Nationwide CPN strike ends with fake bombs and arrests

- NAYAK PAUDEL, Kathmandu

Aug 15, 2018-

A nationwide strike called by the Netra Bikram Chand-led Communist Party of Nepal led to sparse violence in parts of the country on Tuesday, including explosions in some cities, while public transportation and businesses operated normally within the Capital after late morning.

The CPN had called for a Nepal banda on Tuesday following the arrest of its cadres, including party Spokesman Khadga Bahadur Bishwa-karma, last week on extortion and election violence charges.

The explosions and different IED incidents at several places were the major reason that forced educational institutes, offices and shops to shut down.

Signs of unrest began ahead of the strike on Monday night after a pressure-cooker bomb detonated inside a public toilet at the Ex-Indian Army’s Pension Paying Camp in the western city of Butwal. Schools, offices, and shops remained shut on Tuesday in other cities after security officials discovered undetonated improvised explosive devices. Sightings of IEDs were also reported in Lokanthali, Suryabinayak, Naikap, Nayapati area of the Valley, which were handled by the Army’s bomb disposal team.

“The bomb at the India Army camp appears to have targeted vehicles that were parked nearby,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Keshav Bhattarai in Butwal. A similar kind of bomb was placed in the camp three months ago when the Chand-led group announced a general strike protesting against the government’s deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Security officials said some of the suspicious devices were masked to appear as IEDs to simply spread fear. The Bharatpur Metropolitan City had a thermos taped with stray wires that weren’t connected to anything. A handful of CPN cadres pretended to explode bombs by lighting firecrackers in Gauradaha and Arjundhara municipalities of Jhapa.

Although sparse violence occurred throughout the country, public vehicles were running on normal schedule while long-distance bus services were escorted by security officials.

“The opening of shops and vehicles on the road has shown that people are against the shutdown,” said SSP Shailesh Thapa. Although the police had deployed officers from early morning, some vehicles were attacked by small groups of people who tried to enforce the strike.

In Rupandehi, agitators hurled a bottle of acid at a bus, injuring a passenger. A bus carrying passengers to Kathmandu was set on fire in Hetauda. Elsewhere, an unidentified group lobbed a Molotov cocktail at a truck while it was being escorted by security officials through the Banbasa forest in Kapilvastu. Two parked trucks were also set ablaze in Nawalpur.

A number of educational institutions were shut across the country fearing attacks. Schools have always been the major target of the CPN sympathizers. On Tuesday, Shyam Pakhrin, a CPN cadre, was arrested while he was issuing threats to schools in Dolakha.

“Even if the school gets shut down for a single day, it will affect our study,” said Roju Poudel, a student at Reliance International Academy in Kathmandu. “If these kinds of strike occur four to five times a year, it will hamper our abilities to take exams.”

Although the government has declared educational institutes as no-protest zones, banda enforcers have repeatedly tried to use tactics to force schools to shut down.

“If the educational institutes ask for security to run classes, we will provide it,” SSP Thapa told the Post. According to Nepal Police, 26 cadres of Chand party were arrested by the end of the day around the country.

(Provincial correspondents contributed reporting)

Published: 15-08-2018 07:06

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