At least 20 municipal city police personnel were injured in clashes with people living in squatter settlements on the banks of the Bagmati River in Thapathali today.
More than 30 police personnel had gone to the squatter settlement today with excavators, but without proper safety equipment, in an attempt to clear temporary settlements and remove people living there. However, they had no inkling of what was in the offing.
Cops were holding talks with the people when a group of people started hurling stones and bricks at them. The cops had to fend for themselves with bare hands and when they tried to flee, the angry mob charged at them armed with whatever they could lay their hands on. Some even brandished khukuris. All the injured cops were rushed to the nearby Norvic hospital for treatment. Fortunately no one suffered serious injuries.
Kathmandu Municipal City Police Chief Rajunath Pandey said he was among the 20 KMC police personnel injured in clashes with squatters.
Later, anti-riot police from Nepal Police and Armed Police Force provided security in the area, while people there staged demonstrations, burning tyres and shouting slogans against the government. They also raised slogans against theHigh-Powered Committee for Integrated Development of Bagmati Civilization, which has been working to clear squatter settlements from the banks of the Bagmati River.
Authorities from the HPCID- BC were present when squatters clashed with KMC cops.
On November 11, the HP- CIDBC had issued a notice in a national daily asking people residing on the banks of the Bagmati and the Bishnumati rivers to vacate the area within 10 days. Hundreds of people residing on the banks of rivers in the valley had taken to the street demanding that the government scrap the decision.
Squatters blamed the government for trying to trick them by issuing the notice while campaigning for parliamentary and provincial elections was on. Bhagawati Adhikari, an activist of landless people said the govern-ment never treated them as citizens of Nepal and never hesitated to use force against them. "We have been a subject of government retribution and the use of force is not new to us. Some youths got angry today after municipality police tried to forcibly enter our settlements," Adhikari said. She said the constitution had ensured the right to home for all Nepalis, but the government had turned a deaf ear to their demands.
Squatters accused the government of not providing them with any alternative before trying to forcibly evict them.