By Christine Khamis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
KATHMANDU, Nepal —
Protests began in Kailali, Nepal on Monday after a revised national constitution was presented to the Nepalese Parliament on Sunday. At least nine people were killed, including police officers and civilians. There have been reports stating that three protestors and a child were also killed. Dozens of people were arrested during the protests.
The new constitution calls for dividing Nepal into seven separate provinces, but excludes a province for the Tharu ethnic group. Members of the Tharu group, who live in the western region of Nepal, have called for the establishment of a separate Tharu province in order that they may have political representation.
Thousands gathered to protest in Tikapur, a town in Kailali. There were also protests in two other districts. In Tikapur, protestors replaced government signs with signs reading “Tharu State”.
Kailali’s chief Administrative Officer, Raj Kumar Shrestha, has stated that security officials were caught off guard and were attacked by the protesters, who were carrying weapons such as spears, knives, and stones. One of the police officers was set on fire by protestors. The death toll is expected to rise, according to Mr. Shrestha.
According to Bam Dev Guatam, Nepal’s deputy prime minister and home minister, the Nepalese government held an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday, during which it authorized the districts affected by the protests to call in troops.
Nepal has been working to put together a new constitution since 2008, after a decade of Maoist insurgency that caused the collapse of Nepal’s Hindu monarchy along with the deaths of around 16,000 people.
There has been much contention over the administrative division of Nepal, which has been centrally governed for over two centuries. That contention has been a barrier to the adoption of a new Nepalese Constitution. Over 100 ethnic groups and castes live in Nepal, and many disagree on how the many local districts should be combined into provinces and whether those provinces should be formed according to ethnicity.
Himal Dandu Sherpa, vice chairman of Nepal’s federation of indigenous nationalities, told Channel News Asia that the proposed constitution does not ensure the rights of indigenous communities and that it breaks up the districts of indigenous groups in different provinces. Minority groups have stated that the new constitution discriminates against them and gives them inadequate autonomy.
For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera – Deadly Clashes Between Nepali Police and Protesters – 24 August 2015
BBC – Nepal Clashes at Protest Over Constitution Leave Eight Dead – 24 August 2015
International Business Times – Nepal Constitution Protest: At least 7 Police Offers Killed, Dozens Arrested Amid Demonstrations – 24 August 2015
The New York Times – Plan for New Nepal Districts Draws Deadly Protests and Attacks on Police– 24 August 2015