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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 14:50 GMT
'500 arrested' in Nepal protest
Nepal student protester
Students held protests despite tight security
At least 500 people have been arrested in nationwide opposition protests in Nepal, organisers say.

They say around 350 protesters were detained in a peaceful protest in the southern town of Janakpur.

In the eastern town of Kakarbhitta, police baton charged and fired tear gas at protesters, arresting 12 people.

The protests have been organised by Nepal's five main parties as part of their campaign against the king's seizure of direct power last month.

Unfurling banners

A BBC correspondent in Kathmandu says that protests in the capital were mostly peaceful, although police arrested Bal Bahadur Rai - a former acting prime minister.

The anti-king protests will continue until the king restores democracy in the country
Arrested politician Hira Bahadur Singh

Another politician, Hira Bahadur Singh, from the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML) party, was also arrested in Kathmandu along with six protesters, the AFP news agency reported.

It said all were bundled into a police van after unfurling banners and chanting slogans against the king.

"The anti-king protests will continue until the king restores democracy in the country," Mr Singh told journalists.

Over a dozen activists, including a former Nepali Congress lawmaker, Gopal Koirala, were injured when police baton charged a demonstration in Kakarbhitta in the eastern district of Jhapa.

Our correspondent says that most of those people arrested around the country are political activists, and that so far relatively few members of the general public have taken part.

But correspondents say that the five-party opposition alliance is pleased that the level of violence has been kept low, and that the demonstrations are becoming better organised.

Scores of political activists were arrested in various parts of the country on Sunday for protesting in advance of the demonstrations, reports said.

The king assumed direct power last month after dismissing the government.

Sporadic protests

He said they had not done enough to tackle Nepal's Maoist insurgency.

Fundamental rights have since been curbed and politicians, rights activists and journalists have been detained.

The government deployed security forces for the banned protests, which coincided with a meeting on Monday of the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Nepal's King Gyanendra
The king says he acted as the government was not doing its job

The commission is expected to criticise King Gyanendra's seizure of power and his subsequent imposition of emergency rule and suspension of civil liberties.

In a separate development, the rebel leader, Prachanda, said the Maoists will allow parties opposed to the royal coup to conduct their activities without any restrictions in the areas under their influence.

But opposition parties have said they will not enter into any form of alliance with the Maoists until they give up violence.

Nearly 11,000 people have been killed in the 10 years since the Maoists began their fight to replace the country's constitutional monarchy.


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