Kathmandu shutdown called to protest ‘Maoist murders’November 19th, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Nov 19 (IANS) Enraged family members and members of the public have announced a shutdown of Kathmandu valley Thursday after the discovery of the bodies of two cadres of a ruling party who were allegedly abducted by Maoists a month ago.Angry protests Wednesday paralysed the capital city as people went on the warpath following the recovery of the bodies of Nirmal Pant and Pushkar Dhangol, residents of Kathmandu, buried near the bank of a stream in Dhading district.
Both Pant and Dhangol were members of the Youth Force, the militant youth wing formed by the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), which is the second largest party in the Maoist-led government.
The Youth Force, formed this year to combat the Young Communist League (YCL), the strong arm of the Maoists, has been frequently engaged in violent combats with the latter.
The two young men had disappeared a month ago while travelling to Dhading. A third youth who was with them at the time they were marched off but managed to escape alleges that the YCL was behind the abduction.
The discovery of the bodies Tuesday caused public outrage in Kathmandu Wednesday with people attacking a YCL office and vandalising nearly half a dozen vehicles.
Traffic was disrupted at three major junctions of the city as Youth Force cadres fought pitched battles with the YCL.
The murders are reminiscent of the slaying of a local businessman Ram Hari Shrestha, who was abducted by the Maoists despite his proximity to them. Shrestha was beaten to death inside a UN-monitored camp of the Maoists’ guerrilla army after which his body was tossed in a river.
The Maoists at first denied they were behind the killing but had to admit to it after growing public pressure and outrage.
However, the People’s Liberation Army combatant responsible for Shrestha’s murder is still at large and there are allegations that he is being sheltered by the Maoist top brass.
The new murders show that the Maoist top leaders are losing their grip on the party ranks and files, who are running amok.
Maoist Prime Minister and chairman of the party Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ himself faces a growing challenge to his leadership Thursday when his party holds its national convention after over a decade to decide the future policies of the party.
The murders also raise fresh doubts about the former guerrilla party’s intention and ability to return to non-violent mainstream politics.