A one-day general strike called by different ethnic groups Wednesday shut down the Nepalese capital and several other neighbouring districts.
Normal life in the capital Kathmandu came to a grinding halt after cadres belonging to two groups close to the Maoist former rebels forcibly shut down shops and halted transport.
United Republican Dalit Front, a group representing the marginalised class of people, and Tamang National Republican Front called the strike demanding restructuring of the state to ensure special rights to oppressed and ethnic groups as well as proportional representation in the electoral system.
The strike closed major markets, financial institutions, offices and schools and halted all forms of vehicular traffic.
Groups of strike supporters manned major intersections stopping vehicles while small groups asked shopkeepers to down their shutters.
The protestors also burnt tyres and put up barricade on major roads in the city.
The strike was by and large peace peaceful but police said several arrests were made to maintain law and order.
"At least 21 people were arrested in Kathmandu for trying to vandalise vehicles and engage in violent activities," chief of Kathmandu metropolitan police Surbendra Khanal said.
Meanwhile, several other districts were hit by strikes called by various organizations.
Half a dozen districts outside Kathmandu Valley were closed Wednesday after the Maoist aligned Tamang Liberation Front declared a general strike.
The strike prevented long distance buses and cargo trucks from operating.
And in restive southern Nepal, an ethnic militant group calling itself Madhesi Tigers closed down several districts in the south-eastern part of the country.
The group said it was protesting "the government's continued ignorance of demands of the ethnic Madhesi community for proportional representation in the constituent assembly elections."
There is a growing trend in Nepal for various groups to use strikes and closures as pressure tactics on the government in the run up to the key elections in November.
The groups are seeking more seats guaranteed to different ethnic and interest groups in the body that will draw up a new constitution for the country and decide on the future of monarchy in the Himalayan nation.
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 11:03