Kathmandu, Nov 23 (IANS) With an almost three-month-old agitation by the Madhes-based groups aimed at securing changes in Nepal’s new constitution again turning violent, Nepal’s major political parties on Monday decided to table a bill in parliament to amend the statute thereby addressing the 11-point demands-charter of the protestors, it was announced here.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the three major parties — the Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) [CPN-UML] and Unified Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN)-Maoist — held at Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli’s official residence Baluwatar amid escalating protests by the Madhesis in the southern Nepali Terai region bordering India, Xinhua news agency reported.
“We decided to table the bill in parliament to make amendments in the constitution to accommodate the demands of the Madhesis. The government will submit the bill to parliament once it holds consultations with the Madhesi groups,” UCPN (Maoist) vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha said.
In an effort to put down an upsurge of violence in the anti-constitution protests, police on Sunday shot dead four Madhesi protestors blockading the East-West highway in the Terai region along the Nepal-India border.
“We were forced to open fire after the protestors set fire to a police station and pelted stones at the police force,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Bhim Dhakal said.
The Madhesi protestors have intensified their blockading of the mountainous country’s highways as talks with the government last week had not proved successful in addressing their 11-point charter of demands which includes redefining the boundaries of the seven provinces envisaged in the new constitution adopted on September 20.
The protestors burnt down a truck carrying medicines at the Nepal-India border on Saturday. Another truck carrying fuel to the land-locked Himalayan nation was also torched on the same day.
The Madhesi groups, including ethnic minorities in the region bordering southern neighbour India, have been agitating over Nepal’s new constitution which, according to them, was not broad-based and some of the provisions would politically marginalise them.
The unrest first began in the Madhes region, located along the India-Nepal border, almost three months ago when Nepal adopted a new constitution.
Madhes-based political parties that are spearheading the protests have demanded amendments in the new constitution.
According to the police, at least 50 protestors have been killed in police firing in the Terai region since the agitations began.
The blockades along the border have affected transit of goods and fuel to the land-locked Himalayan nation resulting in a scarcity of essential goods.
The situation has strained Nepal-India ties with Kathmandu accusing New Delhi of imposing an undeclared blockade along the international border. India denies the charge.