Kathmandu: Indian-origin Madhesi protesters in Nepal on Friday torched an ambulance and a truck carrying medicines worth over Rs two million imported from India near the border as sporadic violence returned to the Himalayan nation amid a political logjam over the new Constititution.
The truck with medicines was torched by the cadres of the agitating Joint Democratic Madhesi Front (JDMF) close to the Indian border town of Raxaul, despite an assurance by the protesters that they would allow vehicles to move into Nepal.
Nepal is facing a huge shortage of medicines and other essential goods due to a two-month-long agitation by the Madhesis in the Terai region, the police said.
The agitators hurled a petrol bomb on the vehicle in the Birgunj Municipality area of Parsa district last night as the vehicle headed towards Janakpur, a southern Nepal town, the police said.
The fire that erupted in the truck destroyed the medicines imported from India worth more than Rs two million.
On Thursday, the JDMF had issued a statement that they would allow movement of medicine-laden vehicles and would let the schools in southern Nepal function normally.
Meanwhile, the cadres of the agitating Madhesi Front also set an ambulance on fire, in Morang in eastern Nepal.
The vehicle was ferrying a sick child to a local hospital in district headquarters Biratnagar.
The child sustained injuries but is now safe, police said.
Police have arrested eight members of the agitating Madhesi parties for their alleged involvement in the incident.
Nepal has been hit by a major political crisis over the new Constitution opposed by Indian-origin Madhesis who have led an agitation and blockaded at key border trade points of Nepal with India, leading to a shortage of essential goods including fuel and cooking gas.
Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region, are protesting against division of their ancestral homeland into seven provices in the new Constitution.
More than 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India has been badly affected.
The agitation by Madhesi groups has paralysed normal life across Nepal while the dearth of medicines has put lives of patients at stake.
Nepal is facing acute shortage of fuel, medicine and other essential supplies due to the blockade amid protests by Indian-origin Madhesi people who are opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces in the new Constitution.
As Nepal reels under severe shortage of medicines and other essential goods due to blockade of key trade points, India today said it was ready to facilitate rerouting of vehicles carrying drugs to the landlocked country and even airlifting medical supplies.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup reiterated that there has been “no blockade” by India and the problem was political in nature which has to be resolved by the Nepalese leadership through dialogue. He said India has conveyed to Nepal that it was “ready to facilitate rerouting of vehicles carrying medicines. We are also ready to facilitate airlift. Nepalese importers of medicines are also advised to use those border crossings where there is no protest and disruptions in supply”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nepal is facing acute shortage of fuel, medicine and other essential supplies due to the blockade amid protests by Indian-origin Madhesi people who are opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces in the new Constitution. Hospitals in the country have run out of medicines and they are facing acute shortage of other essential medical supplies.”There has been no blockade by India, whatsoever. This question should really be put to Government of Nepal and not to the government of India. There is no blockade by India and I want to repeat it for umpteen times. Issues facing Nepal are political in nature. They are internal to Nepal and Nepalese leadership has to resolve them through dialogue with the agitating parties,” he said replying to a question on the blockade along the Terai region bordering India.He hoped that addressing concerns of the protesters will help in restoring peace in the affected areas.”If the political challenges facing Nepal are addressed, we can hope it would assuage the concerns of the protesters leading to peace and normalcy in the affected areas of the Terai including the border crossings currently occupied by Nepalese protesters,” said Swarup.The MEA Spokesperson said the shortages in Nepal were due to the blockade of major border crossing points of Birgunj-Raxaul border trading point which handles two-thirds of trade between the two countries.Till last evening, nearly 6,000 trucks are waiting to cross into Nepal at various border crossings including 4,700 at Raxaul, he said adding out of the 10 border points, capable of handling commercial cargo, seven including Sunauli and Panitanki have been operational”I can confirm to you that between 400 and 800 cargo trucks have been passing daily over the last four days through the India Nepal border. Petrol and lubricants supplies continue to move to the extent possible,” he said.Nepal has bee accusing India of imposing the blockade. India has been firmly denying having any role in imposing the blockade, saying truck drivers are concerned for their safety after violent protests against Nepal’s new Constitution in which over 40 people were killed.
Madhesi protesters, who have reportedly blocked the Maitri bridge, claimed that they were ‘baton-charged’ by the Nepal Police
Image Courtesy: Twitter (ANI)
Expressing India’s concern over killing of its citizen in the Nepal Police firing, Ministry of External Affairs Official Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Monday said India is deeply concerned at reports of firing in Birgunj, as issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. One person has been killed and six others injured in firing by the Nepal Police during protests at the Indo-Nepal Border near Bihar’s Raxaul town.Nepal’s Ambassador to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyaya has spoken with the MEA. Calling it firing a tragic incident, Upadhaya said, “Our concerned officers are looking into matter.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is a bilateral issue between India and Nepal, diplomatically we have to consult each other. The peace dialogue between agitating parties and Nepal government is going on,” the Nepal Ambassador added.Earlier today, a second year BA student was killed in ‘ No Man’s Land’ when the Nepal Police opened fire. Among those injured, three were baton-charged, while the rest suffered bullet injuries. Swarup said, “Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to be addressed by the Government of Nepal credibly and effectively. Indian freight forwarders and transporters have voiced their worries again today (Monday) about the deteriorating situation across the border. We are advising them to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger. We are monitoring the situation carefully’,” he added.According to reports, the borders have been sealed again.All trucks, including fuel carriers, have been barred from entering Nepal. Madhesi protesters, who have reportedly blocked the Maitri bridge, claimed that they were ‘baton-charged’ by the Nepal Police on Monday for blocking a bridge at the Indo-Nepal Border near Bihar’s Raxaul town. The protesting parties have demanded, among other things, withdrawal of armed police force from Terai districts and withdrawal of cases against their leader and cadres and martyrdom status of those killed during protests.According the Human Rights Watch, at least 45 people were killed during the protests in August and September. For over two months now, the Madhesi protesters have been opposing Nepal’s new Constitution. With agency inputs
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