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Last Updated: Monday, 28 August 2006, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
Nepal mourns 'mother of protests'
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Chhaya Devi Parajuli
Help for Chhaya Devi Parajuli came too late
The death has been announced in Nepal of an 88-year-old woman who became a symbol of protests against King Gyanendra for nearly four years.

Chhaya Devi Parajuli's death, confirmed by her daughter, came five weeks after she was knocked over by a motorcycle.

Chhaya Devi Parajuli was a remarkably consistent and visible presence in street demonstrations here.

She was seen by opposition supporters as an icon in a country often thought to lack visionary political leaders.

'Not afraid'

After King Gyanendra first started sacking prime ministers in October 2002, Mrs Parajuli came to the capital from her home in eastern Nepal.

Nepal's King Gyanendra
King Gyanendra gave up absolute rule after weeks of unrest

She joined what became regular street protests, vowing not to return home until democracy was restored.

She was a tiny little old lady, often to be seen waving a flag or shouting slogans at the front of sit-ins and marches in all weathers.

A member of the Nepali Congress party, widowed for 30 years, she was arrested several dozen times and received head injuries during April's huge rallies which forced the king's retreat from direct rule.

She's reported to have said she wasn't afraid, and that she cared about her country and people, not herself.

The day after the monarch announced the restoration of parliament, Chhaya Devi Parajuli was feted on stage at a victory rally.

But after she was hit by a motorcycle last month, politicians were at first criticised for failing to help or to visit her.

Later the government awarded her compensation and started paying her treatment bill.

But this came too late and the 88-year-old campaigner died at the weekend after surgery on a fractured thigh.

Politicians of many parties have paide tribute to the woman some have dubbed the "mother of protests".

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