From A World to Win News Service

What Happened During the Countrywide Shutdown in Nepal?

Revolutionary Worker #1273, April 3, 2005, posted at

We received the following from the A World to Win News Service.

March 14, 2005. A World to Win News Service. In reaction to King Gyanendra's coup against parliament, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) called on the Nepalese people to take part in an indefinite bandh (strike and general shutdown) including a ban on all vehicular traffic throughout the country from February 12. The Maoists called off the bandh two weeks later. Royal Army-censored Nepali press called the strike "unfortunate" while blacking out any real news. What was unfortunate about this bandh for the royal regime and its army was clear on the ground. The Maoist newspaper Janadesh has published some accounts of what happened during these two weeks.

The weekly wrote that the indefinite strike called by the party interrupted all the highways that link the capital, Kathmandu, with the rest of the country. In the Muglin-Naubise area of the Prithwi highway, hardly two hours from the capital, there were 15 days of cat-and-mouse back-and-forth movements between the two armies of the two states—the People's Liberation Army of the new state and the Royal Army of the old state. The Royal Army did everything possible to break the strike. It forced bus drivers to move their empty buses at gunpoint. They used unarmed people as human shields for their military vehicles.

On February 19, the PLA took action against 13 vehicles breaching the embargo and destroyed them. The next day, a unit of the PLA's Fourth Brigade attacked the Royal Army at Krishnabhir on the same highway, killing one Royal Army personnel and wounding five others. On February 21, a confrontation took place between the PLA and the RNA. An Indian truck driver died and three others were seriously injured in the crossfire. Gyanendra's censored newspaper falsely claimed that the Maoists murdered the driver.

On different dates along the same highway, almost a dozen Royal Army personnel were injured in the mine and booby-traps laid out by the PLA. Maoist revolutionaries had erected barriers across the highway in many places by cutting down big trees, collecting stones, laying down booby-troops, burning tires, etc. While the PLA was erecting these barriers, the masses of the people provided security in addition to helping build them. In Lamjung district, central Nepal, two Royal Army personnel were killed when they fell into a booby-trap on February 21.

The Royal Army carried out helicopter patrols over the motorways almost every day. On February 19 they hurled bombs over those areas. The Maoist revolutionaries consider this a form of psychological war against the PLA.

After two weeks Comrade Prachanda, Chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and supreme commander of the PLA, issued a statement saying that "out of a sense of our full responsibility to the masses of people" the party had decided to end the bandh for the time being. He announced in this February 26 statement, "We are going to start a new phase of increasing military resistance and mass mobilization of the people."