As part of their second round of agitation against Nepal President Ram Baran Yadav’s “extra-constitutional” step to reinstate the then Army Chief, Rookmangud Katawal, in May, the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) on Thursday picketed Singhadarbar, where Nepal’s Ministries are located.

Thousands of Maoists blocked all entry points to Singhadarbar from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some Ministers reached their offices early in the morning to avoid the blockade, but many could not get in.

The protest led by Maoist leaders including chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” was generally peaceful. But it turned chaotic when protesters tried to enter a prohibited zone. The police used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to disperse the protesters. The police said 11 protesters and five policemen were injured during the clash.

Senior Maoist leader and coordinator of the struggle committee Baburam Bhattarai said the government used force unnecessarily to disperse their “peaceful” protests carried out in a “festive mood”. The protesters were singing and dancing during the demonstration; even Mr. Prachanda danced to the tunes of a folk song with a Nepali actress.

The Maoists have been demanding restoration of civilian supremacy ever since General Katawal was reinstated. They want this issue to be discussed in Parliament, a move opposed by the ruling CPN(UML) and the Nepali Congress. In protest, the Maoists have been blocking Parliament activities for more than four months.

The second round of agitation would conclude on Friday with continued picketing of Singhadarbar. The party chairman has warned of a “stronger revolt” if the government does not meet their demands.

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