Madhesis agree to hold talks with Nepal govt tomorrow

In a breakthrough, Nepal's Indian- origin Madhesis, protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution, Monday agreed to hold talks with the government from tomorrow to find a political solution to the unrest that has claimed over 40 lives.

Kathmandu: In a breakthrough, Nepal's Indian- origin Madhesis, protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution, Monday agreed to hold talks with the government from tomorrow to find a political solution to the unrest that has claimed over 40 lives.

The main agitating group of Madhesi parties has for the first time agreed to come to the negotiating table despite earlier appeals by senior Nepalese leaders and is being seen as the first step towards easing the tension and scarcity of essential goods currently gripping the Himalayan nation.

The formal talks between the three-member government talks team and the Joint Madhesi Front (JMF) - the main agitating group of Madhesi parties - will formally kick start tomorrow, Forest Minister Mahesh Acharya told PTI.

"We have held telephone conversation with Mahantha Thakur, president of Terai Madhes Democratic Party, a key member of the front on Monday and they have agreed to sit for talks on Tuesday," he said.

Acharya is the coordinator of the talks team formed by the three major political parties to hold talks with the agitating Madhesi and Tharu groups.

The development comes at a time when Nepal is suffering from scarcity of essential goods like fuel and cooking gas due to what it terms as "undeclared blockade" of a key trade point at the border with India by people protesting the controversial newly-promulgated Constitution.

India has rejected as "totally false" allegations that it blockaded the checkpoint.

More than 40 people have died in the agitations launched by the Madhesis and Tharu ethnic groups in southern plains, which entered 52nd day today, hitting hard normal life.

The agitating Madhesi group has formed a four-member talks team to hold talks with the government.

New demarcation of boundary for the southern plains, more rights and representation for the Indian-origin Madhesi people are the major demands of the agitating groups.

The Madhesis are inhabitants of Nepal's Terai region bordering India and opposed to splitting the country into seven provinces.

Supply of fuel has been obstructed for the past 12 days due to the ongoing agitation and security tightened by Indian security and customs officials at the border check points due to the unrest in southern Nepal.

The talks between government's talk team and Federal Democratic Front, a moderate alliance of Madhesi parties, is already underway for the last three days. The talks were heading towards a positive direction, the Minister said.

The formation of a national consensus government, ongoing agitation in the southern Nepal and the supply of fuel were the main issues for discussion during the meetings of three major political parties and 30 party alliance held today at the Prime Minister's Office.

During the meeting of the three major parties, the top leaders have underlined the need to continue dialogue with different agitating groups of Terai.

The announcement also comes a day after over 100 trucks carrying essential goods and petroleum products entered Nepal from India.

Media reports said that even today, nearly 60 cargo vehicles including 32 petroleum tankers entered Nepal through Jogbani border entry point, some 400 kilometres from here.

There was also a reported minor clash at the border crossing between protesters and police around midnight in which police had to resort to firing in the air to disperse the crowd but no one was hurt and four persons were briefly detained. 

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