Nepal today declared as martyrs five Madhesi activists who were killed in police firing in the country's Saptari region during a protest against the local body elections.
The United Democratic Madhesi Front activists were killed on March 6 when police opened fire to disperse their supporters who had encircled the venue of a meeting of the main opposition party CPN-UML in Saptari district.
The Madhesi parties were protesting in support of their demand to re-demarcate the provincial boundary through Constitution amendment before conducting the local polls.
Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi handed over 1 million Nepali Rupees each to the kin of the victims at a function in Rajbiraj of Saptrai today.
Nidhi said the government has formed a three-member committee led by former Chief Justice of Appellate Court to probe the firing incident.
The local-level polls are taking place across Nepal after a gap of 20 years. First round of the elections were held on May 14. The second round of polls will be held on June 14.
They should be held in every five years but due to political instability, they were halted since May 1997.
Some Madhes-centric parties have opposed the elections until the Constitution is amended to accommodate their views: more representation in parliament and redrawing of provincial boundaries.
The Nepal government has tabled a new Constitution amendment bill in the Parliament to address the demands of the agitating Madhesi parties ahead of the local elections.
Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, launched a prolonged agitation between September 2015 and February last year against the implementation of the new Constitution which they felt marginalised the Terai community.