KATHMANDU: Riot police used batons and tear gas to halt tens of thousands of supporters of former king who attempted to march to the centre of the capital on Thursday to demand the restoration of the monarchy and the nation's former status as a Hindu state.
The protesters, waving the national flag and chanting slogans supporting former King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, gathered on the Ring Road of Kathmandu and attempted to move towards the centre of the city. Riot police blocked them, beating them with bamboo batons and firing tear gas and a water cannon. There were minor injuries on both sides.
Authorities had banned protests in key areas of the city prior to the rally.
"We love our king and country more than our lives. Bring back the monarchy. Abolish the republic," the crowd chanted.
Supporters of the former king came to Kathmandu from all over the country to demand the return of the monarchy that was abolished in 2008. They accused the government and political parties of corruption and failed governance.
Weeks of street protests in 2006 forced then-King Gyanendra to abandon his authoritarian rule and introduce democracy.
Two years later, a newly elected parliament voted to abolish the monarchy and declared Nepal a republic with a president as head of state.
Since then, Gyanendra has been living as a private citizen with no power or state protection. He still has some support among the people but little chance of returning to power.
The demonstrators also demanded that Nepal be turned back into a Hindu state. Nepal was declared a secular state in 2007 by an interim constitution.