Civilians live in fear of increasing violence

Ambika Khatri is too scared to even peep out of her window due to the 12-hour curfew, imposed for the fourth consecutive day by the royal government in Nepal’s major cities and towns to prevent further mass democratic rallies, which have been taking place across the country over the past week.

Led by the seven main opposition parties, the demonstrators are calling for an end to the absolute rule of King Gyanendra, who assumed direct rule in 1 February, 2005 after suspending the democratic government.

“The police and army threaten us to stay inside the house all the time or face arrests and beating,” explained Khatri. She is also afraid of the violence on the streets due to the constant clashes between the anti-king demonstrators and the security forces.

“The violence in the streets and around our neighbourhoods has become extremely dangerous. By the end of the day, we see a lot of blood on the street,” said Susan Tamang, an 11-year-old boy from the small town of Kirtipur, barely 10 km south of the capital. He injured his head after being accidentally hit by a brick thrown by the demonstrators, who were targeting the armed police and soldiers for intervening in the peaceful anti-king rallies.

Like Tamang, many civilians are afraid of the government increasing the number of security personnel on the streets.

“Their constant interference and intimidation has constantly agitated the peaceful demonstrators who are now resorting to violence by throwing stones, bricks and burning tyres in the main roads,” said political activist Ramesh Adhikari. He added that the armed police always responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets, injuring a large number of the demonstrators.

“My eyes are severely injured. I can barely see now,” said 22-year-old Prasuchan Debkota, who got shot by a rubber bullet while he was raising an anti-king banner.

Meanwhile, human rights workers are concerned about the safety of the relatives and family members of the police and army personnel as the agitated demonstrators have also started to attack their properties to vent their anger against the government’s heavy-handed action against their peaceful rallies.

On Tuesday, nearly 1,000 demonstrators stormed into the house of a senior police official, Inspector General Rup Sagar Moktan. The demonstrators threw bricks and stones and burned down the main gate of the house, terrorising the officer’s family. In return, the security forces shot back and injured around 30 demonstrators.

“I was merely doing my duty,” said a heavily bleeding police constable, 32-year-old Nanda Prasad Tamang, who was lynched by the mob of infuriated demonstrators while trying to escape but was saved by the human rights workers. Tamang was one of the security guards assigned to provide security to the officer’s family.

“The government should realise that the use of force by the security forces ultimately victimises their own families, especially the innocent wives and children,” said Kamala Pariyar, a local woman who had been witnessing the demonstrators breaking down the house.