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S B Ranjitkar: King, Opposition Showdown in Nepal

Showdown between the King and the Opposition in Nepal

By Siddhi B. Ranjitkar

Arresting political leaders of seven-party alliance and the leaders of civil society on the eve of the planned massive anti-king rally in Kathmandu on January 20, 2006, the king's government had set the stage for direct confrontation with the seven-party alliance. Fearing the massive turnout of people in the planned demonstration called by the seven-party alliance, the king's government prepared for repressive measure. First, the government snapped the landline telephones and mobile telephones. The landlines and mobile telephones went dead 5 A.M. on Thursday, January 19, 2006; the landlines came to life at 8:30 A.M. but the mobile remained dead until further notice. The security started rounding up the political leaders and the civil society leaders in the morning of Thursday, January 19, 2005.

The planned rally also aimed at mobilizing people to boycott the elections to 58 municipalities scheduled for February 08, 2006. The king was determined to hold municipal elections to legitimize his direct rule as well as to establish his credentials as a democrat despite the boycott of the elections by the seven-party alliance and the threat of the Maoists to the candidates participating in the elections. He was sure that his army has the strength and the power to fight on both fronts - the seven-party alliance on one side and the Maoists on another.

In the hope of making the king's elections successful, his government cracked down on the seven-party alliance set to stage peaceful rallies against the direct rule of the king and peacefully call upon the voters for boycotting the municipal elections. The government found the possible assaults of the Maoists on the security as the pretext for the clampdown. Home Minister Kamal Thapa said that the government has very reliable information on the Maoists making inroads to the capital and using the rally to cause massive destruction. King's advisor and the member of the Standing Committee of Rajparishad (Privy Council) Sachit Shumsher Rana, and the Vice-chairman of the king's Council of Minister Dr. Tulsi Giri recently once said, "broken the Maoists' back". Contrary to their statements and disregarding the inconvenience for the people and their rights to demonstrate peacefully, Home Minster Kamal Thapa was so afraid of the Maoists entering the Kathmandu Valley; he imposed curfew from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. in the areas within the Ring Road in the Kathmandu Valley on Friday, January 20, 2006 to foil the Maoists participating in the political rally called by the seven-party alliance.

Talking to BBC Nepali service on Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Home Minister Thapa said that the government imposed restrictions on holding mass meetings and assemblies to check any untoward incidents in the capital during the protest programs. Attempting to refute the allegations of the government taking the decision on containing the show of strength of the seven-party alliance, Home Minister Thapa said, "The government did not create any obstacles to the protest program of the political parties outside the valley (in the past) but took the decision this time after the Maoists said that they will actively participate in the protest program of the agitating-political parties and create chaos in the capital."

In a statement issued on Wednesday, January 18, 2006, Chairman of the CPN (Maoist), Prachanda said that his party would not indulge in activities including use of force, infiltration or any other provocative activities during the Friday’s mass rally organized by the seven-party alliance. He, however, reiterated his party’s full support for the peaceful protest launched by the alliance in line with the 12-point understanding reached between his party and the seven-party alliance. Chairman Prachanda denied the government’s claim that the CPN Maoist guerrillas were planning to infiltrate into the Friday’s mass rally. Chairman Prachanda’s statement came hours after Home Minister Kamal Thapa claimed that the government had credible evidence that the Maoists were going to `infiltrate’ into the Friday’s mass meeting organized by the seven-party alliance. [1]

On Monday, January 16, 2006, the local administration issued prohibitory orders forbidding any political rallies within the areas of the Ring Road in Kathmandu. However, the seven-party alliance was determined to defy the prohibitory orders. So, their cadres and students affiliated to them have been taking out rallies defying the prohibitory orders.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, January 17, 2006, the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Kathmandu, Nepal expressed its concern over the government’s ban on all sorts of peaceful political assemblies and rallies in the Kathmandu Valley, and sought clarification from the government for the ban as appeared in various local newspapers. The OHCHR urged the government to uphold the freedom of peaceful assembly consistent with the legitimate security considerations. Pointing out the right to freedom of peaceful assembly guaranteed by the Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Nepal is a signatory party, the prohibitory order should be "subject to only those restrictions which are necessary and proportional to the objective of maintaining public order in a democratic society".

On January 18, 2006, the Office of the Council of Ministers made it clear that the prohibitory order in various parts of the Valley was enforced by His Majesty’s Government (of Nepal) considering the grave situation in the Valley and pursuant to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966. Talking to the state-run news agency 'RSS' about the news of the concern shown by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal over the prohibitory order, the Office Secretary, Diwakar Panta said that Nepal ratified the ICCPR in 1976. In view of the current adverse law and order situation, the government took the measure in accordance with the Article 21 of the Covenant. The Article 21 of the ICCPR states, "The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restriction may be placed on the exercise of this right other (than) those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedom of others." "Therefore, the decision made in a compulsive situation was pursuant to the Constitution of Nepal and the International Law," he said. Secretary Panta also made it clear that the Council of Ministers has not received any official information on the clarification sought by the OHCHR from the government, as appeared in the newspapers. [2]

The showdown appears inevitable with the King’s decision to impose prohibitory orders in the day, and curfew in the night in Kathmandu to foil political parties that have decided to create a ‘tsunami’ of people’s movement against the ‘absolute regime’. Their rally scheduled for Friday, January 20, 2006 has a target of bringing around half a million protesters. King Gyanendra has been away in Itahari, Eastern Nepal on a three-week long visit. He called Home Minister Kamal Thapa in Kathmandu, and gave him instructions to go ahead with stringent repressive measures against the impending political protest. [3]

On condition of anonymity, a top government official in Katmandu said, "We have ordered the arrest of 200 people, and 22 security teams have been mobilized to make the arrests." General Secretary of Communist Party of Nepal, Madhav Kumar Nepal said that soldiers raided his house at 4 A.M. on Thursday, January 19, 2006 searching for activists, while dozens of policemen stood outside. He was not placed under arrest, but he said some leaders from other political parties as well as several party workers were detained. [4]

Commenting on the arrest of dozens of political leaders and rights activists in Kathmandu on Thursday, January 19, 2006, CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal said, “This is the state-sponsored anarchy at its worst form. This is an example of severe attack on the fundamental rights of the people. This is also a proof that the royal government is breathing its last. This government has been isolated and has lost support from everywhere. The latest autocratic move of the government is nothing but an indication of the defeated mentality of the royal regime." [5]

