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Nepal police open fire on constitution protesters, 4 killed

52Four people were killed in two separate incidents of police firing in Nepal on Wednesday as protests over demarcation of fresh states in the country’s new constitution escalated in Madhes, the southern plains bordering India.

In the first incident, a 60-year-old was killed when police fired on a group of protesters in Saptari district, after they clashed with security personnel trying to clear a road blocked with felled trees.

Three more were killed in Mahottari district in police firing following clashes between police and protesters who tried to burn down the district judge’s residence.

“Three protesters were killed in Mahottari and one in Saptari in police firing. Nearly three dozen including policemen have been injured,” said Nepal Police spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam.

With this the total number of casualties in mid-western, far-western and Madhes regions in protests over the new constitution has risen to 33. This includes 10 policemen killed by protesters.

Protesters allegedly tried to set five policemen on fire in Morang district on Wednesday. Police managed to disperse the mob and save their colleagues by firing several rounds in the air.

“Protesters had set a police beat on fire and had sprinkled petrol on the policemen. Police fired tear gas shells and several rounds in the air to disperse the mob,” said Bam.

Violent protests have been taking place in Madhes for over a month now against the decision by major political parties to carve the country into seven federal states in the new constitution.

The demarcation is being opposed by the marginalised Madhesi and Tharu communities, who want more states in the areas where they are in majority, to increase political representation.

Efforts at talks to resolve the issue have failed and all political parties from Madhes have quit the constitution drafting process.

Nepal’s seven-year-old constitution drafting process which began in 2008 entered the last leg on Tuesday and a new constitution is expected to be promulgated by September 17.