The Nepal Digest - July 27, 1994 (12 Shrawan 2051 BkSm)

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The Nepal Digest Saturday 27 July 94: Shrawan 12 2051 BkSm Volume 29 Issue 4

Today's Topics:

        Topics not printed due to time constraints.

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********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 18 Jul 94 10:37:34 -0700 From: (Bijaya Ojha) To:

Mr. Editor,

        I want to add to the recent editorials that Mr. Pramod K. Mishra has written to you regarding the status of women in Hinduism. As a Nepali Hindu woman (a claim which an elder questioned because I am not yet married -- 'girl' was suggested the more appropriate title), I believe that I have a responsibility to ensure that the dialog on this topic continues. I will speak for myself but think that the words I have to say are words that many other women would like to say as well.
        I write with anger in my heart toward the customs, the rituals, and the people who ask me to give up my goals and dreams to submissively hand my future to a total stranger for no other reason than he is Nepali and belongs to a certain caste.
        I will not!
        If I am to be treated like property, then let me show you how the advertisement for my sale would read:
        I come without dowry. If my parents insist on paying to get rid of me, I won't marry. If that means that Nepali men from a certain caste (or their parents) won't accept me, then I'm too good for them. I don't guarantee children within a few years of marriage
-- I'm more interested in establishing a foundation for my dreams at the moment than raising a family. I hate working in the kitchen so I won't provide my husband's every hot meal. I won't be a washing machine, a cooking machine, a cleaning machine, a sex machine, a status machine. I'm not and will never be property. The course of my life with my husband will be as unpredictable as that of a raging river's to the sea.
        My college education is not the means to an end of being chosen for marriage over a younger, fairer maiden!
        Let me address the entire Nepali and Hindu community and culture now:
        Would you rather that my thinking capacities were limited only to how to become a good mother and wife? Would you rather believe that God gave women their days under the sun only to always think of others and never themselves? Would you rather see a Nepali girl who grew up in the West and found herself a Western boyfriend as someone branded for life, but a Nepali boy who chose a Western girlfriend as merely having fun until he found a nice, submissive, obedient Nepali girl? Would you rather I keep quiet about everything that bothers me about my culture because it is not the woman's place to raise her voice?
        When I go to Nepali functions, the question I encounter most is 'When are you getting married?' I haven't yet learned to answer creatively and usually respond with 'I don't know.' But this is what I'd like to say: 'It's none of your business and who are you to tell me when and who I should marry?'
        Some may argue that I'm being disrespectful and that the people who question me are concerned with my future. I see right through that logic. If they were concerned for me, wouldn't they insist that I'm worth the best that life has to offer me? Wouldn't they acknowledge my dreams and aspirations? Wouldn't they address my questions regarding what would happen if my husband turned out to be a monster, by saying something other than 'That won't happen'? If people were concerned for me, then why must I guard my every action lest it become fodder for the gossip mill?
        There's theory and there's practice in every religion. The theory in Hinduism is that a woman commands respect -- she is Shakti. Woman and man complement one another -- each only a half without the other to make a whole. Shakti and Shiva. Laxmi and Narayan. Radha and Krishna. But the practice in Hinduism remains, in Valmiky's words: "The drums, the ignorant men, the untouchables, the animals, and the women deserve regular beating."
        I don't think so!

Bijaya Ojha <>

********************************************************************** Date: Sat, 16 Jul 1994 23:58:35 -0400 From: (Rajendra P. Shrestha) To: Subject: Budget for FY 1994/95 passed by royal decree

Source: AFP, July 15 (paraphrased) Headline: Budget for FY 1994/95 passed Dateline: Kathmandu, July 15

   The caretaker government of prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala announced the budget for 1994/95 fiscal year on Friday. The budget was passed by a royal ordinance because the parliament was dissolved on Monday.

   The Finance Ministry announced its 39.91 billion rupee (80.5 million U.S. dollar) budget at a meeting of the national planning commission.

   In what has been considered as a political budget, the government has exempted 90 percent of farmers in mountaineous areas and smallholders from land taxes. Hotel taxes have also been reduced.

   The government plans to receive 22.3 billion rupees from land, income, tourist taxes,and customs duties and other sources.

   Nearly half of the development spending will be covered through foreign loans, a fifth by spending cuts, 9 percent through internal loans and 21 percent through foreign grants.