On Thursday morning, January 19, 2006, police took noted Rights Activist, Krishna Pahadi, one of the coordinators of Citizens’ Movement for Peace and Democracy (CMPD), Dr. Devendra Raj Panday and editor of pro-left monthly magazine, Shyam Shrestha into custody. According to the family member, plain-clothes security personnel took Pahadi from his residence to the Gaushala police post at around 5:30 A. M. Thursday morning; security personnel took Dr. Panday from his residence to Armed Police Force headquarters at Halchowk, Kathmandu at around 8:30 A. M., and Editor Shrestha was also arrested on this day in the morning. [6]

According to latest reports, General Secretary of Nepali Congress, Joint General Secretary, Central Committee Members were arrested. Similarly, CPN (UML) sources said Party Leaders were arrested. Pro- CPN (UML) student leader was among those arrested. According to Nepali Congress (Democratic) [NC (D)] sources, Acting President of NC (D), General Secretary, Party Leaders were arrested. A number of leaders of Janamorcha Nepal were arrested between 5 and 7 A.M. According to Janamorcha Nepal Vice President, Bhaktapur District Chairman, Lalitpur, District Chairman, Secretary of Lalitpur District Committee, Former Member of District Development Committee Bhaktapur, Former Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of Thecho VDC, Lalitpur, and Bhaktapur were arrested. [7]

On January 19, 2006, in the separate notices, the District Administration of Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts announced the curfew in the areas within the Ring Road of Kathmandu Metropolis and Lalitpur Sub-metropolis from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM on January 20, 2006. The curfew notices stated that this curfew order is additional to the existing curfew order effective in the area from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM everyday imposed since January 18 and effective until further notice. In the meantime, the Home Ministry issued the notice stating people needing to travel during the curfew period for any urgent work could acquire the special curfew pass before 8:00 AM from the Valley Traffic Police Office in Kathmandu, the District Police Office in Lalitpur and the District Administration Office in Bhaktapur. [8]

In the evening of January 19, 2006 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, Minister for Foreign Affairs Ramesh Nath Pandey held a briefing session for updating the heads of diplomatic missions based in Kathmandu on the current political situation in Nepal. During the briefing session, he said that the primary goal of His Majesty’s Government (of Nepal) has been to defeat terrorism by strengthening a meaningful democratic process that is both inclusive and sustainable. He further stated that the power of the ballot is much more powerful than that of the bullet and that history is replete with experiences to tell us that democracy has always emerged victorious in all kinds of ideological struggles. [9] How many diplomats believed him is a question. Foreign Minister Pandey has been more like a propaganda minister than a foreign.

(UN) Secretary-General calls on all sides in Nepal to resume dialogue and halt violence

19 January 2006 – Responding to the Government of Nepal’s arrest of more than one hundred politicians and other critics, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on all sides in the strife-torn Himalayan kingdom to return to the negotiating table and halt the violence. In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan said the arrests were made ahead of a demonstration planned for the capital, and that the Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal had raised the matter with the Government. UN human rights officers had also visited 97 of the more than 120 persons detained. [10]

On Thursday, January 19, 2006, in a press statement, spokesman for the US State Department, Sean McCormack said, "The United States condemns the decision by the King of Nepal to detain political party leaders and civil society activists in advance of political demonstrations scheduled for January 20. Dialogue between the King and the parties and a return to democracy are the only effective ways to address the Maoist insurgency in Nepal." [11]

On Thursday, January 19, 2006, in a press statement, Foreign Office Minister, Dr Howells said, "The UK is extremely concerned by the King's actions, and we can see no grounds for these anti-democratic measures. Only by reaching out to the political parties to develop a common agenda will there be any prospect of a meaningful exercise in democracy." [12]

In New Delhi on January 19, 2006, in response to a question, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, Navtej Sarna said, "We are receiving reports … about the arrest of leaders of political parties as well as human rights and civil society activists. These actions by His Majesty's Government of Nepal are regrettable and a matter of grave concern to all those who wish to see the constitutional forces in Nepal working together to achieve peace and stability in the country." [13]

In Kathmandu, on January 19, 2006, the Embassy of Japan issuing a statement said, "What Nepal now needs is for the government, political parties and citizen to pursue peace through unity. Japan hopes that the government and political parties will reach out to one another to this end." Expressing its grave concern over the arrest of the political leaders and cadres in Nepal, Japan urged the government of Nepal to release the detainees and restore the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution promptly. Japan also urged the Maoists to achieve peace through dialogue. [14]

On the evening of January 19, 2006, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for the Human Rights (OHCHR) in Nepal in a statement said, "While recognizing the serious security situation affecting Kathmandu in the light of Maoist attacks in the Kathmandu Valley on 14 January (2006), OHCHR-Nepal regrets that the complete ban on demonstrations represents an extreme limitation on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The human rights concerns raised by the severe restriction on the right to freedom of assembly are compounded by the mass arrests under powers of preventive detention, in apparent violation of the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest." The Commission also said suspicions of Maoist violence in the context of public demonstrations cannot be used as a justification for the arrest of the demonstrations’ organizers, many of whom have repeatedly spoken out against the use of violence. [15]

On January 19, 2006, in a statement issued in Kathmandu, Delhi-based Rights Non-governmental Organization, Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR), has criticized the king's action as the "ugly attempt to suppress legitimate democratic right with complete disregard for international community". It also urged the international community "to impose a visa ban on King Gyanendra and his Cabinet ministers, and a ban on technical and economic assistance". [16]

After lifting the successful curfew on Friday, January 20, 2006, the king's government thought that it won the game with the seven-party alliance that had planned a massive rally in Kathmandu on that day. However, the unconstitutional government faced spontaneous protests in several parts of Kathmandu on the Friday evening and the next day. The police, the security forces, and the army men fought street battle against the protesters defying the government's prohibitory order in several places simultaneous for several hours on Saturday, January 21. A military helicopter was flying overhead obviously for monitoring the protests going-on on the ground. About 500 protesters including former ministers were arrested from the protest-scenes.

