Although Maoists had claimed that their three-day general strike would be peaceful, the first day of their Nepal bandh here on Sunday turned violent with clashes between Maoist cadres and the police that left a Deputy Superintendent of Police seriously injured.

More than 20 policemen and around two dozen protesters, including two Constituent Assembly members, were injured in the clashes. Maoist cadres did not even allow people to ride bicycles. Reports said over 25 vehicles were vandalised and 72 protesters arrested.

Clashes between the police and protesters also erupted when Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who had returned from Copenhagen, was being escorted from the Tribhuvan International Airport to his official residence in Baluwatar.

At the airport, Mr. Nepal reminded the Maoists of their agreement not to launch strikes after signing the Comprehensive Peace Accord in 2006, when they officially ended their decade-long people’s war. He also requested them to withdraw the strike and sit for talks.

Later, at a meeting in the evening, Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachhadar said Maoists had breached all past agreements by launching the strike, and claimed that the country was pushed towards confrontation.

Mr. Gachhadar said the government would take sterner measures against protesters from Monday if they breached the law.

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