Armed group calls strike in Terai
May 9, 2007 - 1:52:36 PM

Kathmandu, May 9 - As Nepal's coalition government sought to resolve the impasse over the elections by calling a meeting to decide fresh dates, the turbulent Terai plains continued to erupt, with a relatively unknown armed group calling a closure in three key districts.

Rautahat, Bara and Parsa districts in south-central Nepal were hit Wednesday as the Terai Cobras, an armed group also demanding autonomy for people of Indian origin in the plains, enforced a closure.

Though no untoward incidents were reported immediately, the East-West Highway, Nepal's lifeline providing the main supplies route from India, remained blocked in places and long-distant transport was disrupted.

Shops and business establishments remained largely closed.

The continuing trouble in the Terai plains recently forced the Election Commission to rule out holding the much-awaited election June 20, as announced by the Girija Prasad Koirala government.

Nearly 70 people have died so far in clashes in the plains, with Gaur town in Rautahat district witnessing the death of 29 people in one single incident.

Though the government formed a team of ministers to start dialogue with the dissenting groups, it is yet to open negotiations with the Terai protesters.

The turmoil has spread to the capital as well with MPs from the plains, cutting across party lines, disrupting parliamentary sessions.

The house has been unable to convene for nearly a month with the plains MPs and Maoists storming the rostrum and refusing to let the speaker proceed, insisting that their demands be met first.

To resolve the impasse, top leaders of the eight ruling parties, including the Maoists, are to meet Thursday to discuss fresh dates for the constituent assembly election that will decide the fate of Nepal's 238-year monarchy.

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