The army erased video footage shot by CNN-IBN and Star News TV channels on Friday, (January 20, 2006) of soldiers inside the Koteshwor residence of CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal, who is under house arrest. The tapes were returned nearly five hours after they were seized, Parul Malhotra, senior correspondent of CNN-IBN channel said. According to Malhotra, the soldiers objected to being shown on tape surrounding Nepal's residence and inside it, and asked the Indian TV channel crews to hand over the tapes. "We refused, and said 'you may arrest us if you want but we won't part with the tapes', reminding them that we had valid press and curfew passes for news coverage," Malhotra said. "Seeing no option, we had to leave the tapes and I had to go back at 5 P. M. and collect them, and the concerned footage was erased," Malhotra informed. Asked how she felt about the entire episode, she said, "It was unfortunate as well as ridiculous." [17]

The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has refuted the news item headlined 'Army erases CNN-IBN, Star News tapes" which appeared in the Saturday's edition of 'The Kathmandu Post'. A press statement issued by the Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) of the RNA said that no RNA soldier was posted at CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal's residence and no tapes of journalists were taken into control and erased. [18]

A cable operator said the Ministry of Information and Communications yesterday (January 20, 2006) sent them verbal orders to shut down the transmission of Indian news channels such as Aaj Tak and Star News immediately. Security forces also confiscated the video footage of the residence of CPN (UML) General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal taken by CNN-IBN and Star News. [19]

Since Friday, January 20, 2006, the local administration in Nepalgunj has started censuring the Indian newspapers that carried news and views in support of the political parties’ protest rallies in Nepal. On Friday, the local authorities cut off the pages of Hindustan and Lokjagaran dailies that carried news reports on Nepal before they were released to the public in Nepal on the Nepalgunj boarder. Similarly, the government has stopped permission to broadcasting news from Indian news channel such as ‘Aaj Tak’ and ‘Star news’ in Nepal since Friday, January 20, 2006. [20]

A policeman nearly shot Kabre-based-Kantipur journo, Khuman Singh Tamang while he was trying to take photographs of detained students leaders at the Banepa Police Station yesterday (January 20, 2006). [21]

The king's government freed former Prime Minister and President of the Nepali Congress Party, Girija Prasad Koirala, CPN (UML) Leader Khadga Prasad Oli, and Nepal Workers' and Peasants' Party (NWPP) Chairman Narayan Man Bijukchhe from the house arrest on Sunday evening, January 22, 2006. The government put them under house arrest on January 19, 2006 one day before the planned massive protest rally by the seven-party alliance. However, the travel restriction and house arrest on UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and UML Standing Committee Member Bharat Mohan Adhikari are still in place. Talking to party cadres after his release from the house arrest, President Koirala said that his release would not affect the seven-party alliance's stance on the king and the ongoing movement. He also demanded immediate release of all detainees including CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal. After pressure from rights groups, on Sunday, January 22, 2006, the government released ailing UML Standing Committee Member Pradip Nepal and 181 out of 236 arrested on Thursday, January 19, 2006. Meanwhile, policemen arrested Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi) General Secretary Hridayesh Tripathi immediately upon his arrived at the Kathmandu Airport from New Delhi on Sunday, January 22, 2006. [22]

Leaders and cadres of seven-party alliance defied the government's prohibitory order and took out rallies on Sunday, January 22, 2006. The protestors also took out a torch rally at Baneswor, Kathmandu and later burnt a vehicle of Auditor General's Office on the Sunday evening. According to a press statement of the Nepali Congress (Democratic), policemen intervened in its rally at Basantapur, Kathmandu and arrested dozens of leaders and cadres. Similarly, the Nepal Students' Union (NSU) in its statement said that security men arrested dozens of leaders and cadre while they were taking out a rally on the Saraswati Campus and at New Road in the capital. According to a police source, on Sunday, January 22, 2006, policemen arrested 32 demonstrators of whom 10 were released in the evening after investigation. [23]

The Maoists had threatened to the lives of the people contesting the upcoming municipal elections. The first victim became Bijaya Lal Das, a local leader of the Nepal Sadbhawana Party that has been supporting King Gyanendra. He was shot near his office in Janakpur. Recently, he had declared his candidacy for the mayor of Janakpur in the municipal elections to be held on February 8, 2006. Police said that two young men walked into the office of his Party and sprayed bullets at him on Sunday, January 22, 2006 [24].

A meeting of the Professionals' Association for Peace and Democracy (PAPAD) decided to hold a symbolic protest rally against the recent government crackdown on human rights activists, journalists and legal practitioners at Naya Baneshwor, Kathmandu on January 31, 2006. Professional leaders called upon the respective professionals to participate in the rally. [25]

On Sunday, January 22, 2006, speaking at a function held by Freedom Forum in the capital, Former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal and the Member of Committee on Drafting the Constitution of Nepal of 1990, Laxman Prasad Aryal said, "The Constitution has explicitly mentioned that sovereignty lies with the people. All the activities of the king will be illegitimate as long as the article remains in place in the Constitution." [26]

On Sunday, January 22, 2006, Advocate Satosh Kumar Mahato filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court of Nepal, questioning the legality of the government's ban on mass meeting, rallies and sit-ins. Advocate petitioner sought the Apex Court to annul the prohibition that has been in place since Tuesday, January 17, 2006. He argued in his petition that the ban goes against the preamble of the Constitution. [27]

On Sunday, January 22, 2006, releasing a press statement, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which has been monitoring detention centers, urged the government to ensure better living conditions, and access to medical services for political detainees. The NHRC also urged the government to immediately release detainees suffering from any ailment including CPN-UML leader Pradip Nepal and NC cadre Budhabir Lama. The NHRC maintained that the detainees should have easy access to meeting their relatives and consulting lawyers of their choice. Similarly, the NHRC recommended the government to provide all detainees with newspapers, radio and television facilities, and to restore the snapped telephone lines to the houses of the political leaders immediately. [28]

On Sunday, January 22, 2006, the king and his spouse returned to Kathmandu after a three-week-long visit to the Eastern Nepal. They left Kathmandu for Itahari on January 1, 2006. During their stay in the Eastern Nepal, the royal couple flew from the Royal Nepal Army Barrack at Itahari to various hill regions almost every day for meeting thousands of people brought by the royal-trip managers to cheer the king and his spouse. People can only guessed how much taxpayers' money has spent on this three-week-long visit to the Eastern Nepal. The government paid Rs 80 million to the Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation for the royal pleasure trip to Africa after the SAARC Summit in November 2005. If this figure is of any indication for the estimation of the expenses for the royal visit to the Eastern Nepal, then the cost the Nepalese taxpayers have incurred for the royal visits must be billions of rupees. Thus, the royal visits have been making the already poor Nepalis even poorer.

