UN appeals for peace after ethnic violence in Nepal

Law-enforcement officers receive treatment at a hospital in flashpoint Tikapur after being injured in clashes. Picture: AFP/Getty
Law-enforcement officers receive treatment at a hospital in flashpoint Tikapur after being injured in clashes. Picture: AFP/Getty
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India and the United Nations have appealed for all parties to seek peace in Nepal, where hundreds of security force personnel were yesterday patrolling a western town after ethnic protesters demanding statehood attacked police a day earlier, leaving 11 dead and many injured.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi called Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala to express concern that political and social instability would seriously compound the tragedy caused by the earthquake that devastated Nepal earlier this year.

The deployment of the army threatens to increase tension

Brad Adams

Mr Modi appealed to the government, all political parties and the people of Nepal to eschew violence and maintain social harmony, the Indian Embassy said in a statement.

Police officers and soldiers were rushed to Tikapur, 250 miles west of Kathmandu, after Monday’s clashes.

Government administrator Raj Kumar Shrestha said authorities were in control of the town and surrounding areas and there were no protests or reports of curfew violations.

At least 20 police officers hurt in the clashes were being treated in hospitals. Seven police officers, the two-year-old son of a police officer and three protesters were killed. Many protesters fled into the jungle and nearby villages after troops were called into the town, and it was not clear if other protesters were killed.

The embassy statement said Mr Modi told Mr Koirala that the political leadership of Nepal should resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue between all political parties and through the widest possible consultations, including with the public, to strengthen trust and arrive at solutions that reflect the will of all citizens in a united, peaceful Nepal.

Giant neighbour India surrounds Nepal from three sides and has major influence over the Himalayan nation.

Home minister Bam Dev Gautam told Nepal’s Constituent Assembly that the protesters surrounded police who were enforcing a curfew and attacked them with stones, knives and spears.

The protesters from the Tharu ethnic group are demanding a separate state in the new constitution, which is being finalised in the Constituent Assembly. They say a separate state would give them a stronger say in local affairs. They have organised strikes and street demonstrations, but the protests turned violent on Monday.

In a separate clash yesterday, police shot a protester in Gaur, a town 100 miles south of Kathmandu, officials said.

Nepal has been governed by an interim constitution for years. The earthquake that killed thousands in April created new urgency for politicians to agree on a draft of a new charter.

The main political parties have agreed on seven federal states, but smaller political parties and ethnic groups oppose either the number or makeup of the states.

New York-based Human Rights Watch called on the government to order an independent investigation into the deaths and said the security forces must respect basic rights.

“The violence . . . and the deployment of the army threatens to further increase tensions in an already charged situation,” the statement quoted Brad Adams, the group’s Asia director, as saying.