Monday, May 3, 2010
Report from Nepal: Day 2 of the General Strike by Mukti N. Kattel
May 3 is the 2nd day of the indefinite strike in Nepal. This report represents the developments until noon and is based mainly on the Maoist inclined Mirmire Radio FM (which, however, looks fair in reporting and the information has not contradicted with that from other FM radios).
The strike has brought the country to a halt on May 3 too. The movement of 60 important leaders of the leading ruling party that called for an immediate resignation by the prime minister to prevent the armed tussle between the government and the opposition (the Maoist party) has spread down to the local level at some places and may put a good pressure to the prime minister from within his own party.
The strike is not violent yet. Maoist leaders have continued to state that the Guandhian (i.e., non-violent) protest of people will be decisive to topple down the ractionary government to give room for peace and promulgation of peoples' constitution.The protesters are chanting slogans, singing, dancing, conducting mass meetings, eating and taking rest right on the street during the protest hours (early in the morning thru late in the evening). Health camps are also set on the street and locals are also providing food and drinking water. Diplomatic vehicles and emergency vehicles like ambulances are allowed to operate and stores are allowed to open from 6-8 pm.
The number of protesters has significantly increased today in most places. The general public, various celebrities/artists, businessmen, bureaucracy and the civil society people are in favor of the resignation of the prime minister and for the promulgation of a constitution to save the achievements of last peoples movement.
Most people have noticed the change in activities (like he conducted the meeting of the security council upon arrival and got approval for using millitary force to suppress the Maoist movement) and in the tone of the prime minister after he met the Indian Prime minister in Bhutan during the SAARC meeting on April 30. India has tightened security in the bordering areas and the SSB (border police force of India) is reported to be collecting info about the movement from nepalis living in the bordering areas and to be giving hard times to those Nepalis.
Maoists have, side by side, continued the talk with the government for negotiation. The current major issues of dispute are :
(1) the creation of a new army by merging the old army and the maoist army as per the Peace Agreement 2006 mediated by the United Nations; and
(2) the resignation of the prime minister to let Maoist, the larget party in the consituent assembly, form the government to lead the constitution writing process.
The goverment still looks stuburn and the far rightist group (the Nepali Congress) is still not coming to the front to allow further confrontations between the left groups (the ruling party CPN-UML and the oppositon party, the CPN Maoist). The protestors are warning the leadership not to compromise. The royalist groups look silent for now (but may be cooking something inside).
Just a breaking news: a section of the police (some police are in favor and some others are agsinst the Maoist movement) has captured some of the drinking water trucks at few places to keep the protestors thirsty or to provocate the protestors towards violence.
If this movement is successful, it will set another and even higher record of Gandhian struggle. However, most people think that it can burst into armed tussle at any time. Situation is critical. Maoists in Kathmandu are asking for creating public opinion for their movement internationally.