The slogan, “Gyane Chor, Desh Chhod” (thief Gyane, leave the country) chanted by the protestors on the streets of Kathmandu, shows the distance the Nepalese people have traveled from venerating their monarch as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu to calling him a thief, and leave the country. The political parties have re-established their acceptability among the people. There is consensus on the need for restructuring the state and formulating a new peoples’ charter through an elected Constituent Assembly. And, after running an insurgency for over a decade, the Maoists are preparing a safe landing into the net of multi-party democracy. Peace and democracy are being recognized as conjoined twins in Nepal today and people are once again looking for the leadership of democratic forces. The political parties as well as the Maoists have publicly apologized for their past mistakes. Together they are talking of a post-monarchical agenda. The debate is not about what to do with the king but what to do after monarchy. The only monarchical constituency is the Royal Nepal Army. King Gyanendra himself dons military fatigues while touring the country. Some say that this is to identify himself with the armed forces because he does not know how long the unity of the army will hold. The fatigues apparently also hide a bulletproof vest. The election to 58 municipalities is not being pushed for the sake of democracy. His attempt is to get a variant of the pre-1990 panchayat system. [29]

To ridicule the candidates standing in the local elections called by King Gyanendra, supporters of the seven-party alliance brought out a group of pet dogs draped in red banners with the words 'candidates' and 'vote for me' in Pokhra on Saturday, January 21, 2006. Gun-toting policemen chased the activists and dogs near the municipal office. The police tried to bring the dogs to heel and tear off the banners leading to clashes with the human demonstrators. As soon as the police left, the "contestants" were herded at the local square and "felicitated", just as candidates are after winning polls. [30]

On Sunday, January 22, 2006, Minister for Land Reforms and Management, Narayan Singh Pun said, “The government may postpone the municipal elections if the parties sit for a dialogue with the government, agree to address the Maoist problem and reach a common decision on the postponement of the polls. Those forces that did not take to arms should first come to the talks table and move forward to address the Maoist problem.” To the question on how the government expected dialogue with the seven-party alliance when it did not allow them even a peaceful rally to take out in Kathmandu on Friday, January 20, 2006, Minister Pun said that the rally was stopped as the government had received “actual information” about Maoist infiltration. The minister said that elections would be held as scheduled if the seven-party alliance refused to hold talks with the government. He hinted that the prohibitory orders would be lifted before January 26, the day for filing the nomination of candidates for the municipal polls. [31]

Following directives of the government, the state-owned 'Nepal Telecom' resumed the post-paid mobile service in the Kathmandu Valley on Monday, January 23, 2006. The government suspended mobile telephone service on Thursday, January 19, 2006 ahead of a mass meeting of the seven-party alliance scheduled for Friday, January 20, 2006. However, the government continued its ban on the Nepal Telecom's pre-paid mobile services, and the mobile telephones run by the private companies such as Mero Mobile and United Telecom. General Manager of Nepal Telecom, Sugat Ratna Tuladhar said that the pre-paid mobile service would resume after an approval (of the government) for the same is received. [32]

On Monday, January 23, 2006, the Kathmandu and Lalitpur District Administrations lifted the nighttime curfew imposed in the areas within the Ring Road in the Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts in view of the seven-party alliance's grand protest rally scheduled for January 20, 2006. With effective on January 24, 2006, the Kathmandu and Lalitpur District Administrations also lifted the ban on activities such as rallying and sit-ins in the same areas imposed by the prohibitory order issued on January 16, 2006. However, the areas prohibited by the previous prohibitory order of the Kathmandu District Administration Office from rallying remain effective. [33] The mass demonstration could not take place after the government-imposed curfew went into effect even in the daytime on January 20, 2006. However, the seven-party alliance successfully defied the prohibitory order, and went on holding rallies in various forbidden areas despite the police assaults on them.

On Monday, January 23, 2006, in a press conference held at his ministry, Home Minister Kamal Thapa said that the government was not for halting or postponing the municipal elections scheduled for February 8, 2006. “The situation is favorable for holding the elections as the government has stepped up security across the country and the elections will be held on the scheduled date with the preparations already nearing completion,” Minister Thapa told the reporters. Minister Thapa assured that the elections would be free, fair and transparent. He said that the government was prepared to hold talks with the seven-party alliance on any issue provided they come forward with a clear agenda for the same. Minister Thapa said that the Maoists had been unleashing violence drawing support from the 12-point agreement signed with the seven-party alliance. [34]

Nepal's Maoist guerrillas have claimed that 86 people were killed in clashes with security forces in central Nepal during the weekend while the Ministry Of Defense put the toll at 25. A combing operation conduced by the security forces in Jhurjhure in Phaparbari village of Makwanpur District, Southwest of Kathmandu, triggered a fierce battle between the security forces and the guerrillas on Saturday, January 21, 2006 that continued until Sunday morning. The Defense Ministry said by Sunday, troops had come across the bodies of 17 guerrillas; five soldiers and a policeman were killed in the battle (that saw the army using helicopters to bomb and shoot at guerrilla hideouts); two civilians were also killed in the "crossfire". However, the guerrillas are claiming they lost 22 of their men, including their self-styled Company Commander Robin and Vice-commander Shikhar. The "Special Command In-Charge" of the rebels' underground "People's Liberation Army", known only as Ananta, claimed that 64 security personnel had been killed in the clash. Neither the official toll figure nor that given by the rebels could be verified immediately. The Saturday's clash had been the most severe one since January 2, 2006 when the rebels resumed arms against the government at the end of their four-month truce. The fresh outbreak of violence comes amid King Gyanendra's claims that the security situation in the country has improved since his power grab with the help of the army in February 2005. Tulsi Giri, the king's deputy and Vice-chairman of the Council Of Ministers, has said the "spine" of terrorism had been broken during the king's direct rule. The fresh violence came about two weeks ahead of local elections called by the king on Feb 8. While the government says it will hold polls at all costs, the opposition parties are boycotting them, saying they fear a bloodbath with the Maoists having resumed arms. [35]

On Monday, January 23, 2006, the Nepal Government Employees' Organization (NGEO) submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission, requesting it to ensure the security for life of polling officials and their family members during and after the polls if the government sets to hold the polls with force. An umbrella organization of 400,000 professionals, the Confederation of Nepalese Professionals (CONEP) also called on the government to arrange adequate insurance for the employees, and to narrow down the gap between allowances provided to the polling staff if polls to be held. They called on the government not to hold elections amid chaos and conflict in the country putting the life of the employees at risk, rather explore options for peace. [36]