   Out of the total 39.91 billion rupee budget, 18.76 billion rupees are set for police and army, as well as civil servant salaries.

   The remaining 21.14 billion rupees have been earmarked for development.

Source: Xinhua Headline: Nepali Congress General Secretary Lambasts PM Koirala Dateline: Kathmandu, July 15

   The General Secretary of the ruling Nepali Congress, Mahendra Narayan Nidhi, lambasted prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala for mid-term poll, according to an interview published in the "Kathmandu Post".

   Nidhi said that the announcement of mid-term poll was "pre-planned" and that the caretaker prime minister and palace were involved in a
"conspiracy". Nidhi was critical of the caretaker government led by Koirala to oversee the mid-term poll, terming it "undemocratic and immoral". The Nepali Congress General Secretary added that Koirala lost majority in the house of representatives and therefore has no right to be the prime minister. He pointed out that the only way out of the present political stalemate was to let the Nepali Congress form a new government.

   Nidhi also urged his party to support the Communist Party of Nepal
(UML) in its bid to oust Koirala. "If the CPN(UML) agitation fails, the Nepali Congress should boycott the mid-term poll," said Nidhi. The Nepali Congress General Secretary's open position against mid-term poll is seen as a major victory for Ganesh Man Singh and the party president Krishna Prasad Bhattarai.

   Meanwhile, chairman of the national assembly (upper house), Beni Bahadur Karki, also raised doubts about the mid-term poll. Speaking on radio Nepal Thursday, he said that he felt there was a deep conspiracy behind the dissolution of the house of representatives.

   Meanwhile, prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala has been receiving support from Nepali Congress party workers in various districts, according to the official news agency RSS reports. These include the district committees of Kavre, Nawalparasi, Okhaldhunga and other districts. They have also called for convening the general council as early as possible. The Nepali Congress general council, slated for June 22, was postponed due to Ganesh Man Singh's illness. Nepali Congress party workers held rallies in many municipalities and districts in support of Koirala.

********************************************************************** From: Rajendra Shrestha Subject: Saturday's News To: Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 15:14:53 -0400 (EDT)

Source: Agence France Presse, July 16 Headline: Demonstrations against Nepalese king, PM gaining momentum in Nepal Dateline: Kathmandu, July 16

   Anti-monarchist demonstrations took to the streets of Kathmandu Saturday, denouncing the King's dissolution of parliament and calling for the Prime Minister's immediate removal.

   The United People's Front (UPF) activists and other communist supporters expressed anger over King Birendra's decision last Monday to dissolve the Nepalese house of representatives and call November elections.

   The anti-monarchist sentiment is slowly spreading throughout this Himalayan kingdom, the Nepal Communist Party-United Marxist and Leninist (NCP-UML) Central Party Secretary Pradip Nepal said in a statement Saturday.

   The communists claim that Koirala has already lost the crucial vote and no longer has the right to advise the king on his
"unconstitutional" decision to dissolve the lower house. The protesters also called the caretaker government unacceptable and pressed for an all-party interim government to conduct the polls fairly and freely.

   Koirala has been criticized by his own Nepali Congress (NC) MPs, as well as opposition members for his failure to tackle inflation, control administrative corruption, or maintain law and order.

   He has also been accused of using his influence over the appointment of a foreign company as the Royal Nepal Airline's general sales agency, an accusation he denies.

   The NCP-UML on Thursday handed King Birendra a five-day ultimatum threatening to launch a massive agitation campaign across the country if Koirala is not dismissed.

   The communists have threatened to stage a one-day general strike on July 20 to be quickly followed by a three-day strike.

Source: Xinhua Headline: Nepali Congress to solve internal crisis Dateline: Kathmandu, July 16

   The Nepali Congress will hold its central working committee meeting on July 18 to solve its internal crisis. It is expected that the central working committee meeting will take a crucial decision on the future of the Nepali Congress and hold extensive deliberations on the topical political issues. The prime minister lobby will reportedly table a proposal at the meeting to demand the meeting take action against the 36 dissident former Nepali Congress lawmakers while the majority of the central working committee members, who support president Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, will demand that prime minister Koirala including his supporters be removed from the party.

   On Friday, Prime Minister Koirala and Nepali Congress president Bhattarai had talks on the party unity and conciliation. But no particular results is available up to now. The internal crisis within the Nepali Congress was intensified after the dissolution of the house of representatives and the appointment of Koirala as carataker prime minister.



