Mon, Mar 16, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Nepalese minority ends two-week-long general strike


An ethnic minority called off a two-week general strike in Nepal’s southern plains yesterday following an agreement with the government.

Shops, main markets, offices and educational institutions began reopening across the region known as Terai, as public and private transport resumed on major highways.

The strike had paralyzed nearly half of Nepal’s 75 districts with many places reporting shortages of essential items and food grain.

It had effectively cut off supplies of farm produce and fuel to many hill districts, including the capital Kathmandu.

The government and ethnic Tharu leadership reached a six-point agreement late on Saturday night.

Kathmandu agreed to remove the Tharu and other ethnic communities from a list that classified them under the dominant Madhesi group in the region.

The delisting was aimed at preserving minority rights and giving them priority for some public-sector jobs.

The government also agreed to provide compensation to the families of those killed and injured in violence during the strike.

At least five people, including a police officer, were killed and scores injured during two weeks of unrest.

The Maoist-led government has been struggling to deal with the demands of ethnic groups since it came to power last year.

Armed rebel groups are demanding greater autonomy and right to self-determination. Several attempts to bring them into peace negotiations have failed.

Over 250 people have been killed in ethnic violence in southern Nepal in the past two years.

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