Dozens arrested as Nepalese protest fuel price rise

KATHMANDU (TIP): Nepalese students protesting at fuel price rises set a parked bus on fire and vandalised other vehicles on March 19 during a strike in the capital Kathmandu, leading police to make more than 60 arrests.

The city-wide strike, called by student unions to protest at an increase in the price of petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel last week, saw schools and colleges shut and most government vehicles stay off the roads. Some 2,000 police patrolled the streets, detaining protesters as they tried to enforce the strike by stopping vehicles.

“We have arrested 67 protestors this morning for trying to stop and vandalise taxis, garbage-disposal trucks and other vehicles,” police spokesman Ganesh KC told AFP. “Protesters also set a parked bus on fire, but no one was inside it,” he said. Finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat decried the strike, tweeting that it would “only raise production cost and make our economy uncompetitive”.

A cluster of student unions called the strike after the government refused to roll back increases of up to 7.6 percent in the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and aviation fuel, announced to offset the rising cost of oil imports. The Himalayan nation imports fuel from its southern neighbour India, itself an oil importer battling surging costs and high inflation.

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