ITAHARI: Tension escalated in Itahari and its adjoining areas throughout the day today after local residents began their indefinite general strike demanding the construction of a regional stadium here.
Sporadic clashes between the protesters and police personnel also occurred at several places during the bandh. At least 15 protesters and five policemen were injured in the scuffle.
The irate demonstrators also torched two vehicles and vandalised more the 65 vehicles.
According to Rabin Gautam, secretary of the struggle committee, which has been formed to exert pressure on the government to take decision in their favour, the police attacked the locals suddenly at 11 am when they were enforcing the bandh. He said that more than 15 demonstrators were injured in the police action.
Critically injured Rabin Dahal and Amrit Puri are undergoing treatment at a local health facility. Gautam said that Tirtha Pradhan, Ramu Pokharel, Bhim Subedim, Tirtha Parajuli, Rewati Dulal, Ishwori Parajuli were among those injured as police baton-charged them.
Surendra Subedi, Inspector at Area Police Office Itahari, said that five police personnel were also injured after the demonstrators pelted stones at them.
The locals, who were staging peaceful agitation, turned furious after the police forcibly tried to clear the highway. According to police, the agitators torched a bus heading to Kakarbhitta from Dharan at Halgada Chowk of Itahari and a micro bus at Dulari of Morang. The demonstrators felled trees to obstruct the highway at various points and at the four entry points of Itahari.
Sunsari SP Rajendraman Shrestha informed that they were compelled to use force after the demonstrators started vandalising and torching vehicles. More than 200 riot police personnel were deployed to take the situation under control.
CDO Hari Krishna Upadhyaya said that the administration used force as the demonstrators violated the rule by obstructing the highway. "The administration won't allow anyone to obstruct the highway at any cost.''
A meeting of the struggle committee, which was held later, decided to intensify their protests and also to give continuation to the general strike.
After the government announced to build a regional stadium in Sunsari district in this fiscal, the denizens of Itahari have been demanding it be constructed in their area. While, local residents of Dharan and Inaruwa are also demanding the same.