Hundreds of royal supporters paralysed the capital today in protest against the abolition of the monarchy and demanded a referendum on restoring the centuries—old institution and Nepal’s status as a Hindu state.
Over 200 activists of pro-monarchy Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N), including a former minister, were arrested in the capital as they enforced a general strike in three districts of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.
The RPP-N, one of the smallest party in the 601-Constituent Assembly with just four members, have been demanding a referendum on the decision to abolish the monarchy in 2008 and transform the country into a secular republic.
Hundreds of pro-monarchist shouted slogans including “Establish Hindu rule” and “We don’t want a republic”.
The police arrested Tanka Dhakal, a former Communication Minister in the royal cabinet and over two hundred other activists from different parts of the capital in connection with the general strike, said Ganesh Khatri Chhetri, the Chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan Police.
They were arrested while tying to stop vehicles from plying and using force to close down shops, he said.
Led by Kamal Thapa, a former Home Minister in the erstwhile royal government, RPP-N argues that the Constituent Assembly cannot decide the fate of monarchy and a referendum should be conducted on the issue.
“We have organised the protests to demand referendum on three key issues: the fate of the monarchy, restoration of Nepal as a Hindu state and a federal system,” Rajaram Shrestha, central member of Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal, said.
Normal life in the capital was completely paralised by the shutdown called by the monarchist group to demand referendum on the abolition monarchy and Nepal’s status as a Hindu state.
This was the first time the pro-royalists called a general strike for restoration of the institution.
“The government and the Constituent Assembly will have to be dissolved if the Constitution is not drafted within the time stipulated,” Mr. Thapa said.
Mass protests against former king Gyanendra that began in April 2006 finally culminated in the abolition of the 240-year-old monarchy soon after the CPN-Maoist emerged as the largest party in the Assembly polls in 2008.
Many ordinary Nepalese were delighted to see the back of the dour, unpopular king as well as his son Paras.
Political tensions have been high in Nepal since a government led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) resigned last year amid a dispute with President Ram Baran Yadav over the reinstatement of General Rukmangad Katawal, the then Army Chief dismissed by Maoists Prime Minister Prachanda last May.
The Maoists have demanded that the president publicly admit that he acted “unconstitutionally”. They then want the 22-party government disbanded, followed by the formation of a new coalition led by them.
The standoff has put new stresses on Nepal’s reconciliation efforts amid fears that the stalled peace process may be derailed if the deadlock is not ended soon.