By Binaj Gurubacharya
The Associated Press
KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Vehicles were forced off the streets and shops closed in Nepal’s capital on Monday, June 15 by former communist rebels who called a general strike to protest the murder of one of their local leaders.
Activists of the Young Communist League, the youth wing of the ex-rebels who fought an armed revolt for 10 years, gathered at major intersections in Katmandu to enforce the strike.
Schools and colleges remained closed and markets were shut. Drivers kept their vehicles off the streets for fear of attacks by the strike organizers.
Police said at least three vehicles were vandalized by the protesters in Katmandu for defying the strike call.
A local leader of the communist league was found dead a few days earlier in Katmandu, and police are still unsure how he died or who was responsible.
The communists claim it was a murder by a rival group. They are demanding the authorities quickly arrest those involved.
The youth league of the ex-rebels — the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) — has been blamed for several violent attacks in the past. There have been repeated calls from rights groups to disband the Young Communist League.
U.S. officials have even set the disbanding of the youth league as one of the main conditions to removing the Maoists from its terrorist blacklist.
The Maoists gave up their armed revolt in 2006 to join a peace process. Since then they have joined mainstream politics, winning the most seats in last year’s parliamentary elections.
However, they have been blamed for several recent violent attacks. ♦