Indians, 179 others in Nepal jail call off protest fast
Apr 29, 2007 - 4:50:42 PM

Kathmandu, April 29 - After 11 days of hunger strike demanding amnesty, three Indians in a Kathmandu prison as well as 179 other detainees called off their protest after Nepal's government said it would look into their demand.

Indians Ajimon Joseph, Amrit Chauhan and Nasim Ansari went on hunger strike along with other detainees at the Dillibazar Sadorkhor prison here, asking to be released by the new government since it had freed former Maoist guerrillas charged with killings, robbery, bombing and other severe crimes.

Pressured by the growing publicity about the strike and prisoners in other jails across the country threatening to follow suit, Nepal's home ministry has agreed to form a high-level committee to look into the demands of the men, Nepal's official media said Sunday.

A team of Nepali human rights activists went to the prison Saturday afternoon and offered the protesters soft drinks to end their fast. Besides Indians, the protesting prisoners include several Pakistanis and Nigerians as well as a Singaporean, an American and a Chinese.

While some of the foreigners are serving out sentences, many are under trial. Though they could be found innocent eventually, still they are forced to stay behind bars as Nepal's laws rarely allow bail to foreigners accused of crimes.

The men say they should be pardoned since the Maoists, whose crimes were often much more severe, were released following a peace pact signed between the government and the rebels last year.

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