Violence broke out in the mountainous, earthquke-prone country of Nepal on Monday during a protest against current plans to establish state boundaries. Nepal, which borders India and Nepal, has been struggling to write and approve a new constitution since the country’s long monarchy ended in 2008.
Several media sources are reporting that eight people were killed in Nepal in a violent protest by members of a local ethnic group upset with the government plans to set state borders in the country.
Apparently at least seven policemen and a two-year-old child died after hundreds of people from the Tharu ethnic group undertook a protest that turned violent Monday afternoon. They were upset about the proposed new constitution, and want the new state borders be drawn such that they can control their own state.
In a shocking throwback to the 19th century, Tharu protesters with axes, spears and sticks surrounded police and attacked them in the rural community of Tikapur in far western Nepal, acccording to Rajkumar Shrestha, the chief district officer.
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“Seven policemen and a child have been confirmed dead,” Shrestha noted. He went on to say that close to 40 other people had been injured injured.
The BBC is reporting that one man was burned alive.
Moreover, the Nepal protest is apparently spreading, as Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam said armed protesters in two other districts in southern Nepal had also been attacking government buildings. The authorities have called out army troops to keep the peace in those areas, the minister said in a speech to Nepal’s Constituent Assembly early on Tuesday.
Nepal protest is about new constitution and drawing state boundaries
The series of protests burst out in the southern part of the country after the final draft of Nepal’s new constitution (which included plans to split the country into seven states) was offered to the Constituent Assembly on Sunday.
After long and arduous negotiations, the various political parties had recently come to an agreement to subdivide the country into states on the basis of ethnicity and economic ties. However, a number of smaller political parties representing smaller ethnic groups were extremely unhappy with the planned number of states and borders. Many of the smaller groups such as the Tharu are concerned that their was being divided up in a way that would not protect their interests.
Native groups like the Tharus argue the current plans for drawing state boundaries are not tolerable as they simply perpetuate the control of upper caste groups.
Hridayesh Tripathi, a senior political leader from the country’s southern plains, offered his take on the cause for the the violent protests: “The main reason for today’s sad incident is the haphazard way the major political parties have made the new states.”
“The possibility of including everybody’s demands in the constitution hasn’t ended,” Prime Minister Sushil Koirala noted via his official Twitter account. “I urge everybody to come to negotiations for a peaceful solution.”
Of note, before the Nepal protests broke out, the larger political parties has said they were working to finalize the new constitution within just a few weeks.