Nepal trade disrupted by anti-constitution protests


– – Protests in southern Nepal against the new constitution have disrupted cross-border trade with India, authorities said Saturday.

Police clashed with protesters who tried to prevent a woman from entering the country and manhandled her, officials said.

The demonstrators have been disrupting trade in the region for three days. More than 100 lorries were lined up at the border awaiting passage into Nepal.

Local media reports said the Indian authorities are using the agitation as an excuse to impose a trade embargo, but India says it has prevented vehicles from crossing over due to security reasons.

The border closure has led to a rise in black marketeering in Nepal, which depends heavily on India for supplies.

In Kathmandu, people were lining up at fuel stations as the scarcity of petrol became pronounced.

Violent protests in southern Nepal against the new constitution have been going on for more than a month, claiming at least 47 lives.

The Madhesi inhabitants of the southern plains have been demanding that states boundaries be drawn by ethnicity, which was rejected by the drafters of the constitution.

A new charter was one key provision of the peace accord between the government and Maoist rebels in 2006, ending a decade-long civil war that killed over 17,000 people.

It took some seven years for negotiators to write the constitution amid disagreements over issues including the structure of the state and rights.