Police in Nepal on Monday opened fire at Madhesi activists protesting against the newly- unveiled Constitution, injuring three persons in a town bordering India, even as the Prime Minister invited the agitating groups for talks.
Cadres of Joint Madhesi Front held demonstrations in several places, a day after President Ram Baran Yadav promulgated Nepal’s new Constitution that marked the country’s transition into a fully secular and democratic republic.
At least three people sustained injuries when police opened fire to contain the agitating cadres in Biratnagar, a sub metropolitan municipality and second largest city of Nepal after Kathmandu.
“The injured are undergoing treatment at a local hospital,” police said.
In Siraha district, the agitators burnt the copies of the new Constitution.
Life has been severely affected in the country due to the month-long agitation by the Madhesi Front and Tharuwan Struggle Committee in southern and some parts of western Nepal. They have been protesting against federating the country in seven province.
Meanwhile, three major political parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist — organised a joint public meeting at Tundikhel Open Ground in the capital today to mark the historic occasion of promulgation of the Constitution.
Prime Minister and Nepali Congress President Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, addressed the public meeting attended by tens of thousands of people.
Koirala urged all to come to the negotiating table to get their concerns addressed.
He said that the country should now move toward socio- economic development.
“We have to drive the country to economic prosperity through unity,” he said.
Addressing the gathering, UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda said the promulgating of the new Constitution has heralded a new era in the history of Nepal.
“The sacrifices and struggles of thousands of people made it possible,” he said.
“Proportionate representation, secularism, federalism and religious freedom are new features of the Constitution,” he said and stressed on the need for all the Nepalese people to shoulder the high responsibility of protecting, enhancing and implementing the document.
Prachanda said that demands regarding citizenship, proportional representations among others of Madhesh have been addressed, adding that grievances over demarcation can be settled through talks.
“Come to table for talks,” Prachanda said referring to Madhesi parties.
“We will definitely address genuine demands,” he said.
Oli, CPN-UML chairman, asked countrymen to celebrate the promulgation of the Constitution.
“There are no reasons for people from any areas to be sad at this moment,” he said.
He said that genuine demands of the disgruntled groups will be addressed through talks.
“It is a purely democratic Constitution,” he said, adding “It has institutionalised republicanism.”
Koirala on the occasion remembered leading figures of democratic movements including Ganeshman Singh, BP Koirala, Pushpa Lal Shrestha, Girija Prasad Koirala among others.
Madhesis and the Tharu ethnic communities in southern Nepal and some western districts are opposed to the new Constitution as they believe it has failed to address concerns raised by them.
India, that sent Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy to urge top Nepalese leadership to address concerns of all sides, had expressed concern over the ongoing violence.
Extending best wishes to the people of Nepal, India yesterday said, “Throughout the process of Constitution-making in Nepal, India has supported a federal, democratic, republican and inclusive Constitution.”
“We are concerned that the situation in several parts of the country bordering India continues to be violent. Our Ambassador in Kathmandu has spoken to the Prime Minister of Nepal in this regard,” the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi had said.
It had urged that issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and institutionalised in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance.