Demanding removal of King Gyanendra and restoration of democracy, activists clash with police

Kathmandu: Nepali police arrested more than 300 supporters of the seven major political parties here during a demonstration demanding the restoration of democracy and the removal of King Gyanendra who had seized power nearly a year ago.

Thousands of supporters of the parties raised anti-King slogans on the streets, defying the prohibitory ban on political activities on Saturday and clashed with security forces in various parts of the capital.

Security forces fired several rounds of tear gas and charged at the crowds with batons to disperse thousands of people attending the demonstration in various parts of the city, the parties said.

Over a dozen activists of the parties were injured in the baton charge, the parties alliance said.

Rescheduled

The parties had rescheduled the peaceful demonstration in Kathmandu after the Government imposed a day-long curfew in addition to the night time curfew.

The supporters of democracy gathered in various places, demanding an end to the autocratic monarchy in the Himalayan Kingdom, and converged in a mass meeting in Bashantpur, the city centre of the capital, which is also a prohibitory area for mass gathering to foil the demonstration of seven parties.

Nepali Congress joint general secretary Ram Sharan Mahat, treasurer Mahanta Thakur, student leaders Guru Raj Ghimire, Yubraj Gyawali and Kamal Koirala, former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Nabin Prakash Jung Shah were arrested from various parts of the city.

Democracy supporters clashed with security forces in various parts and burnt tyres and pelted stones.

Protest rallies were carried out from various corners of the city despite interventions at various intersections and the strong presence of security forces.

There are reports of such demonstrations outside Kathmandu supporting the movement of the seven party alliance for the restoration of democracy in the Himalayan Kingdom.

Dozens of pro-democracy supporters were arrested in Biratnagar, while the Surkhet bazaar remained shut following a one-day general strike called by the alliance in the wake of the arrest of dozens of leaders and activists from Friday's protest programmes.

Senior leaders including the Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala and CPN,UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal have been under house arrest.

Litterateurs injured

Police also intervened in a peaceful demonstration being organised by artistes, litterateurs and writers at New Baneswore and arrested literary figures including Anand Dev Bhatta, Dr. Tulasi Bhattarai, Arjun Parajuli and Nanda Krishna Joshi.

Some literary personalities were also injured during the police intervention.

The parties have been demanding the restoration of democracy since the King seized power on February 1, 2005 and the movement has intensified recently.

India, U.S., U.K., European Union, Japan, United Nations and Human Rights organisations around the globe have condemned the Government for the arrest of political parties, who are saying that their protest would be peaceful. - UNI