Kathmandu, Nepal (BBN) – Has India really imposed an economic blockade against Nepal as it did in 1989? Kathmandu is now seeking answer to this question from New Delhi, reports Nepal Times.
Nepal’s acting Foreign Affairs Minister Khag Raj Adhikari on Friday sought clarifications from Indian ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae on why Nepali tankers and containers are facing difficulties at border points.
Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is yet to release a press note on how Rae replied to Adhikari. But India’s Ministry of External Affairs has issued yet another press statement, saying it is aware of obstructions (of freight movement) at various entry-exit points at the India-Nepal border but blamed unrest, protests and demonstrations on the Nepali side for this.
India denied imposing a blockade but said: “As was already said on 21 September 2015, our freight forwarders and transporters had voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security fears, due to the prevailing unrest.”
After Nepal promulgated its new constitution on 20 September without the consent of Madhesi parties, India has expressed its displeasure in a way never seen before since 1990. It has urged Nepal to amend the new constitution by securing ‘widest possible agreement’.
India’s latest statement read: “Nepal’s leadership needs to address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation credibly and effectively. Issues of differences should be resolved and institutionalized with broad-based ownership and acceptance.”
Although India has denied imposing an economic blockade, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has not been able to import fuel since Thursday. There are also reports about Indian security force manhandling Nepali tanker operators who crossed over the border to bring fuel.
India says the blockade is because of political unrest in the Tarai. Madhesis and Tharus who have disowned the constitution have blocked border entry points and the East West Highway to cut off supplies to Kathmandu to force the NC-UML-UCPN (M) to address their demands.
But India has unofficially sealed its border even in the eastern Nepal where there are no protests by Madhesis and Tharus. Janajatis who are also unhappy with the new constitution have already called off their strike following confrontations with local people. But more than 200 containers carrying clinkers, marbles and vegetables are stuck in Panitanki across the Mechi River and continue to wait clearance from Indian authorities.
On the other hand, hundreds of protesters have blocked a major trading checkpoint between India and Nepal, cutting off vital supplies to the landlocked Himalayan nation as anger deepened over the country’s new constitution, Aljazeera reported.
The protesters, who belong to the Madhesi community, said on Friday that they were angry about plans to divide the country into seven federal provinces under the charter adopted last Sunday.
“We blocked the crossing overnight and we will not budge until the government listens to us and makes changes to these new borders in the constitution,” said Shiva Patel, general secretary of the regional Sadbhawana party.
More than 40 people have died in weeks of clashes between police and protesters from the Madhesi and Tharu communities, ethnic minorities who say the new internal borders leave them under-represented in the national parliament.