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Restore multi-party democracy: India tells King

Written by: Staff

Kathmandu, Apr 20: India today conveyed to Nepal's King Gyanendra to hold genuine dialogue with constitutional forces and urgently restore multi-party democracy in the country to overcome the present crisis.

Dr Karan Singh, the Special Envoy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met the Nepal Monarch at his Nayaranhity Palace here, expressed India's readiness to support all efforts towards this end and emphasised that a lasting solution to the problems of Nepal had to be found by the people through a peaceful political process.

Dr Singh, who was joined by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, is likely to return later today.

The meeting between Dr Karan Singh and King Gyanendra took place even as massive protests continued across the country against the 'autocratic rule' of the monarch.

The government has imposed 18-hour curfew and issued shoot-at-sight orders.

Dr Karan Singh, who has ancestral links with the Nepalese Royal family and is the former Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, had yesterday, after his arrival from New Delhi, held talks with Nepali Congress President Girija Prasad Koirala, former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and General Secretary of CPN UML, Madhav Kumar Nepal.

''I have come to Nepal with a positive attitude. All sides and political parties should have a positive attitude,'' Dr Singh told journalists after the 45-minute meeting with Mr Koirala.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Secretary, who came here from Bhutan where he had gone to meet King Jigme Singhye Wangchuk, and Indian ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherjee met Chief of the Army staff General Pyar Jung Thapa.

The Indian embassy in the Nepalese capital said in a release that the meeting between the King and Dr Karan Singh took place in the backdrop of the current political developments in Nepal which have been a ''cause of deep concern'' for India and other members of the international community. Meanwhile, protests against the monarchy continued all over the capital and at least three demonstrators were killed and more than 100 injured when police opened fired at the protestors.

Thousands of protestors gathered in the streets of the Nepalese capital, defying curfew, to protest against the 'autocratic rule' of King Gyanendra.

According to Kantipur Television, more than one lakh protestors gathered outside the city limits at Kalanki, Chabahil and Satdobato.

Demonstrations are also being held in major parts of the city.

''At least one lakh people have gathered at Kalanki shouting anti-King slogans and are marching towards the Ring Road,'' Kantipur Television said, adding that more than five thousand people, who were coming from neighbouring districts, had been stopped at Thankot.

Another 10,000 people were marching towards areas along the Ring Road from Chabahil, Satdobato and other places. Police and the Royal Nepalese Army had been mobilised in the streets of the capital.

The political parties have said people would gather in areas along the Ring Road and march to the city centre. However, the government had imposed a ban on political rallies and protests within Ring Road limits and 200 metres outside as the pro-democracy movement gained momentum during the last few days. The pro-democracy seven-party alliance in Nepal had warned that it would defy the 18-hour-long curfew imposed in the valley.

The government has imposed curfew in Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and in the capital from 0002 hrs to 2000 hrs (local time) to thwart demonstrations by the political parties which are being supported by people from all walks of life.

People would defy the curfew, leader of the CPN, UML Ishwor Pokharel said.

''To protest peacefully is the fundamental and natural right of the people,'' said Krishna Prasad Sitaula, a senior leader of the Nepali Congress.

''The ban and curfew orders are undemocratic and unconstitutional. We will disobey and will hold our peaceful protest programme.'' The demonstrators have been demanding the end of monarchy and have warned the leaders not to hold talks with the king and make any compromise.

The seven party alliance has said the return of the people's sovereignty, revival of the House and the Constituent Assembly election are the minimum demands.

General Secretary of the CPN, UML Madhav Kumar Nepal and General Secretary of the Nepali Congress, Ram Chandra Paudyal, who were released yesterday, said the movement would not stop until complete democracy was not revived.


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