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Nepal police shoot dead 2 Madhesis in fresh clashes

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The violence came a day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is "alarmed" over obstruction and destruction of medical supplies to Nepal due to the ongoing blockade.

Nepal police shot and killed two Indian-origin Madhesis participating in a blockade of a key highway in the volatile southern plains over the new Constitution, officials said on Sunday, as violence returned to the country reeling under acute shortage of essential goods.

An indefinite curfew was today clamped down in Saptari district, some 280 km southeast of the capital, after police firing killed two protesters blocking the East—West Highway late Saturday night.

Police said they resorted to firing after the nearly 2,500—strong crowd attacked them with petrol bombs and bricks when they tried to forcibly remove cadres of United Democratic Madhesi Front blocking the nation’s main highway.

Two Madhesis, Birendra Ram and Nageshwor Yadav, were killed during violent clashes between the agitators and the security personnel, who were escorting vehicles carrying passengers.

The fresh clashes injured as many as 17 protesters and 25 police personnel, of whom five protesters and two policemen are said to be in serious condition.

The protesters started pelting stones at the security personnel which led to the clashes, Saptari District Police Office Chief Bhim Dhakal said.

“We had to use force to disperse the mob of protesters after they inadvertently started attacking the security personnel with homemade weapons,” Mr. Dhakal was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

The violence comes as the Himalayan nation, which is heavily dependent on India for supplies of essential goods, continues to reel under acute shortage of fuels, medicines and other items for over two months now.

Nepal was limping to normalcy after the devastating April 25 quake but has been hit by the blockade led by Madhesis, the Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region protesting against division of their ancestral homeland into seven provinces in the new Constitution.

Over 40 people have been killed in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation has been badly affected.

The violence came a day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is “alarmed” over obstruction and destruction of medical supplies to Nepal due to the ongoing blockade of key border trade points with India and called on all sides to resolve differences through dialogue.

Madhesi protesters in Nepal on Friday had torched an ambulance and a truck carrying medicines worth over Rs two million imported from India near the border.

Nepal has turned to China for fuel, ending India’s monopoly over the supplies to the landlocked Himalayan nation, and is set to seal its first oil trade deal with Beijing that has pledged to provide the petroleum products at an affordable price.

Nepal has also accused India of siding with the protesters, a charge New Delhi denies.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 6:50:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/nepal-police-shoot-dead-2-madhesis-in-fresh-clashes/article7905538.ece

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