Two Madhesi protesters were killed in police firing and 44 others including policemen injured in fresh clashes at two different places in Saptari district of Nepal on Saturday night.
The incident which comes after weeks of lull in violent protests due to the festival season could affect talks between the government and Madhes-based parties who are protesting against the new constitution.
According to police, the incident occurred when Madhesi protesters targeted passenger and freight vehicles being escorted by police at Bhardah and Rupani on the East West highway.
“Around 11PM Madhesi protesters started pelting stones, bottles and petrol bombs at us and the vehicles being escorted. We had no option but to retaliate,” said district police chief Bhim Prasad Dhakal.
Two protesters, Virendra Ram and Nageshwar Yadav, were killed in police firing. Nineteen protesters and 25 policemen sustained injuries.
The district administration has imposed curfew at three places, Bhardah, Rupani and parts of Rajbiraj, to bring the situation under control.
“Areas close to the highway are restricted for public between 9 pm and 7 am. But Madhesi protesters violated the restrictions, blocked the highway and targeted vehicles,” said Dhakal.
Violence continued on Sunday as well with protesters torching two motorcycles and a truck in Saptari and Dhanusha districts. The official vehicle of Saptari police chief was burnt and a concrete bridge was damaged as well.
Madhesi lawmakers belonging to parties under the United Democratic Madhesi Forum banner disrupted proceedings of parliament on Sunday forcing Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar to postpone the session till November 26.
“The Saptari incident shows that instead of being serious to resolve the present crisis through talks, the government seems interested in pushing the country to crisis by applying force against peaceful demonstrators,” said Chairman of Federal Socialist Forum Upendra Yadav.
Madhesi protesters had attacked an ambulance carrying a patient in Sunsari district on Saturday resulting in serious injuries to the driver.
Protests have been going on for over three months now in Madhes region of Nepal bordering India against demarcation of federal states in the new statute. Nearly 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured.
Efforts at talks have failed to make much headway as Madhes-based parties who are spearheading the protests are demanding amendments in the constitution to address their demands.
Blockade of the border points including the one at Birganj through which over 70% of trade between India and Nepal takes place by Madhesi protesters has led to severe crisis of essential goods and petroleum products in Nepal.