Terai turmoil to hit Kathmandu now
Mar 12, 2007 - 6:43:30 PM
Kathmandu, March 12 - As violence spread to more areas in Nepal Monday, ethnic protesters fighting for an autonomous state said they would take the battle to the capital and encircle the prime minister's office -.
The Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, a little-known group that shot into prominence this year when it began a protest programme in the Terai plains demanding equal rights for the plains community, Monday said it was suspending its week-long closure of 22 plains districts and beginning a new agitation concentrating on blockades.
'From Tuesday, we will close all the entry points between India and Nepal,' Forum chief Upendra Yadav said at a press conference in the capital even as his supporters clashed with unidentified groups in Inaruwa town in Sunsari, his home district.
Most of the main entry points between India and Nepal - Nepalgunj, Birgunj, Janakpur, Kakarbhitta - have remained paralysed since February, when the Forum began a trading point blockade as well as a transport strike in the Terai.
Besides blockading customs offices on the Indo-Nepal border, protesters from Tuesday will padlock all government offices in the headquarters of the 22 Terai districts, Yadav said.
These will include revenue, electricity and telecom offices. People will be asked not to make any payments.
On March 29, tens of thousands of plains people would surround Singh Durbar - heart of the administration where the PMO, key ministries and parliament are located.
The new strategy comes even as the curfew was imposed in Inaruwa from noon after clashes between Forum activists and unidentified groups, alleged to include Maoists.
Yadav said the house and medical shop of the district Forum chief S.N. Mehta had been set on fire and houses of other plains people attacked.
Curfew was clamped in Dang district last week after clashes and arson.
The government says it has heeded the Forum demand for a federal government and has amended the newly implemented constitution to add the provision.
However, the Forum is pressing for the resignation of Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, holding him morally responsible for the death of at least 32 people during the protests.
They also want the formation of a commission to bring to justice the officials and Maoist cadres responsible for the deaths.
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, however, has ruled out sacking Sitaula, who also enjoys the support of the Maoists.
'If resignations will resolve the problem, I am ready to resign,' Koirala said last week.
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