Maoists call indefinite education strike in Nepal


Kathmandu : Nepal’s Maoist students union Saturday called an indefinite shutdown of all schools, colleges and universities in the country, after the government ignored its ultimatum to free over 45 supporters arrested earlier this week.

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Saturday being a holiday, the effects of the strike were not felt immediately.

Himal Sharma, general secretary of the Maoist student union, said the indefinite education closure would continue till the government unconditionally freed the 51 activists arrested this week.

The Maoist supporters were arrested after they went on a rampage and clashed with a rival student union loyal to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala’s Nepali Congress party.

However, the rebel student union said it would not hinder the crucial school-leaving examination that started this month and would decide the fate of nearly 117,000 students.

The examination centres would be allowed to open and hold the tests, it said.

The crisis was triggered by clashes between Maoist students and Nepal Students Union Monday, leading to a partial transport shutdown called by the Maoists in Kathmandu Wednesday.

The situation worsened after Maoist supporters attacked an MP’s car during the closure, causing uproar in the Nepalese parliament.

With crucial elections scheduled for November, the fresh closure call underlines the growing discord between the guerrillas and the other parties in the ruling alliance.

Though Koirala is under tremendous pressure from the international community to improve the worsening security situation to ensure free and fair elections, the Maoists have been on the warpath in different parts of the country, giving rise to speculation that they want to prevent the election.

The rebels however deny the allegation and say their protests are intended to put pressure on the government into holding the polls, deferred once, in time.

The top members of the eight ruling parties are expected to hold a meeting Sunday, after a gap of almost two months, in a bid to defuse tensions and discuss strategies for the Nov 22 constituent assembly election.

On Friday, Nepal’s interim parliament cleared a bill for the formation of a Constituent Assembly court to arbitrate disputes arising during the polls.

The bill stipulates that the court would comprise three Supreme Court judges. However, indicating again the growing rift between the seven parties, the Maoists objected to the provision.

Writing a note of dissent, they said the panel, in order to be neutral, should include not just sitting judges but any person who is qualified and capable.