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Fresh protests hit southern Nepal, one killed in police firing

Kathmandu: A Class 10 Madhesi student was on Sunday killed in police firing in southern Nepal as fresh protests by Indian-origin Madhesis engulfed the Terai region already crippled by a four-month-long agitation over the new Constitution.

18-year-old Tavrej Alam was killed when police opened fire on protesters led by United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) in Rautahat district headquarter Gaur when a crowd of about 1,500 demonstrators started throwing stones and bottles at security personnel, a police official said.

Alam, a 10th grader at Juddha Higher Secondary School, was rushed to Rautahat District Hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

He was hit by a bullet while burning a copy of the Constitution Amendment Bill, which the government claims is aimed at addressing some of the demands of the Madhesi people.

Medical Superintendent Krishna Sha said Alam died due to injuries in kidney and private parts. Witnesses claimed police personnel had kicked him even after he was hit by the bullet.

Chief District Officer Narhari Baral said authorities were compelled to use force as the demonstration grew violent.

The district administration imposed an indefinite curfew in Gaur area following the violence. Situation remained tense.

“Earlier we thought the protests would be peaceful. The demonstrators turned violent despite our restraint, due to which curfew had to be clamped,” Baral said.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called an emergency meeting of his Cabinet in view of the growing tension.

Southern Nepal, including Gaur and Birgunj, have remained tense since yesterday as UDMF launched a new phase of protests in the volatile region, alleging that the government was not “serious” during the talks they had had with the government.

Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai region and who constitute nearly 52 per cent of Nepal’s population, have been agitating for the past four months, demanding more representation in the Constitution adopted in September.

Madhesis see the division of their ancestral homeland into seven provinces as a way to politically marginalise them. They have blockaded Nepal’s border trade points with India, causing a shortage of essential goods and medicines in the landlocked country.

At least 50 people have been killed in the Madhesi-led protests since August.

Nepal’s border areas were tensed following clashes between protesters and police. In Sarlahi, police arrested many UDMF cadres heading to shut the district administration office.

The UDMF had announced the new phase of protests as they believed the Oli government was taking the negotiations with them lightly. The group has said that any talk with the government now will be held in the southern Madhesh region.


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