Protests over the newly drafted Constitution have resumed in Nepal. Indian-origin Madhesis clashed with the police to seek more rights and representation in the new Constitution.
Demonstrators blocked key roads near the Prime Minister’s office in Kathmandu as their fresh protests entered the second day.
About a thousand protesters chanted anti-government slogans near the Prime Minister’s office and tried to break the police barricade which triggered a violent clash.
“We are seeking equality in this constitution, our protest will continue until we get equality,” said Mohammed Sharif Gaddi, a protester.
The riot police used batons to disperse the demonstrators. According to the Federal Alliance which is a group of seven Madhes-based political parties among other ethnic groups, three protesters sustained minor injuries.
Security was stepped up around Singha Durbar secretariat complex that houses the prime minister’s office and government offices. Hundreds of riot policemen were deployed in the area to prevent a clash.
Parashu Ram Tamang, the Federal Alliance spokesperson said police personnel stopped “hundreds of leaders and cadres” heading to join the protest, interrogated them, seized flags and banners and frisked them unnecessarily.
Madhesis, which are a minority group oppose a plan in the new Constitution which divide their fertile plains bordering India into parts of several provinces. They want re-demarcation of the seven province model of the federal structure, proportionate representation of marginalised groups and ethnic minorities which include the Madhesis, indigenous groups and dalits in all the state bodies. They want the government to re-write the Constitution to meet their demands.
Earlier, the Madhesis had launched a six-month-long agitation in which more than 50 people were killed. The agitation had also crippled the landlocked country’s economy as supplies from India were blocked.
The economic blockade, which has caused fuel shortages in Kathmandu as the Madhesis blocked imports of essential goods from India, is a threat to Prime Minister K. P. Oli, who survived an attempt by the opposition to topple his fractious coalition early this month.
The alliance has this time changed its strategy and focused their protest in the capital city in an attempt to draw attention of the government and other stakeholders to their demands.
(With inputs from agencies)