Source: UPI Headline: Nepal's leftist parties to launch joint protest Dateline: Kathmandu, July 16

   Six leftist parties announced Saturday a common program to oust the caretaker government of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and form a coalition government. Protests will begin Monday with demonstrations in the 75 administrative headquarters nationwide, the protesters said. Representatives of the six-party alliance of communists told reporters the first phase of the demonstrations will include a three-day nationwide general strike beginning Sunday July 24. "The six leftist parties have reached a clear understanding that a free and fair election cannot be held under Koirala," Madhav Nepal, general secretary of the Nepal Communist Party (UML) told reporters. King Birendra, Nepal said, "did not act according to the Constitution and did not exhaust parliamentary exercises" while appointing Girija Prasad Koirala caretaker government. Koirala resigned Sunday when 36 rebels in his Nepali Congress party helped defeat a government program in parliament that led to Koirala's resignation.

   King Birendra dissolved Parliament on Koirala's recommendation, called snap elections almost two years ahead of schedule and appointed Koirala to hold the snap polls. "We will talk only with the king. We cannot talk to Koirala (because) his government is unconstitutional," Nirmal Lama of the Samyukta Jana Morcha, another party of the alliance, said. The six communist factions are the UML, the Unity Centre, the Nepal Communist League, the Workers and Peasants Party, the United People's Front and the Communist Party of Nepal (Mashal).

   While the communists have now joined forces against Koirala, inside Nepali Congress party the chasm deepened with demands for Koirala's expulsion from the party for calling snap polls without consulting the party leadership. Koirala retaliated by demanding the expulstion of 36 rebel parliamentarians who abstained in a crucial parliament vote that forced his resignation.

**************************************************************** Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 11:17:15 +0700 (GMT+0700) From: Leader Shreshta <> Subject: NPNIC-DOM For your information To: nepal <>

I came to know about Nepal Network Information Center (NPNIC-DOM) through APNIC admin. The Nepal NIC has not yet been established. APNIC has reserved the names of national NICs in the AP region until the time that the national NICs are established and can receive the DNS delegation. Once NPNIC-DOM starts every one of us will have access to hosts at NEPAL directly. Do any one in the net has idea when will APNIC start ?

L. Shrestha AIT

***************************************************************** Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 17:43:15 +1000 From: Subas Bastola <> To: Subject: Re: Top 10 Greats of Nepal

Dear netters

Remember me? I had earlier posted an article relating to my choice of top 10 great Nepalese of this twentieth century.I had also asked you to send me your invaluable comments. Well I could not be disappointed,the response was fantastic. To recap, my choices were

1. King Mahendra 2. Gaje Ghale (symbolically representing the Gurkha soldiers) 3. Chandra Shumsher 4. B.P. Koirala 5. Laxmi Prasad Devkota 6. Subarna Shumsher 7. Tenzing Sherpa 8. Madan Bhandari 9. Narayan Gopal 10.Surya Bahadur Thapa

And how were they selected? They were chosen and ranked according to the impact they made in Nepalese society, no matter good or bad. To elaborate on this criterion, we should definitely include Hitler and Mao Tse Tung in a list of greats of the world in this century.

Why I am using this criterion rather than "morally greats"? Because the list then would be: 1) Subjective: Some people regard Mao as a cruel dictator and giant killing machine. At the same time other regard him as a humane,honest and the God of the oppressed, who sometimes had to resort to violence for the benefit of the people. 2) Discriminatory: If you deeply look into every human being he would be
"great". How can you say that a poor farmer toiling his sweat and blood in the paddy field is not "great" when he is most honest and caring. At least he is working to feed others.

Returning to the response, it was overwhelming. I received around twenty five responses from all over the world. Most them were Nepalese but some people from non-Nepalese origin also participated.

The important points are:

1) Almost all of them reacted strongly for excluding Supremo G.M. Singh. Although they did not forget to mention that the Supremo has behaved little bit of erratically in last few years, they all believed that he has contributed a lot in all of the three main peoples movement that happened in this century. This shows that he still commands respect in our society and must be included in our list. Mind you I deliberately excluded him from the list to find where does he stands in the minds of Nepalese people. Actually he takes the place of Madan Bhandari.

2) Almost half of the respondents did not want Surya Bahadur Thapa in the list. I think some were confused about the list as a list of "moral greats".

