petroleum products. Youth organisations of the NC also heavily criticised the CPN-UML and prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba for aiding and abetting “regression”.

They also vowed to fight until “regression” came to an end. Youths belonging to NC, who criticised the All Nepal National Free Students Union (ANNFSU) for playing a double standard role, also asked them to clarify their stand on the issue. “It is ridiculous to see them protesting their own government just to deceive people,” NC protesters said.

The four agitating parties today also staged a protest rally in Lalitpur demanding immediate withdrawal of the price hike in petroleum products. Addressing the rally, NC leader Dr Ram Baran Yadav said that democratic parties have been squeezed between two forces — the government and the Maoists. Prior to this, the protesters also took out a rally from Lagankhel to Mangalbazar, Patan. Meanwhile, NC workers today enforced Biratnagar and Birgunj bandh to oppose Royal Nepalese Army officials’ ‘misbehaviour’ against their party chief Girija Prasad Koirala.

NC workers had organised chakkajam and forced closure of all the shops and market in Biratnagar. An emergency meeting of the NC Morang district working committee held today, condemned the incident and demanded an investigation into the case. Likewise, NC workers blocked traffic at Mahendra Chowk for an hour. Agitated party workers also disrupted classes in several educational institutions. Meanwhile, the NC Birgunj unit organised a rally against the government and also burnt tyres on the street to protest the RNA’s ‘misbehaviour.’

Hijack threat caused check, say airport officials

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 13:

Tribhuvan International Airport officials today said security measures were beefed up at TIA on the basis of aircraft-hijack threats by Maoist rebels. A few days ago, the Ministry of Defence had directed the airport officials to beef up security arrangements at TIA. “There is a perceived threat of Maoists’-hijacked chopper landing at TIA, and that could be the reason for the MoD to issue an order for inspecting every helicopter,” said a senior security official at the airport.

TIA officials also held a meeting with army and police officers posted for airport security today. The meeting discussed the Koirala incident at length in order to figure out the ways for ensuring such incidents are not misinterpreted. Other security arrangements in TIA were also reviewed in the meeting, according to an official. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence clarified it had directed security wings to inspect all choppers operated by private airlines even if the Prime Minister is on board. Stating that Koirala was unnecessarily criticising the regular job of the security forces, a MoD under secretary said, “Security personnel acted only according to the fresh direction of the ministry. It should not be misinterpreted.”

Security forces “had tried to inspect” Air Dynasty’s helicopter that Koirala was boarding from Chitwan to Kathmandu yesterday. After the incident Koirala had said that the inspection was done for “humiliating” him. “Why should anyone humiliate the ex-PM? The security forces were only inspecting all helicopters to find if any explosives were there,” said the ministry.