Janajati Nepal Banda: Royalists in Charge (and Other Headlines)

Any idea who is Shekhar Gurung? I am sure you do know him. He came to limelight when Gyanendra’s autocracy was in climax. Shekhar Gurung was appointed the Zonal administrator, a post created by the royal regime to strengthen the autocratic hold in the state of affairs, for Bagmati Zone. With the restoration of democracy in April, the likes of Shekhar Gurung went on hiding from public eyes. Not anymore. The agents of regression have made a comeback. Thanks to the pro-democratic, pro-republican Janajatis who provided him a forum today by organizing Nepal Banda, the general strike.

“I was coming to office this afternoon,” said Hari Bahadur Thapa, chief reporter at Kantipur daily. “Some people stopped me near Kupandole and one of them asked for my [press] identity card. I was shocked to see that the person who was demanding my identity was no other than Shekhar Gurung.” Shekhar Gurung inspected Thapa’s ID and told, “Ok, You are from the press. Go.”

I always thought royalists had infiltrated into the agitation in Terai and other parts,” Thapa said. “Today’s incident was yet another solid proof about the royalist involvement in destabilizing the democratic government. This is also a matter of shame for the organizers of today’s Banda that people like Shaker Gurung were openly active in the name of Janajati demands.”

Banda Update: Normal life across nation has been affected today due to Nepal Banda (shutdown) called by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NFIN) to pressurise the government to fulfill its 24-point demands. The bandh was organised demanding ethnic autonomy, federal system, linguistic freedom, proportional representation in the constituent assembly and guarantee of self determination, among others. NFIN, which held talks with the government on 26 Feb, refused to withdraw the bandh despite government requests. NFIN is scheduled to hold the second round of talks on Friday (2 March). (more here)

Developments of the Day:

Bhattarai on Monarchy: Kishna Prasad Bhattarai, a former Prime Minister and former Nepali Congress leader, arises from tumb (many had though that he wasn’t in this world anymore) to defend the ‘powerless monarchy’ in Nepal. We haven’t forgotten that panwalla Bhattarai used to defend the 1990 constitution until recently saying that the statue formulated by his government 17 years ago was “best in the world and there is no need to change a line in it.” Now he thinks going for republic will not be a good idea for the country. Bhattarai, who had returned from pilgrimage to Benaras, India, made those remarks talking to journalists in Bhairahawa this afternoon.

Koirala Health: “Has [Prime Minister] Girija [Prasad Koirala] died?” SMS with these words have been circulating among mobile users in Kathmandu since yesterday and people were tuning in to radios to be sure about the PM’s health situation. We heard that a foreign ambassador contacted to a foreign news agency’s Kathmandu office regarding the news compelling the reporters to make a call to family members of Koirala. “He is absolutely fine now and has shown a lot of signals of improvement,” the family source told a reporter. Then there was one minister who went on public to tell the public latest about Koirala. “I have just now met with him and he appeared fine,” Ramesh Lekhak was heard saying that in Radio Nepal today.

Prime Minister Concerned: Koirala is okay and he is concerned about Maoist arms, says a report. The Prime Minister, during his discussion with the government talks team with the Maoists, today expressed concern over the vast differences between the number of Maoist combatants and the arms registered. Koirala directed the team to make arrangements to declare the arms of the Maoists not registered with the UN as illegal. The UN had registered 30,852 Maoist PLA members and 3,428 arms.

Other headlines of the day

Govt-Maoist discuss interim govt, CA polls
CA election dates will be announced by Thursday: Prachanda