Nepal protesting parties to “tone down” strikes for festive season

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The Madheshi bloc that has been protesting in the southern belt of Nepal against the constitution said Tuesday it will “tone down” the strikes that have been ongoing for nearly two months.

The bloc told a press conference that while it had decided to call off strikes from Fulpati to Purnima, the 10 main days of the Dashain festival, starting October 19, it was not withdrawing from dissent.

Violent protests against the new charter have claimed at least 47 lives and caused a fuel crisis as neighbouring India sealed its border, citing security issues.

Critics allege that New Delhi is pressuring Nepal to amend the constitution in favour of the Madheshi, which share strong cultural and historic ties with India.

On Tuesday, 22 oil tankers were allowed to enter Nepal, a significant increase from the couple of vehicles allowed access since the strikes began.

For the first time in more than two weeks, petrol pumps also distributed fuel from government stores, amounting to 750,000 litres. However, many people were forced to return without refueling, even after spending 12 hours queuing up with their vehicles.

“I dragged my motorbike for nearly an hour to the petrol pump and then stood in the line all day but I still get no petrol,” said Ananta Adhikari, who had to return home disappointed.

Highways connecting Nepal and China also opened Tuesday. The roads were repaired after the April 25 earthquake but subsequently damaged by torrential monsoon rains in August.

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