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  • Shades of 1975: Nepal Roundup

    by Rohin
    22nd January, 2006 at 2:50 am    

    Just a brief summary of the events that have brought Nepal back into the world headlines, much to the embarrassment of many Nepalis.

    Almost a year ago, King Gyanendra seized absolute power in Nepal, suspending civil liberties and sacking the government. You may recall that Gyanendra only came to power when the King and Queen were slain along with several others, by their own son. Since last February, the country has been steadily degenerating, but Maoist rebels have been growing in power for several years now. An estimated 12,000 have died in the last decade - a result of the Maoists campaign for a communist state. The rebels abandoned a four month unilateral truce earlier this year. Civil war.

    This week street protests have boiled over into violence, with the police using tear gas against pro-democracy and anti-monarchy campaigners, who they insisted had been infiltrated by Maoists - a claim denied by the protestors. Placards carried slogans such as “Down with autocracy, we want democracy”. Many were arrested. A dusk-till-dawn curfew is in force all over Kathmandu; it’s been described as a ghost city.

    The republican movement also enjoys new support in Nepal, somewhat galvanised by the King’s autocratic behaviour. But as long as he commands power over the police and army, the rebels are the only real opposition to the King’s rule. Last year Gyanendra even created his own government anti-Maoist militia. The average Nepali is divided between unquestioning support for the King and wanting to see an end to the monarchy. Most are tired of the political fighting, with the monarchy, opposition parties and Maoists all enjoying reputations of being untrustworthy and corrupt.

    Just last week, over 100,000 people marched against the King in a provincial south-eastern town. The curfew has been very effective in stifling large-scale activity in the capital. In fact it has brought the city to a standstill. Most phone lines remain down and hundreds of people have been held without charge. South Asia casts its mind back to Indira Gandhi’s state of emergency (’75-’77).

    Nepal currently has one of the worst rates of people disappearing in the world, the state of humans rights is woeful. The Seven-Party (opposition) alliance has just called for a nationwide general strike on January 26th.

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    Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics,South Asia,The World

    18 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Dynesh — on 22nd January, 2006 at 4:07 am  

      It appears that the Nepalese are stuck between the devil and the deep sea. I think India is taking the wrong approach. By not reproaching the King enough and also supporting the rebels, we’re trying to play both sides. This is silly. I think the situation demands action, certainly some form of political sanctions, atleast. India has to take the initiative since Nepal’s economy relies a lot on India. I’m not suggesting we ‘blackmail’ them into democracy, but I’m not saying that it shouldnt be done either. Military intervention is a last resort; then again, the situation doesnt seem to be getting any better.

    2. Bikhair — on 22nd January, 2006 at 4:32 am  

      Nepalese women are hardcore mushriks most of them, but they are so pretty.

    3. Nisha — on 22nd January, 2006 at 8:12 am  

      I’m curious. What exactly is India’s take on this? Information would be appreciated.

    4. Jay Singh — on 22nd January, 2006 at 10:00 am  

      Military action? I have to say Dynesh that is just a ridiculous suggestion.

      Whatever India should do should be in accordance with what is right for the people of Nepal as mandated by the most democratic representatives in Kathmandu. Whatever they say should be at the forefront of India’s policy and it should be with bearing in mind the adage that democracies in the region are in the best interest of India.

    5. Jay Singh — on 22nd January, 2006 at 10:25 am  

      Good article on Nepal from June 2005 by that EXCELLENT writer Pankaj Mishra

    6. Nisha — on 22nd January, 2006 at 11:53 am  

      Thanks, Jay. Reading it now.

    7. raz — on 22nd January, 2006 at 12:00 pm  

      Looks like the violence is heating up:

    8. Jay Singh — on 22nd January, 2006 at 12:08 pm  

      I watched a documentary on the Prince of Nepal who shot dead his family - the guy was a gun freak. On the night he did it he was loaded up with cocaine and spliff and had an argument with his father, the King, over the woman he wanted to marry, who they objected to because she was a commoner. He went to his room, loaded up weapons, rifles, pistols, machine guns, snorted a few more lines of coke, went to the room where all his family were sitting, and blasted them all to death. Mother, Father, uncles, everyone. Then shot himself.

    9. Jay Singh — on 22nd January, 2006 at 12:10 pm  

      I can’t imagine Prince Charles doing that.

      Maybe Prince Edward if they hadnt let him marry Sophie.

      But not Charlie.

    10. Siddhartha — on 22nd January, 2006 at 12:31 pm  

      Frank Kaplan, right-wing journalist, US military evangalist and big time organ-grinder of the multinational ‘US Military War Machine Inc’ wrote a peice on Nepal, published in the WSJ, last month called ‘Who Lost Nepal‘. Suffice to say that he sees the crisis Nepal as a rerun of Cambodia in the mid 1970s and El Salvador in the 80s, where extreme left wing para-military militia threaten a weak right wing government. So guess what he’s proposing: freeze aid to Nepal and bring in the US troops and “take out” the Maoists. But then, thats to be expected from Kaplan. The Nepali diaspora have been sickened and shocked by the idiot’s cavalier statments. But I think they needn’t worry. With Iraq going pear-shaped, unless a region has direct links with Israeli “security” or threatens the interests of Saudi Oil or Oil in general, the US are going to sit it out. Meanwhile, Faruq Faisel’s blog is turning out to be an excellent resource on events in Kathmandu at the moment.

    11. Sunny — on 22nd January, 2006 at 1:27 pm  

      India seems almost afraid to say anything on the matter, which is absurd.

    12. Rohin — on 22nd January, 2006 at 1:33 pm  

      I think there’s a certain air of ‘not our problem’ in India.

    13. Soultrain — on 22nd January, 2006 at 3:26 pm  

      More a case of how India has enough problems to deal with inside its own country, rather than potentially setting itself up for the conflict in Nepal to spill across the border - which can easily happen by simply expressing condemnation.

    14. Vikrant — on 22nd January, 2006 at 6:25 pm  

      @Soultrain: The conflict has already “spilt over” to the Indian side. Nepalese commies have linked up with the Indian Maoist rebels thugs who stalk India’s impoverished hreartlands of Bihar, Chattisgarh,MP right upto snazzy janzzy IT city of Cyberabad. India is also a host to sizable Nepali population.

      @Rohin,Sunny: Methinks India is being a bit sensitive since any sign of interest in such matters is quickly interpreted as “neighbourhood-bully” behaviour by India’s insecure neighbours.

    15. Vikrant — on 22nd January, 2006 at 6:29 pm  

      @Jay Singh: Well i’m working on a 10000 word eassy:
      “Pankaj Mishra that Twaty wanker”

    16. Vikrant — on 22nd January, 2006 at 6:44 pm  

      Well i’ve been speaking with a few Gurkhas in me area. (i live darn close to Sandhurst ya know). They seem to be oddly supportive of King though…. queer indeed.

    17. Rohin — on 22nd January, 2006 at 9:59 pm  

      “If a man tells you he is not afraid of death, he is a liar or he is a Gurkha”

      - Gen. Sam Manekshaw

      Gurkhas will remain loyal to the end, it doesn’t surprise me they are loyal to the king. Remember the monarchy in Nepal has a special place in religious symbolism as well as simply a state figurehead.

    18. Dynesh — on 23rd January, 2006 at 1:38 am  

      Jay, I wasn’t actually advocating military intervention. But the fact is that India is not doing enough diplomatically. And our hands are tied because of the links of the marxist rebels to people in India. Military intervention - all right, I will say I dont support it, but I would not rule it out at a later date if the situation got much worse.

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