UDMF says 'meaning of talks now over' after Birgunj tension

KATHMANDU: Strongly protesting the use of force against the protesters by police in Birgunj, the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) on Monday announced that the essence of talks with the government has ended.

The UDMF made the announcement after Birgunj, the district headquarters of Parsa district, bordering India, witnessed violent protests  after police cracked down on its cadres and supporters, who had been staging a sit-in protest at the Nepal-India border for the past 39 days, to let over 200 Indian vehicles that were stranded on the Nepali side to go to Raxaul of India earlier this morning.  A person, who was later identified as an Indian national, was killed in police firing  near the Shankaracharya Dwar, the iconic gate to enter Nepal from India later in the afternoon. 

Organising a press conference here in the Capital this afternoon, UDMF leaders charged that the government botched up the positive environment recently created for the resolution of Madhes issues, by mobilising police to intervene in protests in Birgunj today.

Tension ran high in Birgunj since Monday morning after police removed the protesters from the no-man's land in a bid to resume vehicular mobility across the border, which was obstructed in the wake of promulgation of new Constitution.

"United Democratic Madhesi Front is strongly concerned over the extreme inhuman suppression in the early morning today at the border area in Birgunj," a press statement issued at the conference read, "The government seems eager to extremely quell (our protests) by using the dialogue as just a strategy."

For the last few days, the government was preparing to end the protests by the means of suppression and mobilise army again, it claimed.

Speaking at the press conference, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Vice-Chairman Hridayesh Tripathi and Sadbhawana Party Co-Chairman Laxman Lal Karna said the government did not appear serious toward continuing the talks.

"What we have understood is Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Home Minister Shakti Basnet have taken up suppression strategy," Tripathi, who is a member of the UDMF talks team said.

"Today's incident has already made the  talks purposeless," he added.

"Now, this situation may lead to ethnic confrontations," Karna warned, "The government should take responsibility of any consequence."

Karna informed that the UDMF had asked the UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a key leader of the ruling coalition, to take the situation under control immediately, after the death of a youth, who has been identified as a resident of Raxual.

"But the government clamped an indefinite curfew in the city," the Madhesi leader explained, "And, that means that the government may kill more people."

"Now, there is no meaning of sitting for talks," added Tripathi.

The UDMF and the government talks team had held the last round of talks on Sunday and both sides had claimed that the progress was positive as the government negotiators were ready to revise boundaries of federal units as demanded by the agitating Madhesi parties.

Hundreds of cargo vehicles have been stranded in Raxaul on the Indian side after the major transit point between Nepal and India was obstructed by the agitating UDMF for about six weeks.


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