Protests hit first day of Nepal’s opinion collection

Kathmandu, July 20 (IANS) The first day of the two-day public consultation campaign on the preliminary draft of the new constitution saw overwhelming participation across the Tarai region on Monday, despite many incidents of disruption and vandalism in which scores of people were injured.

At least 40 people were injured when agitating cadres of Madhesh-based parties clashed with police in Janakpur.

A delegation of lawmakers led by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat was attacked by a mob which hurled a bomb while they were on their way to Nuwakot constituency to gather public opinion on the preliminary draft of the new constitution, according to media reports.

Cadres of the Madhesi Morcha, Mohan Baidya-led CPN-Maoist and Matrika Yadav-led Maoist Party pelted stones at UCPN-Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ during a programme organised to assess public opinion at a school in Mirchaiya in Siraha district.

Scores of people were injured in a clash between police and political workers after the incident, police said in Mirchaiya.

In Biratnagar, the consultation was hampered by cadres of Madhesh-based political parties who disrupted the programme by shouting slogans against the constitution.

Consultation in Mornag was affected after CPN-UML cadres said they did not receive enough copies of the draft.

They also demanded that the consultation be held in open places.

Chairs and stones were hurled at UML leader and former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal by political workers in Gaur municipality of Rauthat district.

According to media reports, two clashes were reported in Saptari where at least two people, including a police constable, were injured.

Protesters obstructed traffic along the East-West Highway, that led to hundreds of travellers being stranded.

Workers of Madhesh-based parties also disrupted the public opinion meeting in Mahottari district.

Madhesi cadres vandalised a district development committee assembly hall in Jaleshwor. The podium and public address system were destroyed. The political workers were chased away by security personnel.

An alliance of Madhesh-based parties, the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, has called for a general strike on Tuesday, accusing the government of being “atrocious” in Tarai during the collection of opinion.

In a statement issued on Monday, four parties affiliated to the Madhesi Morcha called for the strike in Tarai region.

The front also demanded the release of its cadres arrested on Monday while staging protests, and demanded free treatment to its injured cadres.

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