Major Madhesi Front ally announces separate protests in Terai

Major Madhesi Front ally announces separate protests in Terai

Nepal's Sadbhawana Party, a major ally of the Madhesi Front agitating over re-demarcation of the seven-province federal model in the new Constitution, today announced a separate protest programme in southern Nepal but dismissed reports that it has split from the alliance.

The party also distanced itself from crucial talks this evening with the government over the mistreatment to its president Rajendra Mahato, who was seriously injured during baton-charing by the police in Biratnagar-Jogbani border point where he was leading a group of cadres for a sit-in.

Sadbhawana Party vice-chairman Laxman Lal Karna told PTI his party would not sit for talks unless the government apologises for the incident.

Surprising its allies, the Sadbhawana Party announced new forms of protests in the Terai, scene of the ongoing protests by Madhesis who are largely Indian-origin and have led a blockade of key border trade points with India.

In a series of protest programmes announced unilaterally by the Sadbhawana Party, the party said it will focus on non- violent activities like mass prayers in memory of deceased protestors, fasting, signature campaign and campaigns to internationalise Madhesi issues through social media, local media reported.

Speculation was rife that the agitating Madhesi Front, an alliance of four Madhes-based parties demanding re-demarcation of the seven- province federal model in the new Constitution, has virtually split due to Sadbhawana Party's planned separate protest programme.

However, Sadbhawana Party vice-chairman Laxman Lal Karna denies the report that there has been split in the Front.

"The news report about the split in the Front is totally false," he said.

Mahato, who sustained injuries in his head and leg, is currently undergoing treatment in Delhi as his condition could not improve during treatment at B P Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan of eastern Nepal.

Now after a couple of days of treatment, his condition has improved from today, Karna said, adding that the government should ask for apology for the incident.

Uprendra Yadav, chairman of the Federal Democratic Front, has criticised Sadbhawana Party's decision.

"Sadbhawana Party should not announce its separate protest programmes, which was a blunder," Yadav said. 

The three other Madhesi parties, which have been launching protest under the banner of UDMF (United Democratic Madhesi Front), are holding a crucial meeting with the government representatives at Prime Ministers' Office at Baluwatar along with main opposition Nepali Congress this evening in the latest attempt to resolve the ongoing crisis.

For more than four months, life in the southern Nepal plains have been seriously affected, with the Front-led protests against the country's new Constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 20.

So far, over 50 people have died during the Madhesi- Tharu agitation launched by the marginalised groups of the country.

The Front is scheduled to hold a meeting tomorrow to effect changes in its mode of protest and that blockades at key Nepal-India border entry points would be lifted to ease supply of essentials to Kathmandu and other major cities.

There has been growing pressure on the Madhesi Front to lift the blockade at the Nepal-India border as landlocked Nepal is facing acute shortage of fuel, cooking gas and medicines among other essentials due to the blockade.

Meanwhile, UCPN-Maoist chief Prachanda today met India's Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae and held discussions on the current political situation in the country including the ongoing blockade in southern border of the country and agitation launched by the Madhesi Front. 

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