Attack on Madhesi leader Rajendra Mahato has threatened to derail negotiations between the government and the agitating force.
Sadbhavana Party, of which Mahato is President, has already refused to participate in talks with the government unless Prime Minister KP Oli apologiges. And Sadbhavana is also putting pressure on other Madhesi parties to take a formal decision to this effect.
Sadbhavana and three other Madhesi parties form Madhesi Morcha, which has been protesting against the new constitution in Nepal’s southern plains for over the last four months. The government has tabled a bill in Parliament to address Madhesi demands for proportional representation and constituency delimitation in proportion of population. The government has also passed a resolution to form an all-party committee to revise federal boundaries in three months.
But the Morcha has rejected the government’s road-map, and is still carrying out protests seeking a package deal on its demands.
Mahato, a hardliner within the Morcha, was injured in a clash with police when he tried to block Nepal-India check-point in Biratnagar on Saturday. A video clip posted online by Madhesi activists shows police attacking Mahato and other protesters with bamboo batons. Mahato has sustained injuries to his head and legs, and is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Biratnagar.
Attack on Mahato has outraged Madhesi leaders, and chances of further talks and a deal now look slim.
Manish Suman of Sadbhavana Party said: “The government must apologise. If not, it will have to take responsibility for untoward consequences.”
Madhesi legislators criticised the government in Parliament on Sunday for using ‘excessive force’ to quell protests led by Mahato in Biratnagar. Sadbhavana Party’s legislator Narsingh Chaudhary said: “Are we not citizens of this country? Why is the government treating us like this?”
A violent clash erupted when Madhesi protesters demonstrated against ‘attack on Mahato’ in Janakpur on Sunday. They ransacked two government offices, and police had to fire in the open to ‘control the situation’. In Biratnagar, Madhesi protesters vandalised a vehicle and held rallies to protest ‘police’s brutality against Mahato’.