A general strike imposed by smaller political parties protesting a proposed new constitution that would split Nepal into six federal states has crippled daily life across the Himalayan nation.

Markets and schools remained closed across the country on Monday while highways were deserted.

In the capital Kathmandu, government workers walked to work while most private offices remained closed. There were only a few vehicles on the streets.

Security has been stepped up with riot police guarding key areas in Kathmandu.

The protesters disagree with the plan to set up six federal states as decided by the major political parties in the constitution draft that is expected to be voted on later this month in the Constituent Assembly.