Kathmandu: Hundreds of Madhesi protesters on Sunday scuffled with Nepal police as they restarted protests against the new Constitution and press for their demands relating to more rights, adequate representation and re-demarcation of provincial boundary. Traffic movement was disrupted in the vicinity of Singhdurbar, the main administrative complex of the country, for hours due to the protest.
About 2,000 protesters gathered at Singhdurbar and Nayabaneshwor areas, an hour before the government office open. They forcefully tried to enter the prohibited areas, triggering a scuffle with riot police who were deployed to guard the important government offices. The protesters were carrying placards with anti- government and pro-Madhesi slogans. The leaders and cadres of Federal Alliance, the grouping of seven Madhes-based political parties and 22 other ethnic groups, also joined protesters.
There was heavy presence of security personnel in the area since early morning to prevent any untoward incident. The major demands of Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, include re-demarcation of the seven province model of federal structure, inclusiveness and proportionate representation of marginalised groups and ethnic minorities including the Madhesis, indigenous groups and dalits in all the state bodies. "Our other demands include proportionate representation, inclusive representation for the Madhesis and other marginalised groups in various state mechanisms, and rights related to language and citizenship certificate," said Laxman Lal Karna, vice-president of Nepal Sadbhawana party, one of the members of the alliance said.
The alliance started their Kathmandu-centric fresh protests yesterday. Madhesis earlier had launched six-month-long agitation from September to February 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 alliance has this time changed its strategy and focused on capital city in an attempt to draw attention of the government and other stakeholders to their demands.
On Friday, Madhesi parties rejected the government's fresh call for talks and asked the ruling coalition to create a "conducive atmosphere" for dialogue to end the political crisis. The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of seven Madhes-based parties, accused Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli's government of using excessive force to suppress their agitation demanding more constitutional representation.
"Government is not serious enough to address the issues raised by the agitating Madhesi parties through dialogue," the Front had said....