Nepal scribes call off stir, opposition calls shutdown

December 29th, 2008 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Dec 29 (IANS) After a weeklong protest over growing attacks on the media under the new Maoist government, Nepal’s journalists Monday called off their stir following a pact with the state. But the main opposition party went on the warpath, calling a shutdown to avenge an attack on its cadres.Journalists nationwide began a united protest movement last week after a private media house was attacked by a group of people led by Maoist trade union leaders and the rally by journalists in the capital in condemnation was baton-charged by security forces.

Last Tuesday, major newspapers left their editorial space blank while radio and television stations dropped their headlines. It was followed by journalists wearing a black arm band and staging a rally sporting gags.

After talks between Maoist Information and Communications Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara and journalists’ bodies Sunday night, the scribes agreed to call off the stir as the government pledged to bring the attackers to book.

Maoist trade union cadres, who had blocked the eastern office of Nepal’s leading daily Kantipur in Biratnagar town, also agreed to allow the beleaguered daily and its sister publication in English, the Kathmandu Post, to resume printing from Monday.

However, even as the Maoist government heaved a sigh of relief, its main opposition, former prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress, called a shutdown in Palpa district in western Nepal.

The opposition party, which has been also boycotting parliament since this month demanding an explanation from Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, said its leaders, including a former legislator, had been assaulted by the youth wing of the Maoists over effacing slogans in a college campus.

The Nepali Congress, whose support is necessary for the Prachanda government to accomplish any major task, including the drafting of a new constitution by 2010 and merging the guerrilla People’s Liberation Army with the state army, has refused to cooperate until Prachanda sets a deadline for implementing the pledges he made in parliament.

The promises include returning the properties captured by the Maoists during the 10-year insurgency, disbanding the paramilitary structure of the Maoists’ strong arm organ, the Young Communist League, and refraining from violence.

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