By Deepak Adhikari
Nepali leaders have been forced to appeal for calm on Tuesday as tensions boiled over in protests over plans to divide Nepal into six states.
Protesters in the western Surkhet district and several nearby districts were opposing their allocation to a sixth federal state under a new constitution being rushed through by Nepali politicians.
Two protesters were killed in Surkhet on Monday when they tried to attack a house of a former minister, said Kamal Singh Bam, a Nepal Police spokesman.
People from the Karnali zone of the remote and impoverished western region are up in arms against the deal, shutting down the region on Tuesday.
“Protests in Surkhet are largely peaceful today, but the police fired teargas in Jumla [of Karnali region] to control the crowds,” Bam told Anadolu Agency. He said the protesters had attacked the officers of Nepali Congress, Unified Marxist-Leninist and Maoist parties.
“They are very angry. So we have mobilized hundreds of security forces to maintain law and order,” Bam said, adding that separate groups were protesting in Kailali and Baglung districts.
On Tuesday, top leaders from the four main parties issued a statement urging for calm.
“We request people to calm down. We request protesters to withdraw their strikes. We will amend the draft according to people’s feedback,” read the statement signed by politicians, including Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.
Spurred by the devastating earthquakes that hit the country three months back, Nepal’s politicians, after years of bickering, have hastened the delivery of a post-war constitution.