3) Tenzing Sherpa - Issue was raised regarding his nationality. This is a controversial topic. I just wonder if Neil Armstrong took the citizenship of Mongolia tomorrow would American regard him as an alien.

4) A good favorite was Parijat.

5) I was accused of being too much interested in political figures. I don't know but I have infact tried to be less favorable to the politicians.

6) Some suggestions were:

Prem Bahadur Kansakar Chittadhar Hridaya Gehendra Shumsher Shankardev Pant Amritman Pradhan S. B. Dhaubadel ( a Nepalese scientist, supposedly the founder of Dhaubadel acid) Four Martyrs (Gangalal,...) Shiva Shrestha

Well, thank you all of you for your suggestions.

Lastly a lot of respondents believed that it would be a great project to compilethe list according the votes of the netters. In fact I also belive that this is not a useless mental exercise, rather it gives us a rare opporunity to judge our leaders. By voting it would give some objectivity( otherwise the list may be regarded as subjective one).

Therefore I just wonder if we would like to cast our vote on this topic when our beloved bretherens would be casting their votes in the mid-term poll.

If you would like to participate in this project "Top 10 Great" please send the names of your choosen personalities and their ranking. I am ready to volunteer as a statistician and I would provide you with the result of your votes.

ITS VOTING TIME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! CAST YOUR VOTE FOR TOP 10 GREAT NEPALESE OF THIS CENTURY

If your chosen personality is less known in Nepal please give some info on him or her.

Send your votes to NEPAL@CS.NIU.EDU


Jay Nepal Subas Bastola Melbourne Australia.

********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 14:53 EST From: To:

Eight Years of Girija?

Will girija rule for eight years?

Three years as head of a congress government and 5 years as head of the Congress (Koirala faction) and National Democratic Party (Panche party) coalition with Sadbhavana Party?

This is what Koirala thinks he can do.

This is what all his political opponents in Communist parties and Congress party think he can do. That is why all of them are against the midtermn elections and why some of them are threatening to launch nation-wide strikes for his removal.

What is the reason for this image of invincibility for Girija?

There are actually several:

1. Girija will have control of the government machinery and resources and in a poor country with poor political parties, the party faction with government coffers to reach into for money and powers has all the powers sof the incumbent. For instance, during the Congress general counsel meeting of elected local government leaders of Congress in Pokhara, Girija used the government machinery of Chief district Officers and faxes and vehicles to round up his supporters to show down krishna Prasad. For the elections, he will have the powerful security agencies: the military and police to intimidate and downright suppress his opponenent in the name of law and order, peace and security.

2. Girija has the support of the King. This has been his long time politics. Indeed he was against the launching of the 1989 revolution that paved the way to his power. The panchas have always been dearer to him than the communists. In power, he has protected the king's wishes by promoting police officers accused of suppressing democracy, releasing Dhirendra' body guard, Bharat Gurung, and generally pleasing the Royals when Krishna Prasad revealed that he stood up to the Palace's threats druing the drafting of the congress. In return, the King obviously trusts Girija much more than any leaders around. And the King still commands a lot of resources both money, goodwill, support of the Army and the residual constitutional powers.

3. Regional politics also seem to favour Girija at least for the time being. Girija has the strong family support of janata Dal Leader and former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, who is romantically linked to Shailaza Acharya, the relative of Girija and a prime ministerial candidate in her own right (according to local papers). In India, narasimha Rao government is coming on strong and for him to consolidate his majority, Chandra Shekhar has been supplying janata dal defectors and tacit support to him. Nepali PM seat is small price for narasimha Rao to pay to consolidate the stakes of a strong Congress I government with janata dal support from Chandra Shekhar.

4. Nationally, girija has all the support he needs from the West namely USA and the capitalist institutions. In strategic terms, Girija is keeping US very happy by playing the Tibet card of promoting and inciting "Free Tibet" movement of Tibetans in Kathmandu, permitting Taiwanese to come to Nepal and generally allowing US to irk and irritate China with a human right prick to extract trade benefits and now behind the scenes influence on recalcitrant North Korean nuclear program. He is also keeping the Western capitalist happy by abandoning the congress plank of "democratic socialism" and embracing whole-hog capitalism with liberalization, private sector ownership, and taking huge loans from World Bank for massive projects such as Arun III and reducing subsidies for electricity, oil, and food crops and giving Nepali janata a royal dose ofhyper-inflation.