In a statement issued by students' organizations in Chitwan, they said that the army fired a dozen rounds at Shahid Chowk and Lions Chowk immediately after they began requesting vehicle drivers to switch off their headlights for a peaceful blackout in Narayangadh bazaar of Chitwan on Monday evening, January 23 as a protest against the government holding the municipal elections on February 8, 2006. [37]

The Supreme Court Bar Association organized a candle-lit program on the Monday afternoon, January 23 in a symbolic protest against the continued violations of human rights by the government. Lawyers demanded the government for furnishing the reasons for arresting politicians, civil society leaders and human rights activists. Senior Advocate Radhe Shyam Adhikari accused the king of trying to rule in the Rana-regime style, and said, "The problem will persist until the king gives up ruling the country through decree." [38]

In a press statement, International Confederation Of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU Online) in Brussels said two trade union leaders, GEFONT's President, Makunda Neupane and General Secretary, Binod Shrestha, were arrested in their homes on 19 January. The police also searched the trade union organization's head office and cut the telephone line for three hours. The offices of GEFONT and NTUC are currently under tight police surveillance. The three trade union centers, GEFONT, NTUC and DECONT have firmly condemned the arrests. They fear that NTUC leaders may also be detained. The international trade union movement has strongly urged the authorities take every measure required to ensure the immediate release of the GEFONT leaders as well as other civil society representatives. It also impressed upon the Nepalese government that the arrest of trade union leaders is contrary to the international obligations of the Kingdom of Nepal. The arrests of these trade union leaders, along with other violations of trade union rights in Nepal, will be brought to the attention of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. [39]

In a joint statement, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists and Human Rights Watch said that they are alarmed by the Nepali government's arrest of more than 100 political leaders and civil society activists today, raising fears that violence and human rights abuses could spiral out of control, and by orders reportedly given by the district administrations granting security forces permission to shoot anybody violating curfew at night. The international organizations called on the government immediately to free all the detainees, and to exercise restraint and abide by its international human rights obligations as the country approaches the February 8, deadline set by the government for holding controversial local elections. Nearly all of Nepal’s political parties have opposed holding the elections on the grounds that local conditions do not permit free and fair elections. The organizations also urged the political parties to honor their promise to hold peaceful demonstrations. [40]

Union Network International (UNI) sent a letter to King Gyanendra protesting the arrest of some union leaders. In response to this letter, Mr. Lekhnath Pokhrel, Secretary of CWU Nepal, president of the UNI Nepal Youth Committee and vice-president of UNI-Apro youth have today been released from the police custody. According to TP Khanal, President of CWU Nepal, he got released because of the strong protest letter directed to the king of Nepal by UNI. But he is still under serious threat from the armed force, which means that he is not in a position to stay in his house so he is now hiding. The reason being that he is one of the most popular protesters against the repression in Nepal. Trade unions and civil society in Nepal are preparing a national protest day for January 26. UNI is preparing an international solidarity campaign for the people of Nepal, which will involve all its affiliates all around the globe. [41]

It was a second attack the Maoists have launched in Nepalgunj since Last Friday, January 20. This time eight people were killed including four Maoists, three security forces and one civilian. According to security sources, the Maoist raid started at around 8:15 P.M. on Tuesday, January 24, 2006, and lasted for more than two hours. Eight security personnel were also injured during the attack. The Maoists have carried out a series of attacks across Nepal since ending their four-month unilateral ceasefire on January 2, 2006 saying the government had provoked them to resume violence by failing to match the truce. Political analysts said that the attack was likely aimed at striking fear among the people so they stayed away from the polls. Home Minister Kamal Thapa was visiting Nepalgunj on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 to see the security for municipal polls on February 8, 2006. [42]

On Tuesday, January 24, 2006, Former Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President, Girija Prasad Koirala requested the United Nations, the international community and all the well wishers, not to recognize the upcoming municipal elections boycotted and opposed by the people. President Koirala said that the elections lack social, political, ethical and constitutional grounds; the government was hatching conspiracy to have their own candidates declared elected through the army guarding the ballot boxes. He further stated that the struggle against authoritarianism was linked to the uplift of the nation. "Our movement will stop only after holding constituent assembly elections on the basis of consensus with the Maoists after restoring the House of Representatives and thereby forming an all-party government accountable to the Parliament," Koirala said. [43]

In Beijing, on Tuesday, January 24, 2006, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Kong Quan said, "China hopes that Nepal can be stabilized as soon as possible. Nepal is one of China's friendly neighboring countries, and China is concerned about the current insurgency in Nepal." Kong expressed his hope that all parties involved in Nepal will narrow their differences through dialogue so as to contribute to the country's development and prosperity. Nepal's anti-government guerillas announced an end to the ceasefire on Jan 2, and have since launched activities aimed at ending autocratic monarchy and restoring democracy. [44] Up until this statement of the spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry on the situation in Nepal, the Chinese authorities had been keeping quiet on the political development terming it as an internal matter of Nepal.

In Kathmandu on Tuesday, January 24, 2006, talking to the reporter of the 'Gorkhapatra' in an exclusive interview, popular Hindi-movie actress, granddaughter of the first elected Prime Minister B.P. Koirala, and daughter of current Minister for Science and Technology Prakash Koirala, Manisha Koirala said, “You claim to be democrats but reject the polls. How can you be democratic? The political parties should take part in the polls. People’s mandate is the true identity of the political parties and their leaders. The King is democratic. His Majesty has asked for three years, which is not a very long period. During my stay in Kathmandu, I will help create an atmosphere for polls. It is my duty to come to Nepal during elections.”[45] Manisha has the fame and the money earned by displaying her beautiful body in the bed-scenes of Hindi movies. She is backing not only her father's position as a minister of the unconstitutional government but also the king's position on the repressive politics.

