Nepal's Terai tense, curfew imposed in Madhes area

Indo Asian News Service

Kathmandu, March 7 (IANS) Curfew was imposed in Nepal's Terai and Madhes regions on Tuesday in view of the prevailing tension there since the death of three Madhesi Morcha cadres in a clash between security forces on the previous day.

Sporadic protests and demonstrations took place in several parts of Nepal's southern region on Tuesday in reaction to the deaths. An alliance of Madhes-based parties has called for a two-day strike to protest against the killings.

Public transport, factories, industries and educational institutions were badly hit, as irate Morcha cadres held demonstrations and burned tyres in Rajbiraj -- the headquarters of Saptari district. Markets in Bhardaha, Kanchanpur, Rupani and Kalyanpur areas remained shut during the day.

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets and chanted slogans demanding compensation to the kin of the deceased, medical treatment to the injured, declaration of the deceased as martyrs and action against the guilty.

They vandalised the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) [CPN-UML] regional office at Lahan Municipality-1, gheraoed Saptari District Administration Office (DAO), ransacked Rajbiraj Municipality and Nepal Telecom office, and also damaged a National Human Rights Commission vehicle, police said.

In view of the violent protests, security has been beefed up at the District Court, DAO, District Police Office and the District Land Revenue Office.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', meanwhile, called a meeting of Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and security chiefs and urged them to exercise restraint while using force.

After the meeting, the Home Minister called the Chief District Officer and local security chiefs of Saptari district to the national capital for clarification.

"I am really saddened by the tragic incident that took place in Saptari. The government will pay compensation to the deceased and bear all costs incurred on the treatment of the injured," said Prime Minister Prachanda.

Three Morcha cadres died and at least two dozen were injured in police firing on Monday when the alliance of the Madhes-based parties attempted to disrupt the Mechi-Mahakali campaign of the second-largest party, CPN-UML, in the Rajbiraj industrial zone.

As tension grew, the Saptari administration clamped curfew in Rajbiraj.

According to the Morcha, seven of the injured demonstrators were in critical condition. They were undergoing treatment at the Dharan-based B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, while others were being treated at the Gajendra Narayan Singh Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital in Rajbiraj.

Meanwhile, the main opposition CPN-UML at a press conference in Kathmandu on Tuesday alleged that the attack on their office was a plot to kill all the top leaders of the party.

The Monday clashes took place immediately after the top CPN-UML leadership concluded a mass meeting.