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Morcha calls off border strike

Monday, February 8th, 2016
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Although Madhesi Front called off its border-centric protests just today, cargo trucks had started crossing through Birganj-Raxaul border point on Friday itself. Photo: Jiyalal Sah

United Democratic Madhesi Front has finally called off its months-long general strike and border-centric protests.

A meeting of the Front on Monday also decided to allow government offices to operate without any disturbance in the Tarai. But the Front said its ‘struggle was not over’ and ‘will continue to fight for rights of Madhesi people’.

The Front has unveiled a series of fresh protests like signature campaign and torch rally in the Tarai. It said it would announce new protests later.

Although the Front officially withdrew its border-centric protests only on Monday, cargo trucks had started passing through the Birganj-Raxaul check-point on Friday itself.

Three days ago, the local traders had put fire to the tent and barricade set up by the Front on the Birganj-Raxaul border to choke off supply of fuel and other essentials to Nepal.

The Front had announced an indefinite strike in the Tarai in August of last year. But the Big Three parties pushed through the new constitution despite the Madhes unrest on 20 September. Three days later, and two days after India warned of disruption in supply, the Front decided to stage sit-ins at all border-points.

The Front failed to disrupt other border points, but the Birganj-Raxaul remained shut until last weekend.

Of late, the top Front leaders had been hinting at calling off border-centric protests. But Rajendra Mahato, believed to be a hardliner, was against this idea. But after returning from Bihar last week, Mahato said: “There is no point in just blocking Birganj if we cannot seal off other trade points.”

Mahato’s statement, dubbed by other top leaders of the Front as ‘irresponsible’, demoralised Madhesi protesters in Birganj, and local traders burnt down the barricade. Left with no other options, the Front had to call off its border-centric protests.

The Front has also asked Mahato to abstain from making statements that could harm the Madhes movement. Mahato, apparently unhappy with other leaders, did not sign on the statement issued by the Front.


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