Speaking to the industrialists and entrepreneurs of Nepal Chamber of Commerce at the discussion held at his ministry on January 24, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Buddhi Man Tamang stated that the government is committed to work in collaboration with the private sector for the promotion of industries and businesses; also urged all the entrepreneurs and industrialists to continue with their business activities without any fear during the so-called strike and bandhs (closure), as the government is ready to take all necessary security measures to create atmosphere conducive for the industries and businesses. Assistant Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Rajesh Kaji Shrestha said that the government would compensate for any damages that might be caused by the protestors during the strike on January 26 despite the security precaution taken by the government. [46]

The Nepal government arrested hundreds of protesters across the country ahead of a shutdown called on Thursday, January 26 by political parties. The traditional reception hosted here (in Kathmandu) by the Indian Ambassador to mark the India's Republic Day too was deferred to January 28 because of the nationwide shutdown called by the opposition parties. Nepal's seven major parties have called the strike to protest the mass arrest of their leaders and supporters last week, and the local elections called by King Gyanendra next month (February 8). Though the Indian embassy in Kathmandu held a flag-hoisting ceremony on Thursday morning to mark the Republic Day, attendance was thinner than usual due to the public transport vanishing from the streets and continuing arrests and unrest. The Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), Nepal's largest human rights group, reported the arrest of hundreds of people nationwide on Wednesday (Jan 25), including journalists, opposition leaders and rights activists. Thursday's closure falls on the day the Election Commission (EC) in Kathmandu will accept the names of nominees from 72 parties taking part in civic elections to be held on February 8. There is the fear of greater violence during the controversial elections as the Maoists have warned they will prevent them. According to the EC decision's, those fighting for the posts of mayor and deputy mayor will be insured for Rs 700,000 (US$10,000) in the case of "personal accidents" while ward chairmen would get a cover of Rs 600,000 (US$8,571), and a ward member Rs 500,000 (US$7,143). The government has already declared an insurance cover of Rs 700,000 (US$10,000) for gazette officers and Rs 500,000 (US$7,143) for non-gazette employees involved in poll arrangements. The insurance scheme was announced after Maoists warned they would start taking "action" against those connected with the polls. [47]

Most of the Nepali people have been raising a question; can Nepali government hold municipal elections on the scheduled date? The question arose, as the people are terrified because of the anti-government guerrillas' activities and seven political party's agitation, on one hand, and government's position to hold the election at any rate, on the other hand. The Nepali government is holding municipal polls on February 8 despite the call from seven-agitating-political parties to actively boycott it and the anti-government guerrillas threats to disrupt it. The Nepali Election Commission on Tuesday (January 24) published a detailed program for the municipal polls, but the same day the anti-government guerrillas increased their activities against the poll. The anti-government forces on Tuesday launched massive attacks at almost all the security posts in Nepalgunj city of mid-western Banke district. The guerrillas simultaneously targeted Ward, District and Zonal Police Offices, Police Training Center, District Administration Office, along with army's posts with bombs and modern weapons killing at least three security personnel and injuring eight others. Series of explosions have occurred around the city until late in the evening. The insurgents exploded Improvised Explosive Device at the District Education Office in eastern Bhojpur district, about 400 km east of Kathmandu, damaging property worth of about Rs 400,000 (US$ 5,714). The guerrillas on Tuesday evening triggered bomb blasts at the Ward-Number-Two Office of Banepa Municipality in central Kavre district, about 50 km east of Kathmandu. Similarly, vehicular movement on the Siddhartha Highway in western Nepal has been disrupted since Tuesday due to obstructions placed by the armed guerrillas at different places. The guerrillas obstructed placing tree trunks and rocks across the road at different places, parking a truck in the middle of the road and planting explosives in the tires of the truck. On Sunday also, hundreds of passengers and vehicles remained stranded following guerrillas placing roadblocks in western Rupandahi district across East-West Mahendra Highway, one of the major highways of Nepal, to support the seven political parties to boycott the forthcoming municipal elections. The guerrillas murdered a mayoral candidate of Nepal Sadbhavana Political Party, in eastern Janakpur city on Sunday (January 22). They have been threatening the candidate to take physical actions across the country. Guerrillas also have been targeting several local government offices. Guerrillas have announced a weeklong general strike across the country from Feb 5 to Feb 11 to disrupt the election on Feb 8. [48]

On Wednesday, January 25, in a press statement, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said that the security forces were using 'excessive force' in rallies held by the political parties arresting and brutally beating up innocent people and passersby not involved in the protests. This statement was based on the evidences it collected. The NHRC also asked the government to issue immediate directions to the security forces not to resort to 'excessive force' or inflict injuries on pedestrians and passersby and recommended the government to provide medical treatment to the injured. [49]

The seven-party alliance would step up protests against autocracy and municipal polls, pledging to mark February 1 as ''Black Day''. The protesters plan to burn autocracy in effigy across the country and would organize corner meetings with torch rallies starting on January 28. Supporting the seven parties, students and women's organizations would also launch nationwide protest on January 31. On the first anniversary of King Gyanendra's power grab on February 1, 2005, main political parties would hold nationwide protests and hoist black flags at public places. "We will demonstrate all over the place on Wednesday, February 1, 2006 and hoist black flags in public places throughout the country to mark it as a black day," a spokesman for the country's biggest political party, Nepali Congress, Krishna Prasad Sitaula told Reuters. "We are not afraid of repression. Ours is a peaceful movement to get our rights taken away by the monarch back," speaking for seven parties Sitaula said. (50)

In a severe loss of face for the king claiming to have broken the spine of the Maoist insurgency during his one-year absolute rule, out of registered 72 parties, less than 10 parties have fielded their candidates for elections. Among them, the major three parties Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Badri Prasad Mandal), Nepal Samata Party led by Minister Narayan Singh Pun and a faction of Rastriya Prajatantra Party led by Home Minister Kamal Thapa are to take part in the polls. Only 3,255 individuals filed nomination papers for the 4,146 vacant positions for which elections are due to be held on February 8, leaving many posts with no candidates. Twenty-six out of the Kathmandu Valley’s 110 wards lacked candidates for the position of ward chairman, signaling the strength of the boycott even in the only part of the country still controlled by the pro-monarch Royal Nepalese Army. The meager number of nominations is likely to increase pressure on the king to abandon the election, widely seen as without any democratic value by western diplomats, and engage in talks with the parties. “It is a political defeat for the king,” said Rajendra Dahal, editor of Himal Khabarpatrika, Nepal’s largest-selling news magazine. “The forthcoming election may be legal but it will have no political legitimacy.” The municipal election is part of what King Gyanendra says is his three-year “road map” for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. The king plans on first holding local elections – of which the municipal elections are a part – and then parliamentary elections before handing over power to elected representatives “within three years”. To counter the king's so-called 'road map', political parties and the Maoists have forged a loose alliance to push for immediate nationwide elections to a constituent assembly that would devise a new constitution for Nepal – possibly excluding the king or limiting him to a ceremonial role. In Kathmandu, after the nominations were filed in the City Hall under tight security, the nominees held a meeting with security officials. "The government says it can't provide security to the contestants individually," said one of the candidates. "We should either agree to stay together under protection or stay away from our residences until the polls end. How can we agree to that?" After the meeting, the security personnel bundled the nominees in security vehicles to escort them home. All the 113 individuals, who have filed candidature from the Dailekh district for all posts in the Narayan Municipality of the district, have been taken to the security camp for protection. Security forces have housed all the candidates contesting the upcoming polls under a tent erected on the premises of Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) barrack since Thursday, January 26. Reports say poor show right in the beginning of the election process for the municipal polls has worried the officials. However, an Election Commission spokesperson said he was happy to note that nominations had been filed across the country without any disturbance. The rebels abducted a mayoral candidate Ram Kumar Tharu in Gulariya in the far western Bardiya district on Friday, January 27. He is a member of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Badri). The guerrillas had already shot dead another mayoral candidate from the same party in Janakpur. (51)

