Chasing the People’s Liberation Army
We’re traveling during the week of municipal elections, an occasion the Maoists have decided to celebrate with a week-long bandh, a closure of the roads. We could’ve entered the rural district of Rolpa by driving up to Tila from Dang, and from there hiked north to our destination, Thawang, but given the bandh’s schedule our vehicle wouldn’t have been able to return for an entire week. So we fly from Nepalgunj to Musikot Khalanga, Rukum, instead.
Black Day at Bastantapur
February 1st, 2006 marks the first anniversary of the king’s takeover. The eight student unions are to march in from various parts of the city and converge at Basantapur in protest. When we get there at around 2, no such convergence occurs. There is little or no action, but finally some commotion.
The police seems to have somewhat updated its strategy—I hear some new training has been received. They form a barrier out of themselves and watch as student activists attempt to provoke them from a distance in narrow alleys. They hurl brick pieces, insults, and jokes, and at some point a senior officer yells, “Charge!” The policemen all roar like mad men, run towards the brick-throwers, who scatter into even narrower alleys. Some get held up, kicked at, whacked, and finally arrested. One gets inside a house. A senior officer barks at the officers already by the doorstep, one foot in, “Don’t enter the house! Don’t enter the house!” The police is aware of the presence of observers; the inspector has previously remarked, “There are more journalists here than protesters. We have journalists here from 60 countries.”