5. Another thing going for Girija is the history of strong family rule from damodar Pandey and bhimsen Thapa to Jung Bahadur Rana. Family politics is historically more effective and long lasting than democratic party politics. That is why when congress, the huge power won power, girija did not find many fellow congressis to trust to run this governemnt, he had tos scour his relatives for key cabinet slots, and ministerial advisorships, and ambassadors. Already, 3 of the Koirala brothers have become prime ministers and he has the "Killing instinct" which the sage Krishna Prasad doies not seem to have. Girija is tenacious and can play political hardball with this opponents.

Of course, conventional political wisdome can go wrong and that is one reasons why watching politics is so entertaining at times.

One of the things that could go wrong is the way girija is playing the China and the India card and American card.

Indian foreign policy is already unhappy at the eagerness with which Girija is aligning his foreign policy with the US interests over Indian and Chinese interests. India and China are both building up rapport and see a foreseeable strategic common interests in ganging up together against the US and japan both economically and militarily and politically. Both India and China consdier themselves super power in their own rights and have long been resentful of US constraining their regional dominance. India has been trying to play down the tibet card to be friendsly with China ; recently, India disallowed the use of Indian airlines to carry international delegates to a tibetan government-in-exile conference in Dharamshala. India has also assured the Chinese that they will not allow Tibetan young hot-heads from violently seeking to overthrow the Chinese and has exerted on Dalai Lama to issue a statement that he will resign if this happens.

Not that US cares for Tibet, commerceis always over human rights as is eveident from Clinton's renewal of the most-favoured nation status to China despite poor improvement in human rights. But US does want a beating stick to get some concessions from China.

It is a tricky game, on one hand US does want the tremendous markets offered by both INdia and China (2 billion people right there) and is more than happy that they are lunging ahead in liberalization of economy. US also does not want unmanageable "ethnic" issues stopping the march of capitalism so it is quite happy with India, China, and nepal handle these problems with firmness and a little leeway once in a while.

India is obviously unhappy that Koirala could not deliver the Tanakpur and is cozying up with US over India. They feel, krishna and Ganesh Man are cognizant of their iinterests. Remember Ganesh Man asking for 2/3 of the seats in the parliament so he can ratify water accords through the Parliament constitutinally and Krishna Prasad declaring publicly that he is pro-Indian? But currently it's big national interests are more efficiently served with consolidationof the Rao government so let Girija rule.

Amulya Tuladhar clark university usa

********************************************************************** Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 21:59:57 -0700 (MST) From: LITTLE@NAUVAX.UCC.NAU.EDU Subject: Digest Contribution To:

>Dear Editor, These are my feelings regarding the series on Women in Hinduism. I
>do not mind sharing them if you find it appropriate. U.K. Little
>>Response to the series "Women in Hinduism:"
>>"Women in Hinduism" is a remarkably well written series which successfully points out issues that are deeply rooted in our consciousness. However, I doubt that all Hindu women of the world would agree with Mr. Mishra's interpretation and may not take their tradition roles as negatively as it is described.
>>Many Hindu women cherish their traditional roles and apply them positively to their advantage. Traditional Hindu women are well recognized in their societies for having positive influence, providing moral support, feeling secure, visionary thinking, patience, compassion, and so on. Because of these qualities, even today Hindu women's role play very subtle but quite powerful influence in both domestic and professional circumstances.
>>Therefore, many positive aspects of Hindu women's roles must not be disregarded instead they should be preserved. It has been said that changes are inevitable.
>>What do Hindu women want for change: more power, fairness, does not want to cook and clean, wants equal property rights, do not want arrange marrige, want equal educational or economical opportunities, more freedom from husband, control of family finances, more attention and recognition of who she is, be able to work ten hours a day, come to America for a PHD and so on? What women want and which Hindu roles has been the obstacle to word achieving those goals must be carefully examined before seeking new changes. Women also must take the responsibility of developing new set of roles not only suitable for the present but the possible impacts that may emerge in next generation.
>>How women are going to develop a new set of roles ? What models are they going to follow? The roles of women in a Anglo-European society are definitely not convincing viewing their deteriorating social structure and discriminative, abusive, and suffering condition of women in the Unites States.
>>Looking at a Matriarchal culture, a traditional Navajo woman's roles we find as follows:
>>The Navajo Matriarchal culture exists among 300,000 Navajos occupying one of the largest Indian reservations (25,000 square miles) in Northern Arizona and small portions of Utah and New Mexico. Navajos are the people who migrated from Mongolia across the Bering sea to Alaska during the ice age. A traditional Navajo woman shares her concerns of her culture as it is loosing the language, history and self-identity.
>>She is the one who teaches language, culture, and religion to the young generation and practices what she believes.
>>She prepares food for the preservation of life. She feeds hungry people to give strength and the life sources.
>>She makes a child happy giving hope to their life.
>>She takes care of water. Water which is essential for life. Keeps water pure and untouched by harmful substances.
>>Give instruction about plants. Plants are the source of life which she teaches to the young people. She teaches about plant food and medicine
>>Women give birth to new life and accept circle of life. Women see her shadow through her children. Her children are happy and healthy that means she is happy. Her children are the shadow of herself, her life and what she believes.
>>She feels rich and contends through her knowledge, experiences and devotion by making others feel happy, she provides strength, confident, and hope to human life. Changing Seasons as circle of life Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
>>Season to a Navajo woman represents birth, gaining maturity, growth, harvest, fulfillment, resourceful, rest and completion.
>>Although, above roles reflect traditional hunting and gathering Navajo culture but the last 200 years of Anglo-European efforts on assimilating Navajo culture in to the dominant white society have not been successful. The Navajo people have been able to retain their ancestry land, language, culture, and traditions intact until recent. Today, elders, educators, and policy makers are struggling to keep the Navajo identity from further change.
>>Before, we adapt any new roles let's not ignored the meaning behind traditional roles.

