(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Nepali government drive to gauge public opinion on a much-anticipated constitution has turned sour after angry protesters clashed with police.
The vehicles of the former prime minister and finance minister were attacked during a two-day campaign that started Monday and saw lawmakers sent across the country's 240 constituencies to gather suggestions from the public.
Political disputes have delayed the constitution for a decade since the end of the civil war in 2006 but a rush to push through the document in the wake of two devastating earthquakes has been met with protests from pressure groups and minorities, who claim their rights have been sidelined.
In Gaur, a town in the southern plains, angry protesters from the Federal Socialist Forum pelted stones at the vehicle of former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who presided over a public consultation program in the municipality meeting hall.
The protesters demanded they be allowed in, to take part in the discussion. Video footage from the local Image Channel television channel, showed a group of local ethnic Madhesi men and women shouting slogans and burning copies of the draft constitution.
Protesters from the Madhesi People's Right Struggle Committee on Monday shut down Janakpur, a historic town in southeastern Nepal. Around 40 protesters were injured in clashes with policemen after they tried to break the consultation program.
In the capital Kathmandu, dozens of supporters of the pro-Hindu, pro-monarchy, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal protested outside the Dasharath Stadium, where the Deputy Prime Minister and General Administration Minister Prakash Man Singh was hosting discussions.
"Women, Madhesis, journalists, everyone has objected to the draft. So how can we accept this?," Chandra Bahadur Gurung, a leader of the party told reporters.
On Monday morning, an unidentified group hurled a petrol bomb at the vehicle of Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, who was travelling to his constituency in the district of Nuwakot, some 60 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu.
"We had to use force in Janakpur and Gaur in order to control the protesters. We fired tear gas and baton-charged the crowd," Nepal Police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam told Anadolu Agency.
Bam said protesters tried to disrupt the consultations in 15 districts across the country.
Nepal's long drawn out attempt to write a constitution is drawing to a close but Madhesis and other marginalized groups have protested, demanding that the charter delineate the borders of the proposed eight states of a new federal set-up.
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