Nepal veers into political crisis as shutdown called

Nepali police arrest protesters involved in shutdown called as Nepali political crisis deepens

Nepal veers into political crisis as shutdown called

World Bulletin / News Desk

Police in Nepal have arrested at least 70 protesters who were enforcing a nationwide shutdown Monday, a day after the country’s prime minister stood down amid a deepening political crisis.

Shops and schools were closed in the capital Kathmandu with few vehicles plying the normally busy roads.

Early Monday, cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), the most radical among the country's half a dozen Maoist factions, set two taxis on fire in the capital Kathmandu, according to Bikram Singh Thapa, a senior police officer.

The group called protests over a crackdown on landless people in the southeastern district of Sarlahi, Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma.

“One month ago, local authorities attacked a settlement of four thousand landless people in Sagarnath [in Sarlahi]. They destroyed houses, arrested people and tortured them,” Bishwakarma said.

“Their crops were damaged. The state security forces want to drive them out of the settlement where they have been living for last 20 years,” he said.

Megh Nath Kafle, the district's administrative head, said local authorities had not arrested anyone.

“We had a program to plant tree saplings within the area of Sagarnath Forest Project. The project covers an area of 13,000 hectors, of which 2,600 hectors have been encroached on,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone from Sarlahi. “We haven’t touched the settlement of landless people. But some people have occupied several acres of land. They are not landless people.”

The radical communists, led by a firebrand young politician who broke away from the main Maoist party two years ago, have demanded the landless people be compensated.

Bishwakarma said more than 70 of his party’s cadres were arrested across the country in past two days but disowned the violent attacks on vehicles in Kathmandu, saying it went against his party’s policy of peaceful protest.

“Our policy is to request people to support our campaign. We will warn them but not resort to attacks,” he said.

They launched an investigation into the attacks in Kathmandu and Chitwan, where media reported a cargo truck carrying medicine had been damaged.

On Sunday, hours before he was to face a no-confidence motion in parliament, Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli resigned from his post, marking the latest political crisis Nepal has gone through since the end of a Maoist insurgency in 2006. 

Oli, chairman of a moderate communist faction, was forced to step down after a key coalition partner pulled out of his government.

More than 50 people died in clashes with security forces last year after the country’s parliament produced a post-war constitution that some felt was discriminatory. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2016, 17:32