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Protests under fire

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Local traders on Friday burnt down the tent set up by Madhesi protesters nearly five months ago to block the Birganj-Raxaul border point.

Traders from the Nepali town of Birganj and the Indian town of Raxaul also set fire to bamboo barricades over the Miteri bridge, where Madhesi protesters had been staging a sit-in since September of last year.

Madhesi protesters have now backed off from the bridge, and three-wheelers and carts laden with goods are passing through the border point. However, heavy trucks are still stranded on the Indian side of the border.

Local traders had chased away protesters from the bridge last week, too. But protesters regrouped and recaptured the bridge. Even this time, Madhesi protesters are trying to erect another tent and barricade on the bridge, choking off supplies of fuel and other essential commodities to Nepal.

Indian customs officials in Raxaul have refused to cooperate with Nepali traders, citing the obstruction created by Madhesi protesters.

However, top Madhesi leaders have admitted that they failed to create pressure on the government by blocking the Birganj trade point and are likely to review their strategy.

After returning from the Indian state of Bihar where he met Indian leaders, including Lalu Prasad Yadav, Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahato said on Thursday: “We inflicted pain on ordinary people by blocking the Birganj border, and we should now change our form of agitation.”

A meeting of the Madhesi Front is expected to take a formal decision on whether or not to continue protests within a few days.

The Front, a coalition of four Madhes-based parties, had started sit-ins at all Nepal-India check-points from 23 September of last year. The Front failed to continue its border-centric protests elsewhere, but the blockading of the Birganj point continues.

The Front is against Nepal’s new constitution, which was promulgated by an elected assembly on 20 September 2015. To address Madhesi demands for proportional representation, Parliament has already amended the constitution. But the Front is still demanding only two Madhes provinces encompassing the whole Tarai region.

India, which has overtly supported the Madhes movement, has ‘regarded’ the amendment but is still putting pressure on Nepal’s major political parties to solve ‘outstanding issues’ through political negotiations.

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2 Responses to “Protests under fire”

  1. Ragh Nath Mishra on Says:

    Why should we have only two madhes provinces? There were 14 zones during the Panchayat Period and that should be converted to 14 provinces or there are 75 districts so the easy solution is to convert them to 75 provinces so that the majority of the ethnic groups are involved in governance of the country. This is more logical from a layman’s point of view. Our leaders only want to complicate things and benefit from it. Was it necessary to take 7 years to make a constitution and create havoc in the country. Instead of spending time on this they should have focused on development issues in the country like water and hydro power.

  2. Ashish kauahik on Says:

    The only solution to all the outstanding issues in Nepal is merger with India. Look at India’s economy. It has become a superpower and Nepal’s future is safe and secure with India.

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