Madhesis on the warpath again

Simmering tension:Madhesi protesters pelting policemen in Birgunj with stones during last year’s protests.— File Photo: AP  

Madhesi protesters under the leadership of the United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF) of Nepal declared on Friday that they would start a new round of agitation and enforce a blockade on the capital Kathmandu.

The protest comes three months after the end of a crippling economic blockade that the UMDF had launched demanding citizenship rights for the Madhesis of Nepal.

“Since our last declaration in February, the government of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has done nothing to address the democratic aspirations of the Madhesi people. Our new protest will begin with a rally on Saturday and from Sunday, we will [enforce] blockade on the government headquarters,” Upendra Yadav, one of the key leaders of the UMDF, told The Hindu on the phone from Kathmandu.

“We will not let the government function unless it carries out amendments to the Nepali Constitution guaranteeing citizenship rights.”

China card

The aim of the protest, Mr. Yadav said, was to expose the government of Mr. Oli. “Prime Minister Oli declared that the new Constitution will be amended, but he did not take the promised steps. Instead, he has been blackmailing India by showing the China card because India has supported the amendments.”

Friday’s declaration of protest was made exactly a week after Nepal cancelled the visit of President Bidhya Devi Bhandari to India and recalled its ambassador.