09/17/2007, 00.00
NEPAL
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Maoists shoot on a crowd during a Hindu festival

by Kalpit Parajuli
Dozens of wounded among the worshippers above all women, who were celebrating the feast of Teej. Some speak of local conflicts, but Maoist militants say it is a strategy to force government decisions. Fears grow that they want to return to the use of violence.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Dozens of people were injured, some seriously when Maoist guerrillas opened fire at a Hindu celebration in western Nepal on Saturday. The guerrillas, following a minor dispute with local authorities and mainly women celebrating Hindu Teej festival, attacked the gathering at Arunkhola in Nawalparasi district, some 300 kilometer west from Kathmandu. Two of the injured are in coma. 

Hata Maya Gurung says that “They attacked almost all they encountered on the way while brandishing their pistols". Surya Subba, 40, describes that," they put a pistol against my chest and beat me up”.

The Teej festival is dedicated to women who ask for a happy marriage, children and purify their bodies. For the first three days they were their best dressed and gather in ritual song and dance, often remaining together until midnight.  This is why there were mainly women at the festival, who fled when the aggressors opened fire.

Protesting the incident, the locals obstructed the transportation demanding removal of Maoist cantonment that the Maoists responsible are brought to justice and compensation to the injured. The transportation was resumed after the Maoists signed a contract to compensate 200 US dollars to each of the injured and not to threaten the locals any more. Maoist chairman Prachand alias Puspa Kamal Dahal dis-associated himself from events. He also said,” We will investigate the incident and if we find any mistake by our combatant we will take action against the culprit”.

It seems, however, that the combatants were protesting against the government which also includes Maoist ministers, in order to “pressure the government into declaring Nepal a Republic”, as the division commander, Pratiksha alias Prakash Thapa, speaking to the Asianews confirmed.

But concerns are on the increase that the Maoists, despite being part of the government, do not want to respect democratic methods, or the signed peace accord.

The UN office monitoring arms management in Nepal has strongly condemned the demonstration.

 

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