Nepali police have killed an Indian man and injured several Nepalese after opening fire on demonstrators allegedly attacking a police station with stones and petrol bombs on the country’s southern border, Nepalese officials have said.
Police official Raju Bahadur Shrestha said six police officers were injured on Monday by protesters from the Madhesi ethnic minority.
“One of our officers was almost burned to death; we managed to rescue him,” Shrestha said.
Shrestha said the man killed was an Indian involved in the attack, identified as Ashish Kumar Ram.
Earlier, Indian police official Rakesh Kumar had said the man was on his way to the Nepalese town of Birgunj.
The attack happened about 300 metres inside Nepalese territory.
People from Nepal and India are not required to have documents or visas to cross each other’s borders.
Madhesi protesters say Nepal’s new constitution unfairly divides the Madhesis among a number of states, diluting their political power.
They are calling for a larger state and more political representation.
The protesters have imposed a general strike in southern Nepal and blocked the main border crossing between Birgunj in Nepal and Raxaul in India, resulting in a severe fuel shortage across Nepal.
At least 45 people have been killed in the protests since August.
The Madhesi have close cultural ties to India, whose officials have raised concerns about the new constitution’s treatment of Nepal’s ethnic minorities.
In New Delhi, Vikas Swarup, India’s external affairs ministry spokesman, said India was deeply concerned.
“Issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively,” Swarup said, adding that India was monitoring the situation.
Earlier on Monday, Nepalese police were able to clear protesters from the border point, allowing more than 200 trucks and vehicles to cross over to India.
However, hundreds of protesters were back at the bridge and completely blocked the border.
Police official Hobindra Bogati said five protesters were detained when police removed them and the tents they had pitched in the no-man’s land between the two countries.
He said that 205 trucks and other vehicles had crossed from Birgunj to Raxaul, India.
Earlier in the day, local political leader and an organiser of the protests, Purushottam Jha, said that “thousands of us” had reoccupied the bridge after being dispersed by security forces.
However, trucks bringing fuel and other goods to Nepal were still blocked by Indian customs officials.
An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Birgunj.
On Sunday, talks between the government and Madhesi representatives made some progress.
Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa said the government would address the Madhesis’ demand for a larger state through discussions with other political parties.
Initially, the government insisted that the matter of the size of states be resolved through a government-appointed commission, but Thapa said it would be discussed as a political issue, as demanded by the protesters.