Curfew as protests turn violent

  • Police firing injures four protesters
- CHITRANGA THAPA, BHAWANI BHATTA, KANCHANPUR

Aug 24, 2018-

The Kanchanpur District Administration Office clamped a curfew in Mahendranagar after protests against the rape and murder of 13-year-old Nirmala Panta turned violent on Thursday. Four people sustained injuries as police shot at protesters.

Clashes between the locals and security personnel turned violent near the District Traffic Police Office on Thursday afternoon, leaving more than 10 people seriously injured. Six demonstrators, including the four hit by bullets, and four police personnel got injuries.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Gyan Bahadur Sethi, Tej Bahadur Bhatta, a protester, and police officer Harka Bahadur Pal were seriously injured in the clash. Both are receiving care at the Dhangadhi-based Seti Zonal Hospital.

The protests, which began late last month after the teenager was found dead in a sugarcane field, intensified this week after police paraded a mentally challenged man as the main suspect. Local residents say Dilip Kumar Bista, 41, is innocent and that police are protecting the real criminal.

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets early Thursday in places across the district, pressing for the perpetrator’s arrest. Demonstrators blocked traffic on the East-West Highway at Suda and Lalpur of Bedkot Municipality and Bhasi Chowk of Bhimdutta Municipality. Protests became violent when the demonstrators moved towards the Mahendranagar bazaar area.

Chief District Officer Kumar Bahadur Khadka said police were compelled to open fire when some unruly protesters tried to enter the District Traffic Police Office.

According to protesters, the security personnel initially charged batons and lobbied tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. But once they ran out of tear gas, they started firing bullets. Krishna Pandey, a local protester, said the police fired around 50 rounds. Sethi refused to confirm or deny the number but said officials were still assessing the number of bullets fired.

Sporadic clashes continued at Madan Chowk, Park Chowk, Buspark area, and elsewhere. Demonstrations went on until the curfew order. A small group of agitators even attempted to vandalise the Bhimdutta Municipality office.

Local administration officials said the curfew was clamped from 5pm on Thursday to 5 the next

morning.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has appealed to all the parties to exercise restraint. Minister for Internal Affairs and Law Prakash Bahadur Shah said the provincial administration, expressing serious concerns over the clashes, was coordinating with the federal government to find a solution urgently.

Postmortem report showed that Nirmala had been raped and strangulated to death.

Published: 24-08-2018 07:35

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