Two killed in ensuing clashes with police as youths denied to take EPS examinations for Korea job torch Minister Jwala’s vehicle

Published On: December 30, 2023 07:50 AM NPT By: Samiksha Shrestha

KATHMANDU, Dec 30: A protest over the Employment Permit System (EPS) examination took an ugly turn when youths set ablaze the vehicle of Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala in the Gwarko-Balkumari road section of Lalitpur, on Friday. 

The vehicle with registration number Ba 2 Jha 5861 was set ablaze by a group of youths who had gathered to protest in front of the EPS office at Gwarko, Lalitpur since early morning, said sources. The protesting youths also blocked the road section.

According to the Spokesperson for Nepal Police, DIG Kuber Kadayat, a group of youths burned Minister Jwala's vehicle out of frustration for not being allowed to fill the application form for the EPS examination.

"The minister was rescued and sent to the Singha Durbar safely," said DIG Kadayat. 

Death of two individuals

In a tragic incident that unfolded, two agitating youths lost their lives during a clash with the police in Balkumari of Lalitpur. The two, who sustained injuries during the protest, died while undergoing treatment. Among them, one died at Patan Hospital while the other died while undergoing treatment at Kist Hospital, police said.

Sujan Raut, 23, a resident of Dailekh, who was taken to Kist Hospital in Imadol for treatment sustaining injuries in the clash, breathed his last at the hospital, according to police sources. 

Amish Pathak, the hospital's CEO, informed Republica that Raut was brought to the hospital in an unconscious state at 12:40 pm and was declared dead at 1:17 pm. No gunshot wounds were observed on his body, but there were bruises on the chest.

Central Police Spokesperson DIG Kadayat said that another deceased has been identified as Birendra Shahi of Doti.

The cause of their death has not yet been ascertained. It is said that the exact cause of death will only be determined after the post-mortem examination.

54 individuals arrested in minister's vehicle arson incident

Police have arrested 54 individuals in connection with the incident of setting Minister Jwala's vehicle on fire at Gwarko in Lalitpur.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Nabraj Karki of the District Police Range, Lalitpur stated that 54 people were detained by the police for their alleged involvement in setting fire to the vehicle of Minister for Physical, Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala on the Gwarko-Balkumari road section of Lalitpur on Friday afternoon.

Police resorted to force after the EPS examinees set fire to Minister Jwala’s vehicle.

Home Ministry forms probe committee to investigate Balkumari incident

The Ministry of Home Affairs has formed a three-member committee to probe the incident that resulted in the death of two individuals.

The probe committee, led by DIG Lalmani Acharya of Kathmandu Valley Police Office, includes Assistant Chief District Officer (CDO) of Lalitpur Amardeep Sunuwar and Deputy Investigation Director of the National Investigation Department Basu Sigdel. The committee has been given a deadline of seven days to submit a report.

The incident unfolded as protesting youths, denied to fill forms for the Employment Permit System (EPS) examination, set the minister's vehicle on fire, leading to the police firing tear gas shells. Tragically, two individuals lost their lives in the ensuing clashes between the two sides.

Minister Jwala asserts no involvement of himself or his Ministry in Balkumari incident

Minister Jwala said that he was en route to the party's central committee meeting and said that the vehicle was burnt on the road after he was pulled out of the vehicle. 

In a media briefing after the party meeting, he expressed his sorrow over the incident in the Balkumari area. He said that neither he nor his ministry had any involvement in the incident. 

Jwala added that there was no reason to set fire to the vehicle. 

He said, "The incident that happened in the Balkumari area, our vehicle was also set on fire. I am sorry for this incident. It is also tragic that people were killed and injured. We have no information, no prior knowledge, no connection or concern regarding the incident that happened in Balkumari. It has nothing to do with our ministry. As the vehicle was passing through the area, it was stopped, the tires were removed, and then set on fire. A vehicle travelling on the road without any apparent reason, unrelated to any specific concern became the target. There is no justification for setting our vehicles on fire. I am not well-informed about the shootings, individuals being shot, confrontations between the police and the protestors. The vehicle was surrounded and set ablaze. This is deeply regrettable. I lack sufficient information about other incidents. Our ministry is entirely uninvolved in this case."

