Clashes flared up after undivided far-west campaigners torched a tractor carrying Tharu activists going to Dhangadhi t

DHANGADHI: Tension reigned supreme in Kailali today after clashes broke out between supporters calling for undivided far-west and Tharu activists pitching for a separate state for them. More than 45 people were injured.

Clashes flared up after undivided far-west campaigners torched a tractor carrying Tharu activists who were heading to Dhangadhi to take part in a mass meeting.

The far-west region, which has been bearing the brunt of a long-drawn strike by those pressing for undivided far-west for the last 15 days, saw the issue of federalism taking an ugly turn today.

The Joint Tharu Struggle Committee today had slated a mass meeting in Dhangadhi calling all the Tharus living west of Chitwan to participate. The first clash occurred when undivided far-west campaigners stopped Tharus from heading to Dhangadhi from Kanchanpur near Trinagar on the Nepal-India border. Scores of Tharu activists were injured, four — Raj Kumar Rana, Basmati Rana and Lamani Rana of Kanchanpur and Janakraj Awasthi —seriously. They have been admitted to Seti Zonal Hospital.

And another clash followed in which six policemen, five of those supporting undivided far-west and nine Tharu activists were injured at Muda Bazaar in Kota Tulsipur VDC along the Mahendra Highway after undivided far-west supporters torched a tractor belonging to Tharus.

Labli Kunwar, Saraswati Kunwar, Patak Shahi and Jagat BK of undivided far-west campaigners and Jayaraj Chaudhary, Suresh Chaudhary and Pujanlal Chaudhary of Tharu activists were wounded in the clash. Suresh Chaudhary (27) of Baliya, Gidhiniya has received serious injury on his head, said a Tharu activist Madhav Chaudhary. He has been referred to Nepalgunj for further treatment. DSP Dhansingh Airee and other policemen who were also hurt in the clash are undergoing treatment at Sukhad-based Ghodaghodi Hospital and Lamki-based Lalratna Hospital.

TJSC had earlier slated a mass meet at Traffic Chowk in Dhangadhi, but supporters of undivided far-west descended on the area in huge numbers as early as 8:00 am and occupied the place, in the biggest demonstration by them so far.

As a group of Tharu youth were marching towards the site where they had slated their programme earlier, police lobbed tear gas shells and charged baton. TJSC then decided to hold their programme at Park Chowk in Dhangadhi.

Yet another clash erupted between the two groups in Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur, this evening. Police fired three rounds of tear-gas shells.

Despite clashes at different places, Tharus succeeded in holding their programme.

Tharu leaders, including Raj Kumar Lekhi, Laxman Chaudhary, Hari Chaudhary and Horilal Chaudhary, addressed the programme. Laxman Tharu has been reported to have been injured after police roughed him up when he reached Seti Zonal Hospital to enquire about other injured.

The local administration had deployed around 1,500 security personnel in Dhangadhi today in view of possible clashes.by SHIVARAJ BHATTA THT

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