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Last Updated: May 20, 2007 - 10:48:48 AM
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Indian origin trader killed in Nepal violence
Jan 22, 2007 - 2:14:04 PM
Besides the sectarian violence, the kingdom is also reeling under an indefinite transport strike called by the bus owners after arsonists torched over 20 vehicles during the Terai trouble.

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[RxPG] Kathmandu, Jan 22 - A shopkeeper of Indian origin was killed in southern Nepal as violence and unrest continued to grip the Terai plains for the fourth day in a row.

Rajendra Chaudhari, a small-time trader, was killed in Sarlahi district near the Indian border Sunday evening while closing his shop and returning home. Reports said the assailants also looted about Nepali Rs.70,000 from the victim.

This is the second killing in the turbulent plains, inhabited by people of Indian origin, since Friday when a 17-year-old boy was killed during clashes between the Maoists and a group calling itself the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum.

Sectarian clashes between Nepal's elite hill community and Madhesis, who are people of Indian origin, have erupted since Christmas after a Madhesi party, a junior partner in the government, called a shutdown in the Terai region. They alleged that the new constitution has done nothing to resolve the exclusion of the community from government opportunities.

Since then, violence, looting and arson have been occurring in the southern districts with shops and vehicles being set on fire.

Forum activists Sunday torched over a dozen government offices in Lahan town in Siraha and the government imposed a daytime curfew to bring the situation under control.

The sudden violence fomenting hatred between the two groups is reminiscent of the riots that shook Nepalgunj town in midwestern Nepal after Christmas.

Both the government and Maoists have begun expressing fears that the supporters of King Gyanendra are trying to instigate violence.

Maoist leader Dev Gurung, nominated as a legislator by his party this month, told the media that royalists trying to protect King Gyanendra are stirring up trouble in the plains, taking advantage of genuine problems.

'These are people trying to stop Nepal from becoming a republic,' Gurung said. 'The chaos is aimed at stopping the elections from being held by June.'

Nepal's seven-party government, headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, has pledged to hold a constituent assembly election by June when an elected assembly will decide if the 238-year-old institution of monarchy should be retained or axed for a republic.

The king, who grew highly unpopular after seizing power through a bloodless coup two years ago, was stripped of all privileges by the new government formed after the fall of the royal regime.

A new constitution promulgated this month finally removed him as head of state and put monarchy in suspension till the June elections.

The flaring violence has alarmed Nepal's government as well as India. With the violence occurring across the border and involving people of Indian origin, New Delhi is monitoring the situation closely.

Besides the sectarian violence, the kingdom is also reeling under an indefinite transport strike called by the bus owners after arsonists torched over 20 vehicles during the Terai trouble.

The National Federation of Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs has called the strike to demand security and compensation. Called Sunday, the strike has forced all public buses and trucks to go off the road. Even the capital has been paralysed.

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