Anti-Maoist protests in Kathmandu after murder

May 16th, 2008 - 3:06 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 16 (IANS) Enraged residents blocked roads and began anti-Maoist demonstrations in Kathmandu’s busy Koteshwor area Friday after allegations by a woman that her husband was abducted and killed by former guerrilla soldiers in a camp in south Nepal that is under the supervision of the UN. Ramila Shrestha, in her 40s, led the protesters, carrying a photograph of her husband, Ram Hari Shrestha, who, she alleged, was killed by the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers in their Shaktikhor cantonment in Chitwan district.

Ramila said PLA soldiers and leaders, including a commander known as Vividh, had stayed at her residence in Koteshwor.

However, there was a dispute between the guerrillas and her husband following allegations of theft levelled against him.

Ram Hari was accused of either having a hand in the disappearance of a large sum of money from the room in which the guerrillas stayed or the disappearance of some of their weapons.

He was said to have been abducted from the city about three weeks ago and marched off to the Shaktikhor cantonment.

Ramila told the media Friday that when she went to the camp Thursday to ask about her husband’s whereabouts, Vividh told her that he died after being beaten up and his body was thrown into the Narayani river.

She also alleged that though the murder had been brought to the notice of Maoist chairman Prachanda, who is also the supreme commander of the PLA, he had taken no action against the guerrillas involved.

Friday’s protests, asking for justice for the dead man, comes at a time the local media has been reporting other Maoist atrocities, including assaulting school teachers and forcing them to resign.

Such reports would tarnish the image of the party that was hailed by the world for having laid down arms and taken part in a national election last month.

After emerging as the biggest party in the April election, the former rebels have been trying to form the new government and negotiating with the other major parties.

However, the two other large parties, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist, have said they would not join a Maoist-led coalition if the guerrillas did not end violence.

The allegation of murder will also affect the ongoing parleys in Washington, where the US government says it will review its adverse opinion of the Maoists as a terrorist organisation, only after there was a complete cessation of violence.

The alleged murder also raises doubts about the role of the UN mission in Nepal that is entrusted with supervising the PLA camps to ensure that guerrilla soldiers and their arms remain inside.

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