Casino workers demonstrate against alleged police harassment
Staff at a Nepalese casino are staging a week-long protest directed at frequent police raids on their casino that they claim were illegal.
Workers at a casino in Kathmandu are staging the protest - which includes three hours of traffic blockages - in response to the latest in a series of raids on local casinos by police.
A recent demonstration saw clashes between casino protesters and police in which authorities used tear gas to disperse the protesting casino workers. Reports suggest that over two dozen protesters and police were injured in the trouble.
The casino workers have also presented a letter to the Nepalese Prime Minister Prachanda asking him to guarantee the jobs of thousands of casino workers - who keep people happy with games of blackjack, roulette, and poker - employed in the Nepalese capital city.
Kalpa Deep Rai, president of one casino workers' union said:
"We will no longer tolerate the repeated crackdowns on casinos on the pretext of carrying out routine checks. We will fight against the injustice done to entertainment businesses and the hundreds of families dependent on the casinos."
The raided casino is alleged to have been the focus of an illegal gambling operation, although a number of surrounding casinos have also been subjected to surprise police raids.
Meanwhile, casino operators in Nepal have condemned the actions of local police. In a joint statement, the casino operators called the protests "regrettable" and said that the moves would have a negative impact on the tourist industry of Kathmandu.
"It is regrettable that such an incident took place at a time when the five star hotels of Kathmandu are full of foreign tourists.
"Almost daily random police raids has not only harassed the casino operators but also scared the tourists staying in hotels and casinos. This has threatened the jobs of thousands of casino staff."