Nepal: Hundreds of thousands defy curfew in capital

4-21-06, 9:13 am

KATHMANDU, April 21 - The police fired at the protestors defying curfew in Kalanki killing at least three and injuring dozens. The Armed Police Force (APF) personnel fired live and rubber bullets on the mass of about 35,000.

In a clear defiance of the government's decree of imposition of curfew for 18 straight hours that has been extended to 25 hours in a stretch, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in the capital and defied the decree on Thursday. The police opened fire at many places and resorted to tear gas and lathi (long club) almost everywhere.

Our correspondents Sangeeta Rijal and Bishnu Budhathoki reported from Kalanki that the police chased journalists away and opened unprovoked and indiscriminate firing at the peaceful protestors. Senior Superintendent of the Armed Police Force Durja Kumar Rai was seen firing with his pistol at the protesters. Rai shot one of the protestors who was shouting from a rooftop of the house of Ram Prasad Dhungana. He subsequently collapsed and died.

Among three dead, one person has been identified as Basu Ghimire, 22 from Hetauda.

A boy about 14 years old was beaten mercilessly by 12-15 policemen until he nearly collapsed. When he got up and started dragging himself along, another group of policemen beat him up brutally. Protestors said the boy, whose whereabouts are not known, died later.

Police used loud speakers to disperse the crowd only after opening the fire.

Family members of Dhungana said that a policeman also shot at some people drinking water. An eyewitness, Rabi Thapa, said that SSP Rai killed a boy from a close range with a pistol; while the latter was raising his hands up and pleading for mercy.

Dr Sarita Pandey at the Emergency Ward of the Kathmandu Model Hospital, Bagbazar, where most of the injured were taken to, said the three persons were pronounced dead upon arrival. She said two of them were shot with live bullets on head, while the third one on his chest. Among the 70 injured brought to the hospital, she said, about 20, who have received live bullets, are in critical condition.

A Model Hospital source said the security personnel took the dead bodies away from the hospital in the evening without seeking any permission from the hospital.

Divesh Gautam, Rup Chandra Shrestha, Bikash Khadka, Santa Bahadur Lama, Murari Prasad Bedari, Sunil Thapa, Nawaraj Parajuli, Pradip Sigdel and Ram Chandra Shrestha are among those seriously injured by bullets in Kalanki.

Following the incident, several policemen entered Syuchatar residential area near Kalanki and mercilessly beat up several locals without asking their identities.

The demonstrators in Kalanki had come from Thankot, Matatirtha, Kirtipur and other surrounding areas.

Some others were taken to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. Dr Manohar Pradhan at the hospital said among the 30 injured brought to the hospital, only one has received bullet injury on his back. 'About 75 percent of others have received head injuries,' he said. Most of the injured in this hospital were brought from Gongabu and some from Kalanki.

Meanwhile, over 100,000 people marched in and around Narayan Gopal Chowk in Maharajgunj. The mass was led by Prakash Man Singh of Nepali Congress (Democratic) and Bamshidhar Mishra of CPN-UML. The rally was largely peaceful.

In Gongabu, where the APF personnel had opened about 100 rounds of unprovoked fire last Tuesday leaving many injured, more than 40,000 people marched on Thursday. The police charged batons, fired rubber bullets and tear-gas shells in today's clash.

Ajay Kumar Sah, radiographer at the Vinayak Hospital, Gongabu, said about 50 persons injured in the Gongabu incident were taken there. Twelve of them, who were critically injured, were referred to the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital. 'And, there are more injured coming in,' he added.

Another tens of thousands of people defied curfew in Chabahil. The locals were boosting morale of the protestors by spraying water on them.

Local youths took out rallies spontaneously in all neighborhoods in inner alleys inside the Ring Road, drawing tens of thousands of people.

In all these rallies, the protestors had chanted, as usual, harsh slogans against the king. They had also chanted slogans like 'army and police are our brothers', while requesting the security personnel to prove their loyalty toward the people, not the king. In Ghattekulo,

people standing in their rooftops banged steel plates, to express solidarity with the ongoing pro-democracy movement.

From Kantipur