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Nepal Police Clear Border Blockade

A man walks near a truck at Birgunj, a town on the border with India, Nepal, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.
A man walks near a truck at Birgunj, a town on the border with India, Nepal, Monday, Nov. 2, 2015.

Police in Nepal raided the campsite of protesters blocking a border crossing with India Monday morning, resulting in the re-opening up a key checkpoint that had been blocked for 40 days. Hundreds of vehicles, including fuel and other cargo trucks, had been stranded in the blockade.

Officials said the border blockade had created a crippling fuel shortage in Nepal.

Trucks have begun crossing from Nepal into India, but it is not clear if traffic is moving from India to Nepal.

Protesters from the Madhesi community who live along the Nepal-India border had pitched tents at the crossing, which carries 80 percent of Nepal's trade and goods. They want the government to amend the constitution adopted in September to give them better representation in government and parliament.

Last month, Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit said there were eight-kilometer-long petrol queues at gas stations because of the blockade and "ordinary people have not been able to get about, their essential supplies are running out, schools have been closed and hospitals have been running out of medicine."

The shortages have triggered intense anger with India in Nepal, which accuses New Delhi of colluding with the Madhesis to mount the unofficial blockade. Nepal blames Indian security forces for not stopping the protesters when they flee into Indian territory to escape Nepalese police.

The Madhesis have close cultural and economic ties to Indians and New Delhi is sympathetic to their demands for greater inclusion in parliament and government. However, India has denied being responsible for the blockade.

Authorities say more than 40 people have been killed in clashes between police and the Madhesi that began earlier this year.

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