The meeting between the ruling Seven-Party alliance (SPA) and the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) held on Tuesday concluded without making any headway to end the crisis gripping the Terai region.
During the meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Official residence in Baluwatar, the UDMF leaders put forward their demands which included:
the release of those arrested during the ongoing agitation in the Terai, withdrawal of the “false cases” filed against UDMF activists,
proper treatment for the injured and
an end to the repressive measures used against the agitation.
Emerging from the meeting, UDMF leader Anil Kumar Jha said that he was hopeful about the meeting and the front would resume talks with the government if the government created the proper environment.
UDMF, the newly-formed alliance of three major madhesi parties—Terai-Madhesh Democratic Party, Nepal Sadbhavana Party and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum- had agreed to sit for talks with the government to find an outlet to the Madhesi crisis through dialogue while continuing a peaceful and non-violent agitation.
During the meeting the PM was flanked by leaders Amod Kumar Upadhaya, Mahesh Acharya and Shekhar Koirala. Similarly, Front leaders Anil Kumar Jha, Maheshwar Yadav and Ratneshwar Lal Kayastha were present in the meeting that began at three this afternoon.
UDMF had called for an indefinite strike in the Terai region from February 13 putting forth a 6-point demand seeking autonomy for the Madhes (the Terai) with right to self-determination.
Life across the Terai region has been paralysed for the last seven days due to the strike called by the UDMF affecting the already insufficient supply of petroleum products to the capital.
Earlier today, CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and Maoist leader Prachanda called on the PM.
Khanal said that they advised the PM not to put off tomorrow’s deadline for filing candidacies for the Proportional Representation system for the CA polls.
They also advised the PM not to take any decisions without the agreement of the ruling Seven-Party-Alliance (SPA).
Khanal also told the PM that the UDMF’s demand for autonomy cannot be met.
The UDMF,however, had agreed to talks with the government after the Home Ministry Monday evening assured the Front that all its demands will be fulfilled and that the security personnel mobilised in the Terai region would show more restraint.
The Home Ministry had also expressed commitment to release the political prisoners of the Terai agitation, to drop all charges against UDMF activists and to provide appropriate relief to the injured and compensation to the families of those killed during the agitation.
Meanwhile,local administrations in Biratnagar and Siraha clamped curfews on Tuesday while the curfews in Mahottari and Nepalgunj of Banke entered their second and third day respectively.
One Rajesh Thakur died on Tuesday in a clash at Lahan of Siraha district. Thakur, who had sustained bullet wounds to his chest and hand, died on the way to a hospital in Dharan. Over hundred protestors were injured in the clash.
Following a clash between protestors and police in Biratnagar of Morang district on Tuesday morning, the local administration imposed curfew in Biratnagar from 11 am on Tuesday until further notice.
Fuel in the Valley
The government has brought 25 petroleum tankers ferrying over 300 kiloliters of fossil fuel through Birgunj customs, the largest import point, on Tuesday, the seventh day of the general strike in tarai.
Amid security concerns, those tankers were escorted to Raxaul depot of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) after imposing curfew along the highway and in Birgunj sub-metropolitan city at 5 pm Monday. The tankers refilled till late night and were escorted back to Amlekhgunj.
Of the total imports, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) dispatched 11 tankers (over 132 KL) to Kathmandu. “Few tankers were also sent to Pokhara for ensuring emergency supply,” said Mukunda Dhungel, director of NOC.
He informed the Post that three of the eleven tankers carrying petrol reached Kathmandu on Tuesday and the remaining eight tankers would reach here on Wednesday.
The corporation also transferred two additional tankers (24,000 liters) of petrol and four tankers (about 50,000 liters) of diesel to Thankot from Bhairahawa on Tuesday.
With the better receipt, the Thankot depot pumped out 60,000 liters of petrol and 156,000 liters of diesel to the Valley. It did not distribute kerosene though. “Apart from police, army and Sajha petrol pumps, we distributed diesel to private refilling pumps as well,” said Dhungel.
Irked by the short supply, consumers, meanwhile, organized protest rallies in places like Kalanki, Gongabu and Balkhu earlier in the day. However, they were dispersed by police.
Even though NOC gathered some 70 tankers at Amlekhgunj for the next round of import, their drivers refused to work despite security arrangements for escorting the vehicles. “They demanded curfew be imposed like yesterday if they are to work,” said a NOC official at Amlekhgunj.
And for the price of fruits and vegetables, it has shot up owing to the disruption of vehicular movement in the tarai region.According to Binaya Shrestha, planning officer at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, the supply of vegetables have dwindled to around 550 tons per day in the last seven days from 750 per tons in normal days. More here