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Strikes cripple Nepal as constitution deadline nears

world Updated: May 10, 2012 23:47 IST
Utpal Parashar

With 17 days left for expiry of the constitution drafting deadline, Nepal is witnessing strikes called by various groups on the issue of restructuring the country into federal units.

Normal life across the Himalayan nation remained affected on Thursday due to a two-day strike called by joint committee of various caste groups opposing carving of Nepal on the basis of ethnicity.

The Brahmins, Chhetris, Khas Khastriyas, Dasnamis, Thakuris and Dalits are also demanding recognition of their identity in the new constitution.

But it’s not the only strike that’s crippling the country. Over the past weeks many diverse groups have called such strikes voicing their concern on restructuring and seeking protection of their ethnic identities.

Nine districts in the far-western region of Nepal have remained paralysed for two weeks now in protest against a Maoist proposal to divide some parts of the region and include them in another state.

The National Muslim Struggle Coalition also called a strike in four districts of the Terai plains seeking identity in the new statute.

On Wednesday four persons were injured when police fired on a group of Tharu demonstrators who were demanding action against vandalism at a museum in Nawalparasi during a strike on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, six districts in Nepal’s east remained closed for two days due to a strike called by the Eastern Tharuwan Kochila Joint Struggle Committee demanding a separate state.

The strikes are a result of continuing uncertainty over how Nepal’s 75 existing districts would be carved into states in such a way that it pleases ethnic and linguistic aspirations of all groups.

Despite several rounds of talks major parties have failed to arrive at consensus on what shape the states should take. The issue is likely to be resolved through voting in the Constituent Assembly.