Nepal's FM, Prachanda attacked during debate over statute

Nepal's Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat and Maoist chief Prachanda on Monday escaped unhurt when they came under attack by hardline communists and Madhesi groups during separate public discussions on the first draft of the country's new constitution.

Kathmandu: Nepal's Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat and Maoist chief Prachanda on Monday escaped unhurt when they came under attack by hardline communists and Madhesi groups during separate public discussions on the first draft of the country's new constitution.

While Mahat was attacked with a petrol bomb, stones were hurled at Prachanda.

A petrol bomb was hurled at the vehicle of Mahat in his home district Nuwakot, 100 km from here. The minister was, however, unhurt as the bomb went off on the road.

Cadres of Madhesi Front and some hardliner communist groups hurled stones at UCPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda at a programme organised to obtain public opinion on drafting of constitution at Mohan Higher Secondary School in Mirchaiya of Siraha district, south-east Nepal.

Prachanda escaped unhurt in the incident.

At least half a dozen people, including a senior police officer, were injured in clashes between police and political cadres.

The public discussion venues remained tense after agitating cadres tore the copies of draft and started hurling stones, even as many people turned out for the programme.

The dissident Madhes group put obstruction in all five venues at Parsa in southern Nepal as well as in Rautahat.

Pokhariya in constituency-5 of the district witnessed the most serious tension where police had to fire a dozen rounds of tear gas shells to control the situation.

The public opinion collection at constituency-2 in Birjung also saw tension as police wielded batons to chase away protesters who tried to obstruct the programme.

Meanwhile, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), a pro-Hindu outfit disrupted the public opinion collection meeting in Kathmandu.

Half a dozen workers of the outfit, known for its pro-Hindu and pro-monarchy stance shouted slogans and tore the draft copies of the preliminary draft of the constitution.

Nepal was declared a secular state after its centuries-old monarchy was abolished in 2008 and was declared a republic. Earlier, Nepal was the world's only Hindu nation, where 80 per cent of the population believed in Hinduism.

The pro-Hindu groups including the RPP were demanding a referendum on whether the country should be turned into a Hindu state or remain secular.

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