Protester killed in police firing

Rajbiraj, August 18

A demonstrator was killed and five others injured when the police opened fire on protesters during an indefinite Madhes bandh at Saptari’s Bhardaha today.

Rajiv Kumar Raut, 30, from Bhardaha was killed when the police opened fire to disperse demonstrators who were clashing with cops. Raut succumbed to injuries while being rushed to a hospital in Dharan, Saptari CDO Birendra Kumar Yadav told THT.

Dev Narayan Biswas, 40, Surendra Mandal, 39, Apak Sah,14, Satya Narayan Raut, 17, and Gopal Mandal, 20, from Bhardaha were injured in police firing and are being treated in hospitals in Dharan and Biratnagar.

Four police personnel and more than 12 protesters, including Federal Socialist Party Forum-Nepal’s central member Sailendra Sah, were injured during clashes. The Joint Democratic Madhesi Front had enforced indefinite Tarai Madhes bandh against six-province federal model, seeking one-Madhes-one-Pradesh and scrapping of constitution charter yesterday.

Cadres and leaders of Federal Socialist Party-Nepal, National Madhes Socialist Party and Tarai Madhes Party had erected tents on Bhardaha road section along the East-West Highway to make bandh a success. Clashes erupted when the police tried to remove the protesters from the highway to facilitate vehicular movement. To disperse the protesters, police fired 60 tear gas shells and 50 shots in the air. Superintendent of Police Sishir Karmacharya at the Saptari District Police Office claimed that police had to shoot at protesters in self-defence.

CDO Yadav backed police claim that they had to open fire in self-defence after the protest went out of control. Organising a press meet at his office, Yadav said DAO had clamped curfew in Bhardaha and in a periphery of 500 metres around it from 4:00pm to 5:00am.

Agitators, however, accused the police of opening fire to suppress the protest. They threatened to intensify their agitation. Following the incident, demonstrators torched one motorcycle in Rajbiraj, set ablaze an APF beat at Koshi barrage and another at Bishhariya.

A meeting of the Joint Democratic Madhesi Front held in Saptari put forth a charter of demands, including a probe into the incident, martyr’s status for the deceased, compensation for the victim’s family and free treatment of those injured.

During today’s bandh, five persons were injured in Kapilvastu’s Taulihawa after the demonstrators clashed with police. Kapilvastu DAO said police had to use force to bring the situation under control after bandh enforcers resorted to vandalism and arson. Police had to fire tear gas shells and blank shots to bring the situation under control. In Siraha’s Mirchaiya, bandh organisers sat on the streets and continued their agitation throughout the day.

Home minister asked to clarify

KATHMANDU: Speaker of Legislature Parliament Subas Chandra Nembang on Tuesday asked Home Minister Bamdev Gautam to answer the queries raised by several lawmakers in the House regarding police firing and baton-charge in Saptari. After several lawmakers raised questions over the police action in Bhardaha in Saptari district Nembang asked the home minister to clarify government’s stance on the incident. Addressing the meeting, Co-chairman of Sadbhawana Party Laxman Lal Karna asked, “What crime have the people of Saptari committed that the police had to shoot at their heads?”

Another lawmaker, Ganga Prasad Yadav, said the government should stop suppression of people’s struggle and should declare Rajiv Raut, who was killed in police firing on Tuesday, a martyr.