A 19-year-old Indian has been killed after Nepal police opened fire on people demonstrating against the new Constitution near the Indo-Nepal border on Monday. The initial action of baton-charge on Madhesi protesters snowballed into major clashes after Nepal police personnel allegedly burnt down their tents and evicted them from a key bridge in the area.
Union External Affairs ministry has expressed “deep concerns” on the incident.
“We are deeply concerned at reports coming in of firing today in Birgunj. An innocent Indian was also killed in the firing. Issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to be addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively,” Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup said adding the government was monitoring the situation carefully.
The deceased has been identified as Ashish Ram, resident of Raxaul in Bihar. Mr. Ram was killed as Nepal police opened fire on protesters at Shankaracharya Gate near Birgunj Customs.
Clashes erupted soon after as Nepalese police attempted to reopen the main Birgunj-Raxaul border trading point for the first time in 40 days. The trade point was sealed soon after violence in the area forced authorities to clamp an indefinite curfew. Nearly 200 empty trucks stranded in the Nepalese side of the border were allowed to enter into the Indian territory during the brief period when the police took control of the area.
However, a 15-km long queue of vehicles is waiting for clearance from Indian authorities for entering into Nepal.
Several protesters were injured after police fired rubber bullets to maintain law and order. Eight personnel of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force too sustained injuries after agitators hurled stones at them.
Madhesis, who claim to represent the interests of the Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region (plains), have been protesting against the new constitution adopted by Nepal government. They have been all claiming that the new Constitution will not be able to address the issues of indigenous Terai region people.
Their agitation has led to a halt in supply of essential goods though the main Indo-Nepal trading point near Raxaul, causing acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.
Talks between Nepal government and Madhesi groups ended inconclusively on Sunday but Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa said the dialogue was moving in a positive direction.
Among their major demands, the Madhesi Front are seeking to re-draw the demarcation of the federal provinces and inclusion of more rights and representation to the Indian-origin Madhesi people.
Over 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.
(With inputs from the PTI)