On January 26, the country was shut down in a national strike called by political parties to protest against the dictatorial King Gyanendra and against filling the nominees to the various municipal positions for elections to be held on February 8, 2006. The streets of Kathmandu were deserted. Protesters attacked vehicles. Visitors could venture out of hotels only in special buses with banners reading "Tourists only". "Thief, Gyanendra! Leave the country!" the demonstrators chanted as they marched in thousands through Kathmandu. For the first time, people are talking openly here about replacing the monarchy with a republic. The demonstrators have been tear-gassed, doused with water cannons, beaten with batons and now shot at. But still they keep coming. The international press corps covering the rallies is wearing motorcycle helmets to avoid head injuries. The protesters have vowed to boycott municipal elections being held on 8 February, saying they are just a fig leaf for the King to claim he is restoring democracy. The strike was held in part to prevent candidates filing their papers. The Maoists have threatened to target any candidate. They have already killed one, and so serious is the situation that the government is offering special life insurance to anyone brave enough to stand. Analysts say it was the talks between the Maoists and the parties that galvanized public opinion against the King. The party leaders promise to deliver peace, but the King insists there is a military solution. [52]

On Thursday, January 26 when Nepal was paralyzed by the nationwide shutdown called by the seven opposition parties to protest against the king's rule and the elections, Bollywood star Manisha Koirala went to Biratnagar to file the nomination on behalf of Binod Arryal, as an independent candidate for the mayor of Biratnagar. While star-struck youngsters lined up the road to catch a glimpse of Manisha, political activists shouted slogans denouncing her participation in the poll campaign. "I am not scared just because a handful of people are raising slogans against me," she said. "I feel good when there is a challenge. I have come here all the way from Mumbai to get Arryal elected." The film star is the granddaughter of the late B.P. Koirala, Nepal's first elected prime minister and one of the kingdom's most charismatic leaders. While her grandfather's party, the Nepali Congress is boycotting the elections; Manisha has thrown her weight behind her father Prakash Koirala who has been supporting the poll and was made a minister in return for supporting the King Gyanendra's power grab last year. [53]

Protestors displayed an ox as a candidate for mayor and a dog as a candidate for ward president in front of the Patan multiple campus, Kathmandu on Wednesday, January 25, 2006. A similar protest was organized in Chabahil, Kathmandu, on Tuesday, January 24, 2006. Police ran after the dog, tearing off a banner reading, "Vote for Me" from its back. The demo was first staged in Pokhara, a city in western Nepal, and drew nationwide attention. [54]

The European Union (EU) has come down heavily on the controversial local elections to be held in Nepal on February 8, 2006 saying it would be a backward step for democracy. The EU issued a strongly worded statement to the Himalayan Kingdom on Friday, January 27. "For the elections to be meaningful it is crucial that they be held in direct consultation with the political parties as part of an exercise to establish a full return to democracy. The fact that no such consultation has taken place means that the planned municipal elections will be another step backwards for democracy and are likely to further polarize positions." The EU statement came after opposition leader and three-time Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala urged the international community and the United Nations to de-recognize the election called by King Gyanendra. Though the election is just 10 days away, the royalist government has kept hundreds of opposition activists imprisoned, curfew remains imposed in several districts and prepaid mobile telephone services have been shut down. The EU came down on the government's use of force to suppress opposition rallies, saying they were "the Nepali people's exercise of fundamental rights" and violated international conventions. It has asked the government and security forces to immediately restore all political and civil liberties, free all political prisoners and human rights defenders, and allow political and civil rights freedom of assembly and speech. The 25-member EU also regretted King Gyanendra's refusal to reciprocate the four-month ceasefire called by Maoist insurgents last year and to use it to start peace negotiations. [55]

The Ministry of Finance released Rs 25 million to the Ministry of Information and Communication against the request of State Minister for Information and Communication Shrish Shumsher Rana made at the cabinet meeting on January 9 for Rs 50 million to ‘mobilize the media’ in favor of the government and the municipal elections. The information source stated that the minister in the cabinet meeting on Agenda Number 21 proposed the cabinet to release Rs 50 million in order to mobilize the media in a ‘propaganda war’ against the seven political parties. Although the cabinet did not pass the proposal, the Finance Ministry released the amount as demanded by the State Minister. [56]

Weeping mothers, wives, daughters, and sons threatening to commit suicide if their loved ones do not withdraw from the candidacy for the municipal elections are striking another blow to the controversial local elections called by King Gyanendra on February 8, 2006. Most of the families of those who filed their candidacy have been in tears, they knew that the lives and the property of the contestants for the municipal positions were at risk, as they have been the targets for the Maoists to hit hard. [57]

On Saturday, January 28, 2006 the last day for withdrawal of candidacy for municipal elections, more than 600 panicky contestants have opted out of the race from the controversial municipal elections called by King Gyanendra due to the Maoists' threat to their lives and property while families of many others complained their kin were being forced to participate. There are also complaints from many "nominees" who say they were tricked or forced into signing nomination papers. There was widespread complaint from families of many contestants still in the race that security personnel have kept them confined without allowing them to meet family members. The underground rebel "in-charge" of Kathmandu Valley, known only as Prabha Kiran, issued an ultimatum, asking candidates to withdraw or face even grave action. The municipal elections are held in cities, where the might of the security forces is concentrated. Even then, people have not come forward to participate. "It's been proved the election is a farce," opposition leader Girija Prasad Koirala told IANS. "I don't even hold the government responsible for the failure. The king owes the sole responsibility." [58]

Candidates for the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Siddhartha Nagar Municipality have stated that they are taking part in the municipal elections for giving a way out to the country from the present difficult situation and to exercise their democratic rights. They said that the self-proclaimed democratic political parties themselves have allied with the Maoists and issued threats to the persons who have filed nominations for the different municipal posts in the municipal elections. [59] The state-run newspaper 'The Rising Nepal' further stated that candidates have already begun going from door to door of the voters campaigning for themselves.

