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Maitighar-Baneshwor area declared off-limits for protests

The move comes days before Durga Prasain and Mahesh Basnet’s planned protests

Maitighar-Baneshwor area declared off-limits for protests

Kathmandu District Administration Office (DAO)  has declared the sensitive stretch between Maitighar Mandala and Baneshwor area a prohibited zone for 30 days starting Monday. 

The stretch covers Padmodaya Mod-Singhadurbar (West Gate), Supreme Court-Maitighar Mandala and Maitighar Mandala-New Baneshwor. 

Clause 6 (3A) of the Local Administration Act, 2028 bars the congregation of more than five people at a riot-hit area or if there’s a possibility of riots in an area. 

The reading of the ‘riot act’ comes after the DAO made it clear that it won’t let neither Durga Prasain (a pro-royalist) nor Mahesh Basnet (a CPN-UML leader) organize demonstrations at the nerve center of Maitighar Mandala, given concerns related to peace and security. 

In reference to the rival groups’ plans to ‘show their respective strength’ simultaneously at Maitighar Mandala on Nov 23, Assistant Chief District Officer Rabindra Prasad Acharya told ApEx earlier that they won’t allow either of the protesting party to organize their programs at Maitighar Mandala, given its proximity to major hospitals, ministries, courts and schools. “We won’t allow the opposing sides to organize programs at the same place, time and date,” he added, “We have told them to conduct their programs at separate venues.”

In line with the DAO’s decision, the UML-aligned Yuva Sangh has relocated their demonstration at Tinkune. However, Prasain’s side has not responded to DAO’s ruling yet.

Acharya said the DAO was in constant contact with both sides, and the latter were okay with separate venues for their respective programs. “We will ensure security for both sides,” he said. 

The Yuva Sangh has announced a ‘demonstration of youth and students against the government and anarchists’ on Nov 23, while Prasain plans to launch a ‘nation, nationality, religion, culture, and civil protection campaign’ at the same time and place, giving rise to fear of clashes.

Of late, Basnet and Prasain, a former leftist leader, have come to blows, verbally, pointing at worsening relations between the two political forces. The UML expressed dissatisfaction with Prasain after his statement alleging UML Chair KP Oli’s ‘huge investments’ in Cambodia. Prasain has also charged that Basnet was behind a recent incident where a youth painted black soot on his face. On his part, Basnet has blamed a group for creating obstructions at the behest of Prasain while he was heading to Jhapa for attending a program.

In view of possible clashes between the two sides, the Home Ministry has held discussions with Chief District Officers (CDOs) and police chiefs of all three districts of the Kathmandu valley.

Spokesperson at the Kathmandu Valley Police Office, SP Dinesh Raj Mainali, said CDOs, who chair respective District Security Committees, were working in close coordination to ensure security. “We have been closely monitoring the developments and assessing security threats,” he said, adding that their focus will be on keeping the peace.