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Nepal’s anti-constitution protesters clash with police

Supporters of an ethnic minority group demanding changes in Nepal’s new Constitution have clashed with police and blocked main streets near the prime minister’s office for a second straight day.

world Updated: May 16, 2016 21:47 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
Nepal,Madhesis,Ethnic minority
Nepalese activists from the Federal Alliance (members of the Madhesi and ethnic communities) scuffle with police as they try to break through a police cordon during a demonstration against the government in Kathmandu.(AFP Photo)

Clashes erupted for the second consecutive day on Monday between ethnic protesters opposed to Nepal’s new constitution and the police outside the seat of government in Kathmandu.

Two protesters sustained minor injuries when police used force to prevent them from breaking a barricade near Singha Darbar. Two other people were injured when they were roughed up by protesters.

Nearly 500 slogan-shouting and flag bearing protesters belonging to Madhes region in southern Nepal and other ethnic communities, which are opposed to the statute adopted in September last year, picketed outside Singha Darbar.

Nepal police arrested a British national for allegedly taking part in the anti-constitution protests by Madhesi and other ethnic organisations. Martin Pewar was arrested after photos of several foreigners participating in protests on Sunday went viral on social media.

“It is against immigration law for foreigners to take part in such protests,” home ministry spokesperson Yadav Koirala was quoted as saying by state-run Rastriya Samachar Samiti.

The protestors are demanding changes in the constitution, including fresh demarcation of federal boundaries to ensure “adequate” representation for marginalised communities in legislative bodies.

Protests in Madhes region between last September and February claimed more than 50 lives, and a blockade of Nepal’s border with India resulted in severe shortages of essential goods, especially fuel.

The protesters have rejected two amendments to the statute carried out last year to accommodate their demands. Several rounds of talks with the government have failed to resolve the issue.

Federal Alliance, the umbrella organisation comprising 27 parties opposed to the statute, plans to organise protests outside the prime minister’s official residence on Tuesday.

Authorities are contemplating action against other foreigners who took part in the protests and there is possibility of their visas being terminated.

The move comes days after the government cancelled the visa of a Canadian national working in Nepal over his tweets on the political scenario, including the anti-constitution movement.

First Published: May 16, 2016 15:08 IST