Madhesis and demonstrators from other minority groups seeking more rights and representation in Nepal’s new Constitution clashed with police and blocked main streets near the Prime Minister’s office as their fresh protests entered the second day today.
Some 1,000 protesters chanting anti-government slogans picketed near the Prime Minister’s office. They tried to break the police barricade, triggering a clash with the police.
The protesters chanted: ‘Down with incompetent government’, ‘Prime Minister K P Oli leave the country’ and ‘We want our demands to be fulfilled’.
Riot police used batons to disperse demonstrators.
Three Madhesi cadres sustained minor injuries during the clash, according to the agitating Federal Alliance, the grouping of seven Madhes-based political parties and 22 other ethnic groups.
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 an untoward incident.
The Federal Alliance spokesperson Parashu Ram Tamang said police personnel stopped “hundreds of leaders and cadres” heading to join the protest, interrogated them, seized flags and banners and frisked them unnecessarily.
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.
They want the government to re-write the Constitution to meet their demands. 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 their protest in the capital city in an attempt to draw attention of the government and other stakeholders to their demands.