Activists of the United Democratic Madhesi Front burn tires at a Birgunj crossroads during the Madhes shutdown called by the front Wednesday. The front has announced a series of protests against the government announcement of the local elections without first amending the constitution.
JANAKPUR/ RAJBIRAJ, Feb 23: The Tarai-Madhes banda called by the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) in protest of the local level election date announcement by the government brought life in the southern plains to a grinding halt on Wednesday.
In Saptari, private and government schools, public transport, factories and government offices remained closed throughout the day. The protestors vandalized furniture and broke windowpanes of the District Education Office.
Similarly, the banda crippled life in the district headquarters Rajbiraj along with Bardaha, Kanchanpur, Barsain, Kalyanpur, among other places of the district, according to District Police Office, Saptari.
On the other hand, no incident of vandalism or violence took place in Birgunj where the banda was fully enforced by UDMF cadres.
In Janakpur, however, the situation became tense following a clash between UDMF and CPN-UML cadres. The clash erupted as the UDMF supporters tried to enforce the banda while the UML cadres tried to defy it.
According to the UDMF, UML cadres first attacked and injured two UDMF cadres who were enforcing the banda. Then the UDMF cadres responded by attacking a UML-affiliated journalist.
Eyewitnesses said that the UDMF cadres organized a motorcycle rally at around 9 am. The rally which started from Devi Chowk was headed for Thapa Chowk after passing through Janaki Chowk. When the rally reached the house of UML leader Raghubir Mahaseth at Bramhapuri, where UML Vice-Chairman and former Home Minster Bam Dev Gautam had been staying since Tuesday, the UDMF cadres shouted slogans louder against UML and the government.
In the meantime, a protestor threw a stone at Mahaseth's house and broke a windowpane. Then the UML cadres who had already gathered at Mahaseth's house attacked and injured two protestors.
Rajkumar Sah, a cadre of Sadbhawana Party, broke his leg while another protestor Kuldip Sah sustained head injuries in the attack.
Gautam had to reach the local airport to board a plane for Kathmandu. However, the protestors had warned him not to come out of the house and board a vehicle to reach the airport, arguing that it would be seen as defiance of the banda.
But the former home minister ignored the warning and reached the airport in a vehicle amid tight security at around 12 pm. The area became tense following Gautam's exit from the house. In the meantime, UML-affiliated journalist Shital Sah came out of Mahaseth's house at around 1 pm and headed for his home at Piradi Chowk.
Sah was attacked on the way by the protestors who accused him of protecting Gautam. Sah who sustained severe injuries in the head is undergoing treatment at Janakpur Zonal Hospital.