Indian national killed as Nepali police clear protesters from India border post amid fuel crisis

Nepalese security personnel guard an entry point to Nepal from India on the border.
Nepalese security personnel guard an entry point to Nepal from India on the border.PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (REUTERS, AFP) - An Indian national was killed on Monday (Nov 2) when Nepal police fired into a crowd of protesters who were trying to block a border checkpoint, a spokesman said.

Nepal has faced an acute fuel crisis for more than a month since protesters in the lowland south, angered that a new constitution fails to reflect their interests, prevented supply trucks from entering from India. Police were clearing protesters who were staging a sit-in on a"friendship" bridge across the border that is on the main supply route to the capital Kathmandu.

 “Police warned the protesters to disperse but they did not listen, compelling security forces to open fire. An Indian national was wounded and died after being taken to hospital,” said Nepal police spokesman Kamal Singh Bam.

The blockade has badly damaged Nepali relations with the country's big southern neighbour. Many in Nepal see India's hand in the protests, although New Delhi denies any role. With the Himalayan nation of 28 million still recovering from its worst earthquake on record, the government has turned to China for assistance.

A police official said that 219 empty trucks had been cleared to return to India but that none had entered the country from the Indian side of the border.

The protesters had gone into the town of Birgunj where they were burning tyres. 

Protests over a new constitution turned violent in August, leading to more than 40 deaths, as southern plains dwellers objected to seeing their lands divided and included in several federal states dominated by mountain communities.

The constitution was nonetheless adopted on Sept 20, paving the way for the formation of a new government headed by Prime Minister K.P. Oli, who has so far failed to calm passions that have paralysed economic and political life.