THT 10 YEARS AGO: PM, Nepal, Prachanda discuss Madhes issues

Kathmandu, February 21, 2008

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala today held discussions with CPN-UML general secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal and Maoist chairman Prachanda at his official residence on addressing the issues raised by agitating Madhesi groups.

The three leaders have decided to hold a meeting of the seven-party alliance tomorrow to discuss the Madhesi issues. During their 30-minute meeting, Nepal and Prachanda told the Prime Minister that the State could not concede the demand of one Madhesh, one pradesh raised by the United Madhesi Democratic Front, an alliance of the Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum and Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Mahato).

“The State can show maximum flexibility the demands of the agitating Madhesi groups except the demand of one Madhes, one pradesh with the rights to self-determination,” sources quoted Nepal and Prachanda as telling the PM. Koirala is also against the demand of one Madhes, one pradhes.

In informal talks with the agitating Madhesi leaders on yesterday the PM’s envoys had agreed to change the election law that does not require a party to meet the legal provision of inclusiveness if it fields candidates up to 20 per cent of the total seats of the constituent assembly.

The Prime Minister’s envoys had assured them of increasing it from 20 to 30 per cent. If the Madhesi groups agree to this formula, the cabinet would change the election law through an ordinance, as it is not possible right now to call a meeting of the parliament.

Sixty injured in Tarai clashes

Siraha, February 21, 2008

Sixty persons were injured, over 100 arrested and 30 buses were vandalised while life remained crippled and curfew remained in force in six districts of the Tarai region on the ninth day of the indefinite United Democratic Madhes Front (UMDF) bandh.

Hill districts adjoining the Tarai districts were also affected. Curfew was imposed in headquarters Siraha and Lahan municipality of Siraha district, Inaruwa and the Mahendra highway section in Sunsari district, Biratnagar of Morang district, Nepalgunj of Banke district and in Parsa district. Curfew is in force in Siraha and Lahan since yesterday with a relaxation from 5 to 9 am.

Police arrested five persons after agitators felled trees and placed them across the Siraha-Chauharwa road at Laxmipur. The Morang district administration clamped indefinite curfew after tension mounted at the Mahabir chowk of Biratnagar.

Curfew is in force from Bargachhi to the Roadshesh chowk of Biratnagar from 5 pm. Police manhandled journalist Baijnath Gupta while he was taking snapshots at Mahabir chowk. Madhesi Janadhikar Forum Morang president Jay Ram Yadav was injured in a clash between agitators and police.