Nepal: New Constitution Fails To Halt Violence

Nepal’s new constitution failed to halt violence, which has plagued the region for several weeks. On Monday, officials confirmed at least three protesters were shot during an anti-constitution demonstration in Biratnagar. According to reports, the protesters were critically injured when authorities opened fire into the crowd.

Although Nepal’s new constitution was expected to ease tensions, several groups have strongly opposed the “secular and democratic” document.

Nepal’s new constitution: Reach out to aggrieved groups to make the statute a real success

— Times of India (@timesofindia) September 21, 2015

As reported by IBN, the constitution will identify seven specific provinces within the South Asian country. Although the internal borders were newly-defined for “for administrative purposes,” the Madhesi and Tharu peoples are disturbed — as the new boundaries will divide their homeland.

They are further concerned that their interests will be “under-represented in Parliament.”

Nepal’s new constitution is also under fire, as it formally upholds the decision to abolish Hindu as the country’s official religion.

Although the government will be “responsible for protecting ancient religious practices,” the constitution ensures “religious and cultural freedom.” The document also forbids proselytising and designates the cow as the national animal.

As reported by First Post, the constitution includes protections for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.” However, women’s rights may have taken a hit.

According to the new constitution, Nepali citizenship cannot pass from a mother to her child unless her husband is a Nepali citizen. The same rule does not apply to fathers who are married to women of other nationalities.

In an official statement, Nepal’s Ministry of External Affairs suggested administrators are willing to negotiate the more controversial points of Nepal’s new constitution. However, the violence has to stop before the negotiations can begin.

“We are concerned that the situation in several parts of the country… continues to be violent… We urge that issues on which there are differences should be resolved through dialogue in an atmosphere free from violence and intimidation, and institutionalized in a manner that would enable broad-based ownership and acceptance. This would lay the foundation of harmony, progress and development in Nepal.”

In recent weeks, at least 40 people were killed amid protests surrounding Nepal’s new constitution. Although the document was intended to improve quality of life, authorities said the violence continues to escalate.

[Image via De Visu / Shutterstock]