Mayors and deputy mayors for 22 and 20 municipalities have been elected unopposed while two posts for deputy mayors remained vacant as no candidates registered their nominations. The deputy mayors elected unopposed were also from within these 22 municipalities but no candidacies were registered for the post in Palpa and Butwal municipalities, said the Election Commission (EC). On Sunday, January 29, 2006, the EC published the final list of candidates and provided election symbols to them. The EC has revealed 136 election symbols for them. Spokesperson for the EC, Tej Muni Bajracharya said that the candidates would start publicity campaign from Monday, January 30 and they would be able to continue it until the night of February 5. “The district security committees will manage security arrangement for the candidates during the election campaign,” he said. The candidates would have to abide by the code of conduct during their campaign. The code of conduct has the provision for the mayors and deputy mayors of the Metropolitan City to spend up to Rs. 300,000 (US$ 4,286) and ward chairman and ward members could spend not more than Rs. 58,000 (US$ 829) on election. Mayor and deputy mayors of the Sub-Metropolitan City may spend up to Rs. 140,000 (US$ 2,000) and ward chairman and ward members may spend up to Rs. 30,000 (US$ 429), said spokesman Bajracharya quoting the EC code of conduct. Mayors and deputy mayors for the municipalities may spend not more than Rs. 90,000 (US$ 1,286) and the ward chairman and ward members may spend up to Rs. 24,000 (US$ 343). [60]

In a press statement, the Central People’s Movement Coordination Committee called upon the people to socially and politically boycott the ‘elected persons’ saying the municipal elections were being held to prolong the King's autocracy and the elected people did not represent the people, and stop them from entering the local body offices. It also condemned the government for keeping under control some of the persons even after they were declared elected unopposed. The seven-party alliance has been actively and effectively boycotting the municipal polls. [61]

The showdown between the king and the opposition might reach the climax on the Election Day (February 8) and perhaps would indicate who would win the game. As long as the Royal Nepal Army remains loyal to the king, he might be able to ignore the international and internal pressure, and would not give up the power he had grab.

*****************

Siddhi B. Ranjitkar is a political analyst in Kathmandu.


Footnotes

[1] nepalnews.com by Jan 18 06

[2] The Rising Nepal, Jan 19, 2006

[3] Yubraj Ghimire, The Indian Express Jan 19, 2006

[4] Binaj Gurubacharya, Associated Press Writer, Jan 18, 2006, 11:07PM

[5] nepalnews.com kk Jan 19 06.

[6] nepalnews.com by Jan 19 06(10:32 a.m.)

[7] nepalnews.com by Jan 19 06(12:00 noon)

[8] The Rising Nepal, Jan 20, 2006

[9] The Rising Nepal, Jan 20, 2006

[10] UN NEWS CENTER

[11] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 23:33:27

[12] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 23:33:27

[13] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 09:22:59

[14] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 09:22:59

[15] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 09:22:59

[16] eKantipur.com posted on: 2006-01-19 09:22:59

[17] eKantipur.com Jan 21, 2006

[18] nepalnews.com pb Jan 22 06

[19] The Hindu, Jan 21, 2006

[20] eKantipur.com Jan 21, 2006

[21] eKantipur.com Jan 21, 2006

[22] eKantipur.com Jan 23, 2006

[23] eKantipur.com Jan 23, 2006

[24] Nepalese Media

[25] eKantipur.com Jan 22, 2006

[26] eKantipur.com Jan 23, 2006

[27] eKantipur.com Jan 23, 2006

[28] eKantipur.com Jan 23, 2006

[29] Twenty-Twenty Bharat Bhushan, The Telegraph (Online), Calcutta, Jan 23, 2006

[30] Webindia123.com, Jan 22, 2006 2:15:06 PM IST

[31] NewsLineNepal.com 2006-01-23 10:06:57

[32] The Rising Nepal Jan 24, 2006

[33] The Rising Nepal Jan 24, 2006

[34] The Rising Nepal Jan 24, 2006

[35] The Times of India, Online Jan 23, 2006

[36] eKantipur.com Jan 24, 2006

[37] eKantipur.com Jan 24, 2006

[38] eKantipur.com Jan 24, 2006

[39] Scoop.co.nz Jan 24, 2006

[40] Scoop.co.nz Jan 24, 2006

[41] http://www.union-network.org - contact@union-network.org

[42] nepalnews.com by/ia/pb Jan 25 06, Khaleej Times online, Jan 25, 2006, Reuters AlertNet UK, Jan 25, 2006, BBC NEWS, Jan 25, 2006

[43] eKantipur.com Jan 25, 2006, NewsLineNepal.com Jan 25, 2006

[44] People's Daily Online Jan 25, 2006, Source: Xinhua

[45] 'The Rising Nepal' Jan 25, 2006

[46] 'The Rising Nepal' Jan 25, 2006

[47] The Times of India online Jan 26, 2006; Newkerala.com Jan 26, 2006, nepalnews.com pb Jan 26 06

[48] China View, Xinhuanet, Jan 25, 2006

[49] nepalnews.com pb Jan 26 06

[50] Reuters, Jan 27, 2006, NDTV.com Jan 28, 2006, ZEENEWS.com Jan 28, 2006, Webindia123.com Jan 29, 2006

[51] The Times of India, Jan 27, 2006, nepalnews.com by/ia Jan 26 06, FT.com/world/Asia-Pacific, NewsLineNepal.com Jan 28, 2006

[52] Justin Huggler in Kathmandu, The Independent Online Edition Jan 27, 2006

[53] Newkerala.com Jan 27, 2006

[54] OhmyNews international Jan 27, 2006

[55] Hindustan Times.com, Jan 28, 2006 Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)

[56] nepalnews.com pb/yp Jan 27 06

[57] Newkerala.com Jan 28, 2006

[58] Webindia123.com Jan 29, 2006, eKantipur.com Jan 29, 2006

[59] The Rising Nepal Jan 29, 2006

[60] The Rising Nepal, Jan 30, 2006

[61] nepalnews.com pb Jan 30 06

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