********************************************************************** Date: Wed, 20 Jul 1994 00:27:05 -0400 To: From: (Rajendra P. Shrestha) Subject: Congress meeting postponed indefinitely

Source: Agence France Presse Headline: Nepalese Prime Minister attempts reconciliation with dissidents Dateline: Kathmandu, July 18

   A meeting of the Nepali Congress central committee scheduled for Monday was postponed indefinitely in a bid to reconcile the country's beleagured prime minister and dissident members.

   Chiranjibi Wagle, a spokesman for 36 dissident former Nepali Congress MPs, said the postponement was an attempt to agree with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala a way of contesting election in November.

   The two sides will also seek to find ways of confronting a protest movement jointly organized by six left wing factions.

   The leftist groups plan a strike on July 20, followed by a 3-day successive general strikes. The action is expected to hamper tourism and national activity.

   A Koirala supporter told AFP the prime minister fears he may be expelled from the Nepali Congress for advising the king to order elections.

   At least two-thirds of the 27 central committee members, and the Nepali Congress's top leader Ganesh Man Singh, want tough action against Koirala, which could include expulsion.

   [Xinhua reports that PM Koirala told the weekly "Suruchi" that the decision to recommend new elections was made by the cabinet, and was not just his personal decision. After the cabinet meeting, informal discussions were held on the matter in the presence of party president Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and all ministers, he said. "I had told the party president that I would resign, dissolve the house of representatives and recommend snap polls," he clarified. The PM also reassured that "the Nepali Congress will not split." ]

Subject: 8 injured by police in demonstrations To:

Headline: 8 protestors injured in protests in Kathmandu Dateline: Kathmandu, July 20

         KATMANDU, Nepal (Reuter) - Nepali riot police firing tear gas charged a huge anti-government demonstration near Katmandu's royal palace Wednesday, injuring at least eight left-wing protesters, government officials said.
         The demonstration took place as schools, factories and businesses closed across the Himalayan kingdom in response to an opposition call for a general strike.
         Police detained 268 of some 20,000 people who had gathered near the palace to demand the resignation of Nepal's caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala ahead of elections scheduled for November 13.
         ``We hope the leaders leading the crowd will not allow the situation to get out of hand,'' Home Ministry spokesman Shree Kanta Regmi said.
         He said 25 vehicles were damaged in skirmishes between the demonstrators and police.
         A senior police official, who asked not to be named, said earlier that riot police had been deployed in large numbers in the area and the situation was tense.
         Witnesses said the crowd chanted slogans against Koirala and against King Birendra, who had asked him to stay on as caretaker prime minister.
         The police official said there had been scattered minor incidents around Katmandu throughout the day and at least seven buses had been stoned in the capital.
         Violence often accompanies strikes in Nepal and police said some 500 people described as potential trouble makers had been detained on the eve of the strike.
         There were no reports of major clashes between police and protesters elsewhere in Nepal.

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