Nepal police fire teargas to break up fuel price protests

Published June 21, 2022
Police personnel try to stop students affiliated with the main opposition party as they take out a torch rally during a protest against the rise in fuel prices in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 20, 2022. — Reuters
Police personnel try to stop students affiliated with the main opposition party as they take out a torch rally during a protest against the rise in fuel prices in Kathmandu, Nepal on June 20, 2022. — Reuters

KATHMANDU: Police in Nepal’s capital fired teargas and charged at protesters with sticks on Monday to break up a demonstration by students against fuel price hikes, officials and witnesses said, in a sign of growing public discontent over rising inflation.

State-owned monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) on Monday raised the price of one litre of petrol and diesel by 12pc and 16pc respectively, prompting fears of broader price hikes. Protesters from the All Nepal National Free Student Union (ANNFSU), the student wing of the main opposition Nepal Communist Party (Unified Marxist-Leninist) clashed with police after they were stopped from rallying in Kathmandu.

“This is an act of the government’s sheer irresponsibility,” Girish Thagunna, a protester, said, referring to the price hike. “This is wrong and should be withdrawn immediately.” Dinesh Mainali, a police official, said protesters threw stones and damaged a police vehicle but that there were no injuries or arrests.

Fares for public transport and goods vehicles had been increased by up to 7.7pc following the fuel price increase, local authorities said. Nepal’s 29 million people are facing a surge in food and energy prices, raising the risk of social unrest. Annual retail inflation accelerated to a six-year high of 7.87pc in mid-May.

Supplies Minister Dilendra Prasad Badu told a parliamentary committee on Monday that the hike was necessary because of an increase in global oil prices and to help the loss-making NOC to pay for imports.

Published in Dawn,June 21st, 2022

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