Nepal deity 'sweats' -- bad times ahead?
May 20, 2007 - 4:33:03 PM
Kathmandu, May 20 - As the political stalemate in Nepal continued and the security situation worsened in the southern Terai plains, priests of a temple in the mountainous north reported 'sweat' oozing out of the deity's stone idol - spelling further woes for the Himalayan nation.
Priests at the famed Bhimsen temple in Jiri town in Dolakha district, 133 km north of here, said the stone idol was 'sweating'. According to popular belief, this heralds bad times for the country, especially the royal family.
In 1990, a 'sweating' Bhimsen resulted in a pro-democracy movement that ended the absolute power of the Shah dynasty of kings.
In 2001, the deity is said to have sweated on the night before the infamous palace massacre in which the king, queen and eight more members of the royal family were killed.
The last time Bhimsen was reported to have sweated was during the 15-month direct rule of King Gyanendra, which ended last year after a public uprising.
Priests Saturday night were alarmed to 'sweat' oozing out afresh from the left side of the deity twice - in the evening and at night. They reported the phenomenon to authorities, a private radio station said Sunday.
The omen comes at a time Nepal's political impasse has deepened with little likelihood of the government announcing fresh dates for the much-awaited elections, regarded as the solution to Nepal's problems.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala met Sunday the chief of a minor party in the eight-party coalition to rule out holding a meeting with the leaders to decide fresh poll dates.
Narayan Man Bijukchhe, chief of the left Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, told the media after the meeting that the premier has ruled out holding the crucial eight-party meeting till rampaging Maoist cadres were reined in and the rebels began returning public property captured during their 10-year-old people's war.
Koirala has also set a second precondition for the talks, demanding that MPs from the Terai belt, which has remained paralysed for over a month, stop obstructing parliament.
The Maoists have declared that they would not relinquish captured booty before the election.
The government narrowly averted an indefinite closure threatened by Maoist supremo Prachanda, who Saturday said his party would begin a general strike in all sectors from Sunday unless the government took steps to improve the condition of the makeshift barracks where the Maoist army is currently confined.
The threat forced the government to quickly transfer the responsibility of the camps to the physical planning and infrastructure ministry, headed by Maoist leaders, from the earlier peace and reconstruction ministry headed by a leader of Koirala's Nepali Congress party.
The Terai MPs say they will continue obstructing parliament till the government cancels a commission formed to create more election constituencies, especially in the Terai region.
Over 35,000 schools in the country have been shut since last week with teachers calling an indefinite strike and refusing to hold talks with officials in the absence of the education and sports minister, who is away in the Maldives.
The last straw has been a fresh show of defiance by an armed group of former Maoists.
The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha, led by former Maoist cadre Jwala Singh, threw a challenge at home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, who Saturday warned the government would deal sternly with people disturbing law and order.
Singh's group answered the warning by bombing the house of a senior leader of the Nepali Congress.
The group bombed MP Ram Baran Yadav's house in Janakpur town in Dhanusha district in the plains Saturday night, after which they stuck their flag on the roof and declared to have seized it.
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