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Curfew in Kathmandu; Koirala under house arrest

January 20, 2006 12:42 IST

Armed Police Force personnel have been deployed at Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala's residence since early Friday morning even as Nepal's royal government announced a daytime curfew in the capital.

Ten APF personnel haveĀ surrounded the residence of Koirala, who was supposed to lead anti-king demonstrations in Kathmandu Friday, family sources said.

The government announced daytime curfew from 8 am to 6 pm in a notice issued Thursday night.

However, political parties said they will continue their movement despite the curfew. Home Minister Kamal Thapa had earlier said the government had issued prohibitory orders to prevent violence.

Night curfew, which had been imposed for the past few days, remained effective from 9 pm Thursday till 4 am Friday morning.

Movement of people was thin in the capital after the government announced night curfew. Many are unaware of the daytime curfew as the notice was issued at night through the government-run Nepal Television and Nepal Radio.

Political party sources said they would defy any type of government orders.

Meanwhile, six political activists, including Nepal Sadbhawana Party leader Rajendra Mahato, were Friday arrested for defying curfew and staging demonstrations as thousands of troops patrolled the streets of the capital to enforce the regulation aimed at thwarting a massive anti-king rally.

Mahato and central NSP member Anil Kumar Jha were among the six arrested as they came out of hiding and staged demonstration at 9 am, an hour after the curfew began, sources said.

NSP is one of the members of the seven party alliance agitating against the king's rule.

Anti-king demonstrations were also reported in Balaju and some other places outside the Ring road of Kathmandu, where curfew did not apply.

There was an eerie silence in Kathmandu as the day curfew came in force. Thousands of army personnel and policemen were standing guard, searching vehicles and frisking individuals in various parts of the city since early morning.

The government has arrested more than 200 people including prominent party leaders, human right activists and civil society members from Kathmandu on Thursday and most of the leaders have gone underground to prepare for the planned anti-king demonstration Friday.

Authorities had also cut off mobile and wireless phone services Thursday. Political parties have pledged to defy the ban with demonstrations in various parts of the city.

Former Nepalese Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, who is under house arrest, told PTI just before his landline was disconnected that the present situation in the country was "very unfortunate" and blamed the king for it.

"This is also unfortunate for the institution of monarchy," the 83-year-old Nepali Congress president said.

Describing the measures taken by the government to foil the demonstrations as an "extreme form of suppression", Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist Leninist leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who has also been put under house arrest, said the government itself will be responsible for any consequences.

He called upon the people to join the seven party agitation for the restoration of democracy. Meanwhile, Nepali Congress has in a statement urged the government to release all political activists and called people to join their demonstration by defying the curfew.

Shirish B Pradhan in Kathmandu
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