Madhesi protesters to picket Nepal PM’s residence

Kathmandu, May 16 (IANS) An alliance of Madhesis and Janajatis on Monday declared they will picket Prime Minister K.P. Sharna Oli’s residence on Tuesday to press their demand for greater representation in the new constitution as around two dozen protesters were injured in clashes with police here on the second day of their renewed stir.

The announcement by the Sanghiya Gathabandhan came as Prime Minister Oli warned protesters that the government “will not tolerate” a standoff in the capital and reiterated his call for talks.

A meeting of the alliance — which comprises of 29 Madhesi and Janajati parties and groups — here decided to picket the prime minister’s residence on Tuesday.

The alliance picketed Singha Durbar, the key administrative complex of Nepal, on Sunday and Monday to protest against the constitution that they say seeks to further discriminate against marginalised and excluded communities.

“It is the right of citizens to hold a peaceful protest, but in the name of protest the general public should not suffer,” said Oli at a function in Kathmandu on Monday, adding that the government “will not tolerate” if there is increasing trouble to the people.

The protest led to massive traffic jams on Sunday and Monday.

“We need to change the form and place of the agitation,” the alliance said in a press statement while giving the reason for the change in venue.

The prime minister’s residence at Baluwatar is some three km from Singha Durbar, where the Prime Minister’s Office is located.

The alliance held protests around Singha Durbar on Monday.

Huge deployment of security personnel was present to foil the protest, including riot control squad, for possible confrontation.

At least two dozen protesters were injured in Monday’s clash between protesters and policemen while two protesters are admitted in the Trauma Hospital for treatment.

“Picketing the prime minister’s residence will be more effective than picketing Singha Durbar,” said Mahesh Chaurasiya, a Madhesi leader.

Their key demands include making more broad-based and inclusive the new constitution, promulgated in September last year, so that the rights of the marginalised communities can be addressed.

They also want demarcation of the seven federal units to be changed in order to make it accommodative as per the demands of Madhesis, Janajatis and other disgruntled factions.

The protesters chanted slogans that they will not accept the seven federal province model at any cost and called for Oli’s resignation.

Top Madhesi leaders Upendra Yadav and Rajendra Mahato are leading two separate protests at key gateways to Singha Durbar.

Madhesi parties, which imposed a blockade at the key Nepal-India entry points for six months in order to press the government to address their demands, have decided to focus their stir in Kathmandu this time in order to make the Oli-led government accede to their demands.

Oli has opted for a hardline approach towards the Madhesi and Janajati demands, but claimed that he was ready to resolve the crisis and political standoff through talks.

During their six-month protest, that ended in February, 59 people including police personnel were killed.

Around 36 rounds of talks have been held between the government and the agitating Madhesis and Janajatis but there has been no headway so far.

(Anil Giri can be reached at girianil@gmail.com)

–IANS

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