Tarai Human Rights Defenders (THRD) Alliance expresses its concerns over the injuries of around a hundred of persons including pilgrims from Nepal and India due to clashes between protesters and police. The clashes had ensued after the Hon. president Bidya Devi Bhandari’s visit to Janakpur on the occasion of Ram-Janaki Bibah Mahotasava (Anniversary of Ram and Sita Marriage Ceremony) on December 16.
We also received reports from the ground about the acts of police thrashing people entering inside houses and private clinics located around the areas of Janaki Temple.
Immediately after President Bhandari observed the Pooja and came out of the temple, protesters hurled a petrol bomb and the stage and tent erected in the premises were torched. While the president was walking back from the temple, there was exchange of pelting stones at the temple premises from both protesters from all around and security personnel. Local demonstrators had also hurled stones at the President’s vehicle.
In the course of exchanging stones by security personnel, Human Rights Defender Birendra Karn of THRD Alliance sustained minor injuries.
During the monitoring of THRD Alliance, we found that security personnel charged batons, lobbed over 50 rounds of teargas shells, and opened four rounds in the air. The clash between the protestors and the police had continued for around four hours.
All the injured are receiving treatments at the Janakpur Zonal Hospital and local private clinics in Janakpur, district headquarters of Dhanusha.
We urge the concerned authorities to investigate into this incident and take action against those involved. We also urge the government to arrange free treatments to the injured.
This sudden incident has once again fueled sentiments of the local communities protesting against the government for the last four months. The heavy deployment of the security personnels in the temple and clashes with local demonstrators have caused disruption of their centuries-old tradition of commemorating the marriage of Hindu lord Ram and Sita. The incident occurred as a result of heavy deployment of security forces and use of force for President’s visit to Terai amid protests has terrified locals.
The recent disturbance in the festival celebration, which is attended by a large number of Indian pilgrims every year might affect religious tourism and centuries-old cultural relations between Jankapur and Ayodhya (UP-India). It has also affected the local business. There is fear among locals and businessmen that such large number of religious tourists may not come from the next year. The incident is likely to increase threats by protesters on Hindu religious priests serving in the temple.
Hence, we urge all the concerned to rebuild confidence of locals by ensuring security to them. This step needs to be immediately taken to normalize the terrified situation in Janakpur.