Car bomb blast in Kathmandu over derailed constitution


Kathmandu : A car bomb explosion ripped through a busy area in the heart of the Nepal capital Tuesday, 11 days after the country’s ruling parties failed to promulgate a new constitution and narrowly averted a dire constitutional crisis.

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Within hours of the explosion that left four people injured, a never-heard-of organisation, the Swatantra Nepal Dal, or Free Nepal Party, e-mailed a statement to the media, claiming responsibility. It said it was launching punitive action against Nepal’s major parties and the latter’s “paid” MPs for their failure to promulgate the much-awaited new constitution by May 28.

Eyewitnesses said a white Maruti car stopped near Ishan Emergency Hospital in Vasundhara in Kathmandu’s busy Maharajgunj area in the morning.

The passengers got out, saying they would be back soon.

Around 8 a.m., the car exploded and was engulfed in a blaze, mangling and charring it completely.

This is the first time in the turbulent history of Nepal – that has witnessed a 10-year armed insurgency including ambushes and attacks on army helicopters – that a car bomb was detonated.

Inspector Prabin Pokhrel told IANS that the team found a socket bomb and disposed it of and the area was declared to be out of danger.

The car belongs to a transport entrepreneur, Ram Bahadur Adhikari, who had bought it Monday.

Police have arrested the driver, Dipak Biswakarma, who was not inside the car when the explosion occurred, besides two more men.

Pokhrel said one of the two men was the owner of a shop in the same locality where the car had been taken to “pick up stuff”. The other man was his friend.

Police are investigating if the bombs could have been part of the “goods” picked up from the shop.

Within hours of the explosion, the Free Nepal Party sent an email to the media, saying it was an organisation based in Sindhuli district in southeast Nepal.

The statement, signed by four general secretaries, said the party would take action against the top politicians who “deprived the Nepali people, waiting for six decades to write their own constitution”.

It said a special team under the “commander” of the Kathmandu valley unit, identified only as Prahar (assault), had conducted the first test operation in Vasundhara.

It also said the top political parties’ decision to extend the tenure of parliament and the current government by one year was a ploy to hoodwink the people.

After the Maoist insurgents signed a peace agreement in 2006, it was hoped that the embattled Himalayan nation would finally see peace and stability in 2010 following the promulgation of the first constitution written by the people themselves.

However, the major parties, including the Maoists, frittered away two years fighting over power-sharing and hastily amended the constitutional deadline in a midnight drama last month, giving themselves one more year to complete the constitution.

But 11 days after the reprieve, little work has been done on the statute and the Maoists and the ruling parties still remain locked in a bitter power struggle.

The summer session of the extended house was to have started from Tuesday. But it was put off with the Maoists seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and threatening to oppose government policies.