High Court issues order to permit all those who took ‘shipbuilding’ examinations to  apply for manufacturing sector exam

The Patan High Court has issued an order to permit all participants who have applied for ‘shipbuilding’ to take the Employment Permit System (EPS) examination.

Hearing on the writ petition filed by a group of Korea job aspirants including Ganesh Rai, a single bench of the High Court Judge Chandramani Gyawali issued an order to allow all aspirants to fill applications and participate in the examination process.

The court order states that an interim order has been issued in accordance with Rule 42(1) of the High Court Rules, 2073 BS in the name of the defendants ordering them not to obstruct the applicants along with those having similar interests from filling the application form opened on 2080/9/2 as per the notice issued on 2080/8/19 and allow them to fill the examination forms. The defendants should be informed about the order as per the rules.

The EPS decision that triggered protest

Youths, who failed the exam for a shipbuilding job in Korea, had been protesting outside the EPS Korea branch since Thursday. 

They were demanding that they be allowed to sit for EPS examinations for jobs in other areas including manufacturing and agriculture sector in Korea. EPS in Nepal had decided to not allow those who failed in shipbuilding examinations to take part in EPS examinations for manufacturing and agriculture jobs in Korea this year.

The youths were not allowed to enter through the branch gate as security measures were tightened since Thursday morning.

Every year, South Korea takes workers from Nepal through the EPS system, especially in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Korea also opened applications for workers for ship building on December 18.  According to the EPS branch, 32,000 people have applied for the job.

The EPS branch had previously issued a notice saying that those who had joined the Korean language test in other fields in 2023 will not be eligible to apply again for the manufacturing sector.

After not being able to sit for the EPS examinations for the jobs in the manufacturing sector, 18 people, including Suraj Pathak, who sat for examinations for the shipbuilding job, filed a case in the Patan High Court demanding that they be allowed to apply for the examination in the manufacturing sector. 

The Patan High Court issued an interim order allowing the 18 people who filed a case on December 21 to participate in the examination application for employment in the manufacturing sector. According to the order of the court, the branch allowed 18 people to file applications, while denying others the same on Friday.

The protesters insisted that EPS should not have opened the application as late as December 18 of this year. With January 2024 only twelve days away, they find the late application opening mysterious. Despite studying for an extended period, they expressed frustration for not being allowed to take the examinations for employment in Korea.

The application period, as per the demand, was fixed from December 18 to December 22, with specific criteria. Those who previously applied for the ship-building sector and failed, were disqualified for the manufacturing sector.

During the protest, young people studying the Korean language for many years and preparing for the 2024 intake were informed that they were not eligible to take the exam in the quota published in 2023, leading to their frustration. Their major complaint stems from failing the 2023 exam despite scoring 37 points.

In the last fiscal year 2022/23, a total of 22,922 Nepali youth workers reached Korea. Out of which 16,681 were new workers and 6,241 old workers who went back to Korea. Nepal is at the forefront of sending workers to Korea through the EPS system. A labourer going to Korea has a term of four years and 10 months.

“A total of 9,000 Nepalis youth are currently listed in the roster of workers going to Korea. Out of which 6000 are in the production sector and 3000 in the agriculture sector. There are 3,000 old workers among those listed. Among the old workers, 2,500 are from the manufacturing sector and 500 in the agricultural sector,” EPS Chief Subedi said.

Nepal and Korea signed a memorandum of understanding for EPS for the first time on July 23, 2007. As per the agreement, Korea has been hiring the required manpower via EPS. Korea started taking Nepali workers through the EPS system since 2008. According to the branch, more than 100,000 Nepali youths have reached Korea so far. Currently, around 50,000 Nepali workers are working in Korea.

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