Protests erupt over provincial centers

The government’s decision to name temporary provincial centres has sparked violent protests at several places across the country. Clashes in Dhankuta and Dipayal left more than 25 people injured on Thursday. The local administration issued a prohibitory order in the Dhankuta district headquarters as demonstrators resorted to arson and vandalism.

People in Dhankuta and Doti, the regional headquarters of the erstwhile eastern and far-western development regions, have been protesting for the past few weeks to make their towns the provincial capitals. Enraged protesters hit the streets immediately after the Cabinet declared the temporary provincial centres on Wednesday. 

The government, amid dispute, declared Biratnagar, Janakpur, Hetauda, Pokhara, Rupandehi, Surkhet and Kailali as the temporary capitals of the seven provinces. The Provincial Assembly, however, is authorised to designate the capital.An indefinite prohibitory order was issued in Dhankuta on Thursday afternoon. Chief District Officer Prem Prakash Upreti, however, said the move aimed at protecting public property and maintaining law and order had little effect.

There were sporadic clashes between the demonstrators and security personnel at various places in Dhankuta Bazaar. Twenty-two including police personnel were injured in the clashes, according to the authorities. The enraged protesters torched the regional administration office and vandalised some other government offices as well.

Deputy Administrator Sewanta Raj Dahal was in office when the protesters torched the building. He was rescued with the help of locals. Armed Police Force personnel took the fire under control after half an hour.

The protesters also attempted to torch the urban development and building construction division office. They set fire to a motorcycle parked on the office premises. The agitators inflicted damage to the Dhankuta bench of the Biratnagar High Court. They also vandalised an ambulance, a police van and a fire engine on its way to douse the fire at the regional administration office. The ambulance driver sustained minor injuries in the attack. Police lobbed five teargas canisters to contain the situation. 

In Doti, three demonstrators were injured in clash with police. A seriously injured activist was referred to Kailali for treatment. Security personnel fired 10 warning shots and some teargas canisters after stones were hurled at the regional administration office. The enraged locals picketed the regional and district administration offices throughout the day. They torched a motorcycle belonging to the district forest office and the Pipalla traffic police beat.

Birgunj was shut in protest after Janakpur was named the temporary capital of Province 2. Political leaders from Bara and Parsa districts have formed a struggle committee.

In Dang, people were affected by an indefinite shutdown enforced demanding that the district be made the capital of Province 5. District headquarters Ghorahi and other major towns including Tulsipur, Lamahi, Gadwa and Bhaluwang remained shut.

In Province 3, protests have erupted in Kavre demanding the provincial headquarters. Local politicians have launched a bid to muster a two-thirds majority in the Provincial Assembly to make Kavre the provincial capital. This news is cited from The Kathmandu Post.