Nepal sets up panel to probe mistreatment to President by Madhesis

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Kathmandu: Nepal today set up a four-member committee to investigate alleged “mistreatment” to President Bidya Devi Bhandari by agitating Indian-origin Madhesis during her visit to the famous Ram Janaki temple.

The probe committee has been asked to submit its report to the Home Ministry within seven days. The team comprises Joint-Secretary Binod KC as the coordinator and DIG Hemanta Bahadur Pal, Armed Police Force DIG Arbinda Dhital and Investigation Director Yadulal Kharel as members, a spokesperson at the Ministry, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said.

The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) cadres on December 16 had protested the country’s first woman President’s visit to the temple in southern Nepal’s historical town of Janakpur and reportedly mistreated her.

She escaped unhurt as the Unified Madhesi Front cadres waving black flags attacked her motorcade with stones and hurled a petrol bomb at the temple she had visited to offer prayers during the Bivaha Panchami, the annual festival symbolising wedding of Goddess Sita with Ram. A petrol bomb was also hurled at the temple premises immediately after she left due to which the stage and canopy caught fire.

The activists of UDMF, an alliance of four Terai-based parties, were protesting against the new Constitution promulgated in September that divides Nepal into seven federal provinces.

The Front had decided to protest against the president’s visit as she belongs to the ruling CPN-UML, which they believe is working against the interest of the Indian-origin Madhesi community.

Meanwhile, National Women Commission (NWC) has expressed concern over the “dishonour” shown by the cadres of the agitating UDMF to the President.

The NWC said the Madhesis’ action following her visit to the temple were “uncivilised mistreatment and highly deplorable.”

“Such activities were inhumane, discriminatory and disrespectful to the entire women fraternity, as such acts were done against the President because she was a woman,” the NWC said in a statment.

The Madhesis had also sprinkled ‘Ganga Jal’ to purify the temple premises shortly after the President, the widow of former general secretary of CPN-UML Madan Bhandari, left the site.