U.N. delegation meets Nepal’s Madhesi protesters

Kathmandu, Jan.15 (ANI):A two-member United Nations (UN) delegation met Nepal’s Madhesi leaders on Friday, as the ethnic community continued its protest over alleged discrimination in the newly adopted Constitution.

The U.N. delegates, accompanied by a guide, visited the border area near India’s Raxaul District and met hundreds of slogan-shouting protesters.

Madhesis have been protesting at border crossings with India to demand equal rights for their community after rejecting a government plan which they said did not meet their call for a redrawing of internal boundaries or offer adequate national representation.

The guide, who was also a translator for the U.N. delegates, said that the officials were shocked to see the situation of the Madhesis.

“They are here to examine the present situation as to why the people are protesting and understand their problems,” said the guide.

About 50 people have been killed in police shooting and arson attacks by protesters who are demanding that the entire southern plains region, Nepal’s breadbasket and business hub, not be split into more than two provinces as the government plan envisages.

The government had said last month it would task a panel to settle internal boundaries of federal provinces on the basis of political consensus within three months.

Many Madhesis have close linguistic and cultural bonds with Indians across the border.

The landlocked Himalayan nation, which serves as a natural buffer between China and India, adopted its first post-monarchy constitution in September 2015, hoping this would usher in peace and stability after years of conflict.

For the last few months protesters have blocked trucks coming in from neighbouring India, leading to acute shortages of fuel and medicine. Nepal blames New Delhi for siding with the protesters, a charge India denies.

India, an influential neighbour and traditional supplier of the bulk of essential goods, says the latest offer on the constitution could create a basis for the resolution of the problem. (ANI)

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