Nepal town tense af­ter protests kill child and seven po­lice

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Hun­dreds of se­cu­rity per­son­nel pa­trolled a tense town in western Nepal Tues­day af­ter an 18-mon­thold boy and seven po­lice died in vi­o­lent protests against a new con­sti­tu­tion.

The gov­ern­ment de­ployed the army and an­nounced an in­def­i­nite cur­few in parts of Kailali dis­trict, a day af­ter pro­tes­tors at­tacked po­lice with spears, axes and knives and also the home of a paramil­i­tary of­fi­cer, killing his son.

The boy’s fa­ther, Ne­tra Ba­hadur Saud, told AFP he was sit­ting on his porch when pro­tes­tors fired at him, killing his 18-month-old son.

“My son was play­ing in front of me, all of a sud­den I heard bullet fire,” Saud said.

“Within sec­onds my son fell to the ground with head in­juries ... I rushed him to hos­pi­tal but he was al­ready dead.

“The shoot­ers tar­geted me ... my son was in­no­cent. Why was he killed?” he said.

Anger has been build­ing for weeks in parts of Nepal af­ter law­mak­ers struck a break­through deal on a new con­sti­tu­tion, spurred by April’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.

The con­sti­tu­tion was meant to draw a line un­der cen­turies of in­equal­ity, but plans to di­vide the coun­try into seven prov­inces have sparked fury among his­tor­i­cally marginal­ized com­mu­ni­ties, who say the new borders will limit their po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

The latest clashes broke out in the town of Tika­pur, 420 kilo­me­ters west of Kathmandu, when ac­tivists from the Tharu eth­nic mi­nor­ity held a protest to de­mand their own sep­a­rate province.

The Tharus have strug­gled to over­come decades spent as bonded slaves to high-caste landown­ers.

Of­fi­cials in Kailali said more than 40 se­cu­rity of­fi­cers were wounded in Mon­day’s clashes, but gave no de­tails of ca­su­al­ties among the de­mon­stra­tors.

“The sit­u­a­tion is calm for now, hun­dreds of po­lice and army per­son­nel have been de­ployed in the area,” said Nepal po­lice spokesman Ka­mal Singh Bam.

“The death toll from yesterday’s street clashes is seven of­fi­cers,” Bam told AFP, re­vis­ing ear­lier fig­ures that counted eight fa­tal­i­ties among the se­cu­rity forces.

“Nepal’s gov­ern­ment is squarely to blame for its fail­ure to en­gage with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and ad­dress its con­cerns, which led to this hor­rific es­ca­la­tion,” said Brad Adams, Asia Di­rec­tor of Hu­man Rights Watch, in a state­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment needs to take im­me­di­ate steps to re­store or­der and pre­vent re­tal­i­a­tion by the po­lice.”

Dis­trict of­fi­cials said no fur­ther clashes were re­ported overnight.

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

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