Nepal po­lice ar­rest dozens in anti-con­sti­tu­tion protests

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Nepal po­lice on Mon­day ar­rested dozens of pro­tes­tors against a pro­posed new con­sti­tu­tion af­ter they at­tacked ve­hi­cles and forced shops to close on the sec­ond day of a na­tion­wide strike.

The shut­down was called to protest plans to re­struc­ture Nepal as a fed­eral state com­pris­ing six prov­inces, with op­po­si­tion par­ties say­ing the new in­ter­nal borders dis­crim­i­nate against his­tor­i­cally marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

Po­lice spokesman Ka­mal Singh Bam said 82 peo­ple had been ar­rested “for try­ing to en­force the strike by forc­ing shops to shut down and for van­dal­iz­ing seven ve­hi­cles.”

Pro­tes­tors de­fied an in­def­i­nite cur­few im­posed overnight in Jumla dis­trict in Nepal’s mid­west, tak­ing to the streets to de­mand a sep­a­rate province as po­lice ba­ton-charged de­mon­stra­tors.

“Small groups are still sneak­ing out to van­dal­ize and torch gov­ern­ment build­ings,” said Jumla po­lice chief, Bishnu Hari Koirala.

“The sit­u­a­tion is not yet un­der con­trol.”

In neigh­bor­ing Mugu

dis­trict, where many also sup­port the call for a sep­a­rate mid­west­ern province, clashes erupted be­tween se­cu­rity forces and pro­tes­tors try­ing to van­dal­ize gov­ern­ment of­fices, lo­cal po­lice said.

Work on the con­sti­tu­tion be­gan in 2008, two years af­ter the end of a decade-long Maoist in­sur­gency, which left an es­ti­mated 16,000 peo­ple dead and brought down a 240-year-old Hindu monar­chy.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions fal­tered on the is­sue of in­ter­nal borders and law­mak­ers only reached agree­ment af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in April.

But the plans are op­posed by many in Nepal’s mid­west and south­ern plains, where hun­dreds staged vi­o­lent protests over the long- awaited con­sti­tu­tion last week. Two peo­ple were killed when po­lice opened fire on de­mon­stra­tors.

The strike was called by the CPN- Maoists, a break­away fac­tion of the Maoist party, and by par­ties rep­re­sent­ing mi­nor­ity groups.

“Our de­mand is that they should can­cel this anti- peo­ple draft and write a con­sti­tu­tion that re­flects the peo­ple’s as­pi­ra­tions and de­mands,” Pam­pha Bhusal, spokes­woman for the CPN-Maoists, told AFP.

Many Nepalis ex­pressed frus­tra­tion over the strike and its im­pact on liveli­hoods al­ready dev­as­tated by April’s quake that killed nearly 8,900 peo­ple.

“I can’t shut down my busi­ness ev­ery time some­one de­cides to call a strike,” said Min Ba­hadur Karki, who owns a hard­ware store in the cap­i­tal.

“Ev­ery­one has their own in­ter­ests, there is no way the con­sti­tu­tion will sat­isfy all of them,” Karki told AFP.

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