Police opened fire when a clash ensued between supporters and opponents of the upcoming local body election, leaving at least four people dead in the country’s restive southern plains, government officials said on Monday.
Associated Press quoted Home Ministry official Bal Krishna Panthi saying that police first tried to disperse the protesters with bamboo batons and tear gas before firing opening fire. He said three people were fatally shot and 33 police officers were injured in the clash.
According to Al Jajeera, thousands of officers were deployed on Monday to the southeastern town of Rajbiraj, where the Unified Marxist and Leninist party had organised a get-out-the-vote rally ahead of local elections set for May 14.
Members of the Madhesi ethnic community, who oppose the upcoming polls, held a counter-protest. The police opened fire at the protesters when they began hurling stones at the leftists.
The volatile Himalayan nation, sandwiched between China and India, has been in turmoil since the September 2015 adoption of the constitution that the minority Madhesi people living along the border with India oppose for failing to accommodate their interests.
Nepal’s coalition government announced last month that polls would be held on May 14 to more than 700 local bodies, the first local elections in 20 years.
The polls were delayed for years because of civil war and political infighting, but the protesters have refused to participate in the polls and are demanding amendments to the country’s new constitution.
The Madhesis say the constitution discriminates against them by limiting their representation in state institutions. They are demanding redrawing of provincial boundaries to ensure greater representation for their community.