Province No. 1
Protest in Biratnagar calling for renaming Koshi ProvinceFour protesters detained following a clash were later released. Four security personnel of the Armed Police Force and Nepal Police were injured in the clash.
Deo Narayan Sah
Clashes ensued between security personnel and protesters demonstrating against the naming of Koshi Province in Biratnagar on Sunday.
Armed Police Force personnel fired four rounds of bullets in the air and lobbed around 24 shells of tear gas after the protesters from the indigenous communities breached a prohibited area to stage the protest.
The demonstration which started from Jan Andolan Chowk in Biratnagar breached the prohibited area announced by the local administration earlier and moved towards the office of the Chief Minister and the Council of Ministers.
The District Administration Office, Morang had declared the Provincial Assembly, Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers and the Chief Minister's residence as prohibited areas.
The security personnel resorted to using force after the protestors started pelting stones at the security personnel by breaching the prohibited area.
Four security personnel of the Armed Police Force and Nepal Police were injured in the clash. An APF Assistant Inspector sustained injuries to his head while the other injured sustained minor injuries, according to District Police Office, Morang.
Chief District Officer of Morang Tirtharaj Bhattarai informed that the condition of the injured AFP Assistant Inspector is normal.
The police also detained four protestors following the clash. They were released in the evening.
The situation in Biratnagar became tense on Sunday and clashes between the protesters and the police were reported from several areas.
The protestors burnt the effigy of Chief Minister Hikmat Karki and chanted slogans against province assembly members who voted in favour of naming the province Koshi.
Vehicular movement along the Koshi Highway was obstructed from 2pm to 5pm as the demonstrators burnt tires on the road.
Following the clash, the local administration had deployed additional security personnel to prevent untoward incidents.
Province 1 Re-naming Joint Struggle Committee has been organising various protest programmes across the province after a meeting of the provincial assembly on March 1 officially approved Koshi as its new name.
An overwhelming majority endorsed the name proposed by the CPN-UML. Besides the UML, assembly members from the Nepali Congress, the CPN (Maoist Centre), and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) voted in the proposal’s favour.
Of Nepal’s seven provinces, Koshi is the last province to get a name. The provincial assembly failed to name the province in the previous five-year term of the assembly as the parties were divided on the proposed names.
Following the March 1 decision, several protests broke out in various districts of the province. Various ethnic-based groups including Limbuwan, Kirant Joint Struggle Committee staged demonstrations in Biratnagar, the district headquarters, demanding that the province’s new name reflect the region’s ethnic identities.
The protests soon spilled over onto other districts such as Sunsari, Panchthar, Taplejung and Ilam
Organisations such as Renaming Province 1 with Identity Committee, Federal Kirat Rai Yaokkha, Kirat Yakthung Chumlung and Sherpa Sangh. The dissenting groups have demanded the province be renamed either Kirat Limbuwan or Limbuwan Kirat.