Nepal police arrest 223 protesters for vandalisation during nationwide strike

WION Kathmandu, Central Development Region, Nepal Nov 13, 2016, 08.46 AM(IST)

Three vehicles were vandalised but no casualties reported during the nationwide strike. Photograph:( Getty )

Police arrested 223 members of a Maoist splinter group across Nepal on Sunday for vandalising vehicles and forcing shops to close while trying to enforce a nationwide strike. 

The protesters from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) had called on factories, schools and public transport to shut down across the Himalayan nation as they pressured the government to provide food subsidies.

"We have arrested 223 people for trying to block roads and vandalise vehicles," police spokesman Hemant Malla told AFP.

Malla said that three vehicles had been vandalised but no casualties have been reported. 

Kathmandu's usually gridlocked streets were largely empty and many shops remained shut.

"The main aim of our protest is to pressure the government to lower the prices of food grains, fuel and cooking gas.... The government should provide 50 per cent subsidy on these items to make them affordable for the public," said party spokesman Khadga Bahadur Biswokarma.

Nepal's inflation rate soared to 12 per cent last year following a massive earthquake and months-long border blockade by demonstrators unhappy with the terms of a new constitution but has since eased to 7.9 per cent, according to the country's central bank.