Nepali police shot and killed a protester yesterday after fresh clashes erupted in the country’s southern plains, deepening the crisis over a new constitution, an official said.
Police opened fire when a crowd of about 1,500 demonstrators started throwing stones and bottles at the district police office in the town of Gaur in Rautahat district, 100km (60 miles) south of Kathmandu.
“The police fired in self-defence after the protesters became aggressive, and unfortunately one (protester) was killed,” district chief Narahari Baral said.
Baral said the protest in Gaur had escalated since Saturday and a curfew had now been
imposed in the area.
More than 50 people have been killed in clashes between police and people protesting against the constitution, which was introduced in September after a deadly earthquake pushed warring political parties to reach an agreement.
Demonstrators from the Madhesi ethnic minority, mainly from the southern plains, have been blockading the main Birgunj border crossing with India, saying the constitution leaves them politically
Nepal is heavily dependent on India for fuel and other supplies, but little cargo has crossed the border from India since the protests broke out.
The disruption has led to severe shortages in landlocked Nepal and prompted the government to accuse New Delhi — which has criticised the new constitution — of imposing an “unofficial blockade”.
New Delhi has denied the charge and urged Nepal to hold talks with the Madhesis, who share close cultural, linguistic and family links with Indians living across the border.
Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has warned that the blockade is having an impact “several times more than the quake” that struck in April.
But several rounds of talks between the government and the protesting parties have failed to reach an agreement.
The constitution, the first drawn up by elected representatives, was meant to cement peace and bolster Nepal’s transformation to a democratic republic after decades of political instability and a 10-year Maoist insurgency.
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