15 minutes ago:
Got a little tense out at Naya Bazaar a few minutes ago. The Armed police found themselves sandwiched between two massive groups of demonstrating Maoists (pictured) on their way to Ratna Park for the Big Rally.
blogdai spent the last hour in the midst of the Maoist multitudes. Got me a free Prachanda tee shirt in the process. A pattern was evident and it showed the Maoist's mastery of mob control. Ninety percent of the marchers appeared to be bewildered villagers who were either forcibly coerced or promised jobs in Kathmandu by the Maoists. Circling the group like a wild pack of Australian sheep dogs were a core cadre of angry looking teenage boys. They kept everyone in line and shouted out the slogans for all to ape.
Standing with onlookers from time to time, blogdai was privy to one of those light-hearted Ironic nepali moments. Lots of laughter when throngs of maoists shouting "Maoists live" were shouted down by a lone poor dalit newspaper seller (with very strong lungs) saying: " The King to visit Patan today." This guy was going to make a living no matter what.
Anyway, tensions escalated briefly as the armed cops initially refused to let one group of Maoists join another at the top of the Naya Bazaar hill. Calmly, a young maoist asked the commander to move his trucks so all could pass (pictured). Politeness paid off because the commander moved five trucks full of armed police out of the way without so much as a threatening glance. Go figure.
Going to the Big Rally at Ratna park in a few hours. Don't anticipate any violence as Prachanda won't be showing his face. This was anticipated by blogdai and is a telling and ominous development. First and foremost, a Prachanda no-show almost guarantees that the maoists will break off peace talks. Surprised? Next, it is a clear indication--to the entire world, finally--that the Maoists have neither the confidence nor the military strength to ensure the safety of their leader and movement in the RNA's back yard.
I know we've been preaching to the choir here, but our predictions are sadly accurate. It's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.