Indo-Nepal border shuts down for Thursday’s poll

April 8th, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, April 8 (IANS) The nearly 1,800 km open border between Nepal and its southern neighbour India was closed down at 10 a.m. Tuesday to boost security for the crucial Constituent Assembly (CA) election in the Himalayan nation Thursday. Nepal’s home ministry said the border would remain sealed for three days to prevent untoward incidents, especially the smuggling in of musclemen, weapons and explosives by armed groups along the Indo-Nepal border who have threatened to disrupt the first-ever CA election.

Besides aerial patrols by helicopters, additional security personnel have been deployed in the Terai plains, Nepal’s Achilles heel, where four armed groups led by a band of former Maoists have called an indefinite shutdown from Tuesday in a bid to wreck the election.

Explosions were reported from four districts Monday, including the capital, with the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha headed by former Maoist Jwala Singh acknowledging responsibility for at least two.

Besides blasts in Birgunj town, Kathmandu, and Sunsari district, a late night explosion was also reported from Biratnagar near the border, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s hometown.

The Ranvir Sena, an illegal ‘army’ of upper caste landlords from India, said it had engineered the explosion.

Nepal’s ruling parties, including the Maoists, fear that Hindu militants from India’s Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states across the border would try to influence Thursday’s vote in a bid to save Nepal’s embattled monarchy, which could be abolished by the election.

At least one Nepali party, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum that is expected to attack the former supremacy of the prime minister’s Nepali Congress party in the Terai plains, is also regarded as having links with Indian parties across the border.

The election, regarded as being a crucial step for restoring peace and stability in the insurgency-racked former Hindu kingdom, was postponed twice last year, each time due to the flare-up of violence in the Terai.

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