Strike paralyses Nepali capital | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 23, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 23, 2007

Strike paralyses Nepali capital

A strike called by local groups demanding greater rights closed businesses and schools and left the streets of Nepal's capital deserted yesterday.
"Kathmandu is shut down. But so far there have not been any reports from the field on any destruction, casualties or damage," Kathmandu police superintendant Sarbindra Khanal told AFP.
The protest was called by a Maoist-affiliated ethnic rights group -- the Tamang Rastriya Mukti Morcha or national liberation front -- and an association representing members of the "untouchable" caste known as Dalits.
"Today's strike has been announced as the government has not been serious in meeting our demands," said Tilak Pariyar, chairman of the Dalit Joint Republican Front.
At the bottom of Nepal's caste hierarchy, and making up around five million of Nepal's 27 million people, the Dalits are demanding that 20 per cent of all government department jobs be reserved for them.
The two million-strong Tamang ethnic minority want greater representation and also want Nepal to be declared a republic ahead of elections planned for November.
"We wrote a letter to the prime minister with 16 demands but the government did not respond," said Tamang front leader Talak Ghising.
The November vote is for a body to rewrite the country's constitution and decide the Himalayan nation's political future after a Maoist uprising ended with a peace deal late last year.

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