Seven police officers were reportedly killed Monday in western Nepal during clashes over a newly proposed national constitution. The demonstrations have turned violent in recent days, as Nepalese police have arrested dozens of protesters.
"So far we have confirmation that seven have died in the protests, including five police and two members of the armed police force," senior superintendent of police Hemant Bahadur Pal told Agence France-Presse in Kathmandu.
Protesters have mostly come from Nepal’s federation of indigenous nationalities, which has called a nationwide strike against the proposed borders of new provinces, Channel News Asia reported Sunday.
The proposed constitution, which would see the country carved into seven states, has sparked anger from those who say the new borders would fail to ensure political representation for marginalized communities. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in recent days.
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"This draft constitution does not ensure the rights of indigenous communities," Himal Dandu Sherpa, vice chairman of the federation of indigenous nationalities, told Channel News Asia. "The proposed demarcation breaks up home districts of indigenous groups in different provinces. That is not acceptable.”
Dozens were arrested Monday as they called for a nationwide strike, forcing shops to close and disrupting traffic. Lawmakers have sought to appease protesters, but have failed to do so, as many citizens fear the proposed charter would disrupt their livelihoods.
At least three demonstrators were killed by police earlier this month.
Work on a new national constitution began in 2008, after a decadelong Maoist insurgency that resulted in the deaths of some 16,000 people and brought down the country's Hindu monarchy, France 24 reported.
A draft of the proposed constitution, already revised amid protests, was tabled late Sunday as opposition members chanted slogans of protest against it. Opponents of the draft constitution have pushed for provinces to be carved around historic communities, but other lawmakers have argued such a move would disturb national unity.