(AsiaNews) - Strikes, demonstrations and clashes with police have plunged Nepal
into chaos a week before the new federal constitution is supposed to come into
force. Most of the violence has been reported in the country's western
districts and in the Terai region. In both areas, ethnic minorities have been
fighting for autonomy for years. Yesterday, United Nations Secretary General ,
Ban Ki-moon called on the members of the constituent assembly to heed the
demands of Nepal's ethnic and religious minorities.
the Far Western Development Region, a general strike against the region's
division has paralysed it for the past 19 days. No planes have been able to fly
in and out of local cities and remote villages.
sources said that in mountain areas people have run out of food and drugs that
can only be brought in by plane or helicopter. The lives of thousands of
children and old people are at risk.
Jumla, "People are coming to buy rice but our stock has completely run out,"
said Narendra Pariyar, who is the local deputy chief district officer. Local authorities
are also unable to do anything because rescue helicopters are grounded by the
between pro-division indigenous Tharu and pro-union activists are making
matters worse. After days of peaceful demonstrations, the two groups clashed
yesterday in Jumla District. More than 30 people were injured, including 11
fear more violent demonstrations. Locals are afraid of leaving home and want
police to enforce law and order.
the southern region of Terai, indigenous Madhesi, Gurung and Magar are planning
demonstrations and strikes. The Nepal Federation of Indigenous and
Nationalities has called for a general strike in the region's 22 districts.
goal is to force the Maoist-dominated constituent assembly to pay attention to
the problems of ethnic minorities, living on the margins of society.
new constitution was drafted after the establishment of a secular state in 2007
following 11 years of civil war between Maoist guerrillas and the monarchy. It is
expected to be approved on 28 May.
various groups are protesting, putting pressures in favour or against
federalism. Political parties are also divided over the issue and over the
number of federated states.
are also running high between the Hindu majority and the country's 60 or so
ethnic and religious minorities, which demand protection and rights in the new