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Nepal protester shot dead in fresh clashes as India pleads for calm

Sydney Morning Herald - August 26, 2015

Gopal Sharma, Kathmandu Police have shot dead a protester in Nepal as fresh clashes erupted a day after an 18-month-old boy and seven police officers died during demonstrations against a new constitution.

In the latest clashes police fired into a crowd of about 150 demonstrators who were throwing stones at security personnel in Gaur, 100 kilometres south of Kathmandu.

Anger has been building for weeks in southern Nepal after MPs struck a breakthrough deal on a new constitution.

Plans to divide the country into seven provinces have sparked fury among historically marginalised communities, who say the new borders will limit their political representation.

The clashes prompted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call for calm on Monday. The leader of Nepal's largest donor and trading partner, "appealed to the government, all political parties and the people of Nepal to eschew violence and maintain social harmony", during a telephone call with Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, the Indian foreign ministry said.

The rare intervention by Mr Modi reflected India's concerns about unrest just over its border and fears that the new constitution, to replace the interim one in place since the end of civil war in 2006, may ignore the aspirations of some minorities.

At least nine people, including seven police officers and an 18-month-old baby, were killed during Monday's unrest in Tikapur, close to the border with India. One officer was burned to death, the government said.

The protesters, mainly from the ethnic Tharu community, oppose a plan to include their area in a larger province, and want a separate province for the south-western plains under the new federal constitution that is is supposed to be finalised this month.

Nepalese authorities imposed a curfew and mobilised the army to quell the protests. The town remained tense but quiet on Tuesday, officials said.

"The political leadership of Nepal should resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue... and arrive at solutions that reflect the will and accommodate the aspirations of all citizens," India's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The United Nations' human rights agency urged political leaders and protesters to find a peaceful solution before violence spirals out of control.

"We urge the government of Nepal to create a climate where minority or dissenting views or beliefs are respected, and security forces only employ force as a last resort," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UNHCR.

At least 13 people have died in violence related to protests over the new constitution. (AAP, Reuters)

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/world/nepal-protester-shot-dead-in-fresh-clashes-as-india-pleads-for-calm-20150826-gj7w63.html.

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