Nepal protest: Hindu vigilantes attack Maoists

Kathmandu: More than a dozen Maoist leaders were hurt and two vehicles torched along the Nepal-India border Thursday as Hindu vigilantes attacked Maoist protesters enforcing an indefinite closure and security forces joined the fray.

Dozens of young men, flourishing bamboo sticks and wearing red bandanas around their heads, said to be belonging to a Hindu religious organisation, the Vishwa Hindu Yuva Sangathan, bore down on Maoist supporters. They were shown ruthlessly demolishing a camp set up for the protesters in Birgunj, Nepal’s major industrial town in Parsa district, adjoining India’s Bihar district. 

According to preliminary reports, the young men were taking part in an anti-Maoist strike rally and trying to force shopkeepers into opening shops, closed since May 2, when they were opposed by Maoist protesters.

The group then attacked the Maoist protesters and ran amok, knocking down the tables set up to cook food for the protesters, throwing the food on the ground and carting away cooking gas cylinders and cooking oil. Some then used the oil to douse two cars belonging to two Maoist Members of Parliament and set them on fire. Kantipur Television, an independent television station, said security forces jumped into the fray, ruthlessly beating up the unarmed Maoist protesters, hitting more than a dozen, including women, on their heads. 

The town was tense with the local administration calling an emergency meeting amidst fears that curfew could be imposed. The Maoists have been claiming that the ruling parties had been hiring goons from India across the border to infiltrate their protests, which they say are peaceful. However, despite the claim, there has been sporadic violence nationwide with anti-Maoists protests beginning to erupt.

In the capital as well as outer districts, people, claiming not to be affiliated to any political parties, were marching in protest against the indefinite Maoist strike that entered the fifth day Thursday without any sign of letting up. On Wednesday, anti-strike protesters, led by the ruling party’s youth wing, Youth Force, clashed with Maoists in Bhaktapur city. Maoists said vigilantes fired during the scuffle and bullets were found in the area.

The Youth Force said a 20-year-old supporter was killed during another skirmish in Makwanpur district when he was hit by bricks, allegedly thrown by Maoist protesters.
Anti-Maoist protests were also reported in remote Parbat district after the former rebels reportedly attacked a member of the ruling Nepali Congress party in his own residence and beat up his family members, including his grandparents.