Nepal cinemas close after Maoist orders

Above: Chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN-Maoist), Pushpa Kamal Dahal

KATHMANDU - Most cinemas in Nepal's capital were closed to film fans on Tuesday after their owners bowed to demands by hardline Maoists to stop screening Bollywood movies.

Operators of around a dozen movie theatres in Kathmandu had either decided to shut up shop or else only show Nepalese movies, according to a police spokesman and cinema managers.

"Three operators in Kathmandu have stopped showing Indian movies while two operators have switched to Nepalese movies," Kathmandu police spokesman Dhiraj Prataph Singh told AFP.

One cinema operator said he had no option but to close to customers as there were not enough Nepalese movies that could be shown as alternatives.

"We have to suffer a daily loss of 300,000 Nepalese rupees (around $3,500) in the absence of Hindi movies," Surendra Thapa, a manager of QFX Central which operates three cinemas in Kathmandu, told the English language Republica daily.

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a breakaway faction that split from the ruling Maoist party in June, ordered the move at the end of last month, saying that Indian movies were spreading "hatred against Nepal and Nepali people".

Although it did not spell out the consequences for cinema managers who defied the edict, the party said it would send members to theatres to enforce the ban.

The party also banned Indian-registered vehicles from crossing into Nepal in protest over what it sees as India's growing influence on the Himalayan nation.

The mainstream Maoist party, which waged an armed insurgency between 1996-2006 and won elections in 2008, split in June due to ideological differences between its leaders, sparking fears of violent protests by the splinter group.

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