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Fuel Price Hike Triggers Violent Protests In Nepal

Fuel price hikes in Nepal have irked student organizations who came out on the streets to protest this move in Katmandu//. The protestors blocked roads and stoned vehicles and burnt tyres on the streets. They also demanded the resignation of the commerce minister. The population of Nepal is furious with the price hike, which has made fuel 11 to 25 percent costlier.

The student wings of two of the leading parties in the coalition government, including Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's Nepali Congress party and the youth wing of the Maoist guerrillas brought transport to a standstill in over a dozen places in the capital. They were joined by protesting taxi drivers who blocked roads in two areas.

Former deputy prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who heads the Communist Party of Nepal - Unified Marxist Leninist, the second largest party in Nepal, had his house pelted with stones by an angry mob in the afternoon.

Protests were also reported from key towns of Pokhara, Biratnagar in eastern Nepal, Kavre and Baglung. There were also demands for the resignation of Hridayesh Tripathi, minister for industry, commerce and supplies.

The hike was defended by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, who said Saturday Nepal has been losing millions of rupees every month due to the disparity between domestic and global oil prices.

"No government likes to impose hardships on people," Mahat said. "But there was no other way."

The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) announced Friday that fuel prices would go up from midnight after the government gave its go-ahead in a desperate bid to stem whopping losses.

The NOC has been losing almost NRS 840 million (about $11 million) every month. The agency was unable to pay its dues to India's Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), from which it imports fuels, making the tab run into nearly NRS 9 billion.

From Saturday, petrol will cost NRS 84.25 per litre, up b
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