Five injured as flood victims, cops clash

Itahari, August 5:

Five persons were injured when flood victims and police clashed at the Inaruwa-based district administration office today. The clash ensued after flood victims attempted to enter the office of chief district officer Prem Narayan Sharma.

Two policemen, including a head constable, were injured after demonstrators pelted the police with stones. Three demonstrators sustained minor injuries in the ensuing police action, the coordinator of the flood victims’ agitation committee, Shyam Dev Meheta, said. Police opened two rounds of blank fire to control the mob after the clash. The district administration office remained tense after flood victims continued their demonstration all day long. The 500 demonstrators held a street corner meeting and a sit-in at the DAO since 1:00 pm, hemming in CDO Sharma and other staffers in the office for five hours.

The demonstrators demanded legal action against security personnel, compensation to the bereaved family of 70-year-old Kushmi Devi Sada who died in police action earlier, release of human rights activist Bhesh Raj Pokharel and a public apology from the CDO.

Hundreds of civil and armed police personnel were mobilised after a large number of demonstrators from Itahari, Dharan, Inaruwa and Biratnagar gheraoed the DAO.

The demonstrators also ransacked the DAO building. The situation did not go out of control due to the patience of the security personnel, said human rights activist DB Shah Shanker. Office-bearers of the flood victims’ agitation committee who went to hand over a memorandum held talks with the CDO for half an hour. It was decided in the meeting that rights activist Pokharel would be freed. Flood victims said their protest programme will continue tomorrow as well.

Meanwhile, the eight political parties rejected the CDO’s request to mediate in the matter. CPN-UML leader Khem Raj Pokharel said they rejected the CDO’s request because of the administrative action on July 1. District chairman of the Nepali Congress Ram Bahadur Basnet also said that the parties turned down the CDO’s request.