Nepal Foreign Affairs (Kathmandu, 27 September) – Pushing Nepal to the brink through economic blockade and lying to the rest of the world that it’s not a blockade, India is forcing Nepal to look around which may not be pleasing for the peace and security of entire South Asia. While India waits for Nepal to give in, the mood in Kathmandu is just opposite. Its leaders are reaching out to several unconventional measures, which will cost India a heavy price if situation worsens.
Nepal’s political sphere has always been influenced by India’s position on key issues, more so since it mediated the 2005 deal, despite the US attempt to block it, between democratic parties and insurgent Maoists. The deal is famously known as 12-point agreement, which laid the foundation of the abolition of monarchy in Nepal. Since then, Indian support has been a key driving factor of Nepal’s political process.
Although India has officially refrained from commenting or taking sides in domestic matters, it has taken lead in resolving issues on decisive occasions. India is said to have some key objectives in Nepal:
- It has repeatedly stood for a new constitution in Nepal as instability at the backyard could have political and security implications for itself. This is an official line. But there are skeptics who think, there is a discrepancy between what India says and what it actually does. This group believes India wants a situation of a ‘controlled anarchy’ to keep its king-maker status intact. This argument gets ground in the present context as well. Before announcing street protests, leaders of competing Madhesi parties held a joint meeting with the Indian Ambassador to Nepal and asked him to convey their concerns to the Indian government regarding what they think about the draft constitution. Nepal’s Home Minister Bamdev Gautam said in the parliament that there was an infiltration from South (meaning India) in Kailali of Tikapur, where eight policemen on duty were brutally murdered on August 24. And most importantly, on 30 August, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke the Indian view point regarding Madhes. He later refuted having said so. The refusal came in because this statement made it difficult for the Madhesi parties to save their face. What he said was reported like this by India Today Magazine:
“Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the Indian government is concerned about Indians living in Nepal, considering its present political situation. Although the Madhesi problem is an internal issue of Nepal, the Indian government will protect the interests of the one crore Indians living there,” Singh said, during his visit to Maharajganj on Sunday (30 August).
He was there to unveil an outpost of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and lay the foundation stone of its proposed new building. The home minister’s visit is being considered crucial at this point of time because the entire Terai area along the UP-Nepal border is caught in violent clashes between the natives and Madhesis.
Madhesis are Indians who had migrated to Nepal years ago. While many have received Nepali citizenship, majority of them are still without a nationality. The Madhesis have alleged that several political and militant organisations have been targeting them and inflicting atrocities to force them to leave Nepal. However, the BJP has been supporting the Madhesis for long.
Yogi Adityanath, BJP MP from Gorakhpur and Mahant of Gorakshnath Temple, has often been alleged for providing logistic support to the movement of the Madhesis against the Nepal government.
The idea behind supporting Madhesis is that they are predominantly Hindus. However, some Indian Muslims and Christians are also there. The southern region of Nepal, running along UP, Bihar and West Bengal, is known as Madhes. Madhesis, who constitute 30 per cent of Nepal’s population live in the Terai area. But 40 per cent of these Madhesis still don’t have a citizenship or the right to vote. They claim that the Nepal government deliberately ignores the Terai area to relegate them.
Large-scale violence has erupted along areas of Maharajganj and Siddharthnagar. While the Nepal government had invited them for talks, the Sanyukt Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha, an umbrella organisation of the Madhesis on Saturday, had refused to participate in any meeting convened by Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.”
- India’s external Intelligence agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) has its own objectives in Nepal. It wants to fight the perceived anti-Indian forces present in Nepal and operates secretly. RAW operates with sophistication at the political level. For example, it was the main driving force to isolate the Maoists during 2009-2010 periods. In his book ‘Battles of the New Republic’, journalist Prashant Jha has detailed RAW strategy to finish the Maoist party after bringing it to the political mainstream.
(Read the main part of RAW’s Maoist strategy in Nepal:
But RAW also uses of unconventional approach to finish the ‘anti-India element with criminal orientations.’ This organization has been blamed for the 1998 murder of Mirza Dilshad Beg, a Member of Parliament, who was without evidence said to be involved in fake Indian currency crimes in association with Pakistani Intelligence
Similarly RAW is said to have staged the murder of Nepal’s media tycoon Jamim Shah in 2010. Security reports of both of these cases have been shelved.
After BJP has come to power in India, RAW is said to have been trying to reverse Nepal towards a Hindu State. Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement (mentioned above) justifies this as his party MP Yogi Adityanath, who had cried in the Indian Parliament when Nepal was declared a secular republic in 2008, is supporting pro-Hindu groups in Nepal. To raise a larger support, more time was asked for constitution writing.
However, Nepal, though a small but proudly sovereign country on progressive path has so many instruments at its disposal that it can make India’s life miserable. Sovereignty means alternatives. And it is unlimited. Only the leaders of a country should know how to use it. Current diplomatic standoff may not go very far but a resolute Nepali state and an unforeseen unity among Nepal’s major political parties can make things so worse for India that it can get one of its worst nightmares from an unlikely Nepal. For starters, just think of China, Pakistan and Myanmar, where Nepal can without doubt mobilize public opinion. Pakistan is waiting a trigger. Myanmar has a huge Nepali speaking population, though not influential. Once these things come into play, which is likely in case of a continued stalemate, Delhi will be trapped in the maze of its own make. Pushing Nepal to ‘marata kya nahin karta’ stage, comes with a huge price for Delhi. Having withdrawn from some of the statements of the Ministry of External Affairs, India has already been reduced to a subject of global scorn, and so right before the UN General Assembly.
India should stop patronizing Nepal’s Madhesi leaders and should diplomatically encourage Kathmandu to seek solutions to its domestic problems. Back off India!