Finally got to the big rally.....
blogdai estimated the crowd to be at 650,000--plus or minus (below).
Streets were blocked off. The entire Ratna park, including the off limits no-entry zone were filled to capacity. Kantipath from Ratna up to the palace and west to Asan Tole was full as well. Durbar marg up to the Royal Palace's "zone of safety" was also chock full of people.
Vendor's were doing a brisk business in jewelry, melons and corn, yet the atmosphere was far from festive.
blogdai stayed directly on the grounds about one hundred meters from the speaker's podium for over an hour. Something was not right. It finally occured to blogdai that the entire gathering was under an eerie pall of silence. I have never heard such silence from a group this large. No smiles no chanting, nothing. You expect the crowd to respond to the speaker from time to time, but again, nothing.
Only one word to describe it: repressive.
From the looks on the faces of those attending, no one wanted to be there, save the small minority of those zealous angry teen Maoists shepherd dogs (above) who handled gate entry and passed out literature. Overall, a very underwhelming "show of force" from the Maobadis. No wonder K.P. Oli was able to muster up the courage to publicly condemn maoist threats today in the Himalayan Times.
We saw it in the April protests and now we see it again at Ratna Park: The maoist's operating tactic of using a few agressive individuals to coerce a large multitude once again worked to a tee. They are masterfully leveraging a small force of activists against a peace-loving and compliant public.
Prepare for the peacetalks to break down. Prepare for more months of conflict. Prepare to be led to the slaughter, Nepalis, if you continue to act like sheep in the face of these violent little boys.