Nepal Foreign Affairs (KATHMANDU, Nov 17) –
India must stop the ongoing proxy aggression against Nepal and advise the Madhesi leaders to work within the constitutional framework. Nepal must invest in cultivating assets, take national security seriously, and diversify its trade and resources.
Indian PM Modi must see that a humanitarian crisis is building in Nepal because of the blockade. School are closed for months, hospitals are running out of medicines, life-saving is becoming difficult. Nepal blockade is developing into a Nazi Gas Chamber. This is an ominous prestige a highly reputed leader like Modi will have. This is going too far.
“Nepal should set its house in order first” is New Delhi’s typical, thundering response to Nepal’s repeated calls to the ‘economic blockade’, apparently imposed to express Indian annoyance towards Nepal’s new, democratic constitution.
Nepal’s constitution is democratic and secular. But India’s current ruling dispensation had some other objectives. To put in the words of MK Bhadrakumar, one of the finest diplomats of India:
“They (Hindu Right) sold Modi a seductive dream – that if Nepal became a Hindu State, he would go down in India’s history as a latter-day Chandragupta Maurya. But the dream withered away.” (www.blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2015/09/23/modis-dream-merchants-messed-up-nepal-policies/. This intent was communicated to Nepal’s political class, which found it impossible to go down the Right Wing path in Nepal.
Then it became a prestige issue, a bruised ego for the Indian government. And then, eight districts of Nepal’s south, along the open Indian borders, started burning. Everything else, forwarded to justify this agitation, is bogus.
India has been telling the world over the past few months that it has imposed no blockade against Nepal. The ‘obstruction of supplies’ in the Indo-Nepal border checkpoints, to put in the words of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, is “due to the sit-in protests organized by Nepal’s Madhesi political parties”. Once the demands of these parties are addressed, says India, the blockages would cease to exist.
This makes India’s position an oxymoron: India has not blockaded Nepal, but to open the blockade Nepal must fulfill the demands of the Madhesi political parties.
Exposed? Wait, here is something more.
For a long time, the agitating parties didn’t know what their demands were. The agitation started in July; Nepal finally knew about the demands via Indian Express newspaper on 24th September: make seven changes to your constitution(www.indianexpress.com/article/world/neighbours/make-seven-changes-to-your-constitution-address-madhesi-concerns-india-to-nepal/ ).
In this context, here is collection of concrete evidences, which prove this is a blockade India has imposed, creating troubles in Nepal’s Madhes region:
- Sadbhawana Party is a key member of the agitating coalition. Its president Rajendra Mahato has unequivocally shared with the Indian Express newspaper, on 4th October, that he and his colleagues were instructed by Indian leaders to start agitation. Mahato admits, “We were told to start border demonstrations by BJP leaders..…What is good for India is good for us.” (indianexpress.com/article/india/politics/why-bihar-is-tracking-a-group-of-protesters-on-a-border-bridge/ ).
The question: Why take help of a crude lie if not guided by an ulterior motive? If Mahato is wrong, why not refute his statement? After all, Indian Embassy in Kathmandu is issuing rebuttals of the statement of every Tom, Dick and Harry.
- Member of the Upper Chamber of Indian parliament and opposition scholar Mani Shankar Aiyar believes the “Hindu State” intention, and adds that dirty politics was another reason why Indian government chose to blockade Nepal. In one of his most widely read columns with NDTV, Aiyar wrote on September 26:
“With Madhes running along the entire border with northern Bihar, Modi wants to score political points to push his party over the edge in the crucial coming Bihar election. He believes a pro-Madhesi posture will resonate with the Biharis who have strong ethnic ties with the Terai”. (www.ndtv.com/opinion/after-pakistan-modi-isolates-another-neighbour-1223237 )
So our request to PM Modi: It was a wrong move. Please see that a humanitarian crisis is building in Nepal because of the blockade. School are closed for months, hospitals are running out of medicines, life-saving is becoming difficult. Nepal blockade is being compared with the Nazi Gas Chamber. This is an ominous prestige you will have. This is going too far.
- Praveen Swami, another noted Indian Scholar, writes clearly that India is colluding with Madhes protesters to impose the blockade:
“Nepal’s police action is, in essence, a shrewd poker move: by raising its bet, it has forced India to either escalate, or leave the game. Ever since protests against Nepal’s new constitution began in the Terai region, New Delhi has been claiming the threat of violence is deterring truckers carrying fuel and supplies from crossing the border. Kathmandu, noting that India wasn’t using its influence to clear the road, claimed it was colluding in the blockade — an allegation that New Delhi has stoically denied”. (www.indianexpress.com/article/explained/in-fact-why-new-delhis-carrot-and-stick-policy-on-nepal-is-past-sell-by-date/#sthash.RMVPXtJV.dpuf )
This leads to another question: Why not leave Nepal on its own and let it solve its problems?
- After the blockade has been imposed, India’s former ambassador to Nepal Shiv Shankar Mukherji writes:
“Criticisms of India’s policy, in Nepal and here (In India), are misplaced. India should ignore the fulminations of armchair analysts, parachute pundits, and continue what it is doing: Point out to Nepal’s leaders that we’re concerned solely because instability in Nepal directly affects us across an open border.” (www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/News-analysis-India-should-ignore-criticism-of-its-Nepal-policy-continue-what-its-doing/articleshow/49098388.cms). In the same article he went on to incorrectly saying that Nepal mobilized half of its national Army in the Terai region, in his eyes, “to suppress the Madhes agitation”. But the fact had been that the Army was only securing vital installations as protesters were using brute violence. Total number of security personnel, including Nepal Police and Armed Police forces, mobilized in the 11 violent districts at the time was roughly 20,000.
This brings a fact: India has been advised by a powerful bureaucracy to use “strong-arm tactic” like blockade against Nepal. In doing so, they briefed falsehood to their political leadership.
- Just before the blockade started, see the flood of the statements of India’s Ministry of External Affairs. After the Indian Special Envoy S Jayashankar returned without success to stop the political process, India ominously “noted” the promulgation of new constitution in Nepal. (mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/25821/Statement+on+the+situation+in+Nepal). Then the next day, comes another statement which says Indian transporters had been refusing to travel to Nepal for the fear of violence, a veiled threat to start the blockade: (www.mea.gov.in/press-releases.htm?dtl/25825/Statement+on+the+situation+in+Nepal ). There are many other statements in the ministry website on Nepal.
This gives us a conclusion: Blockade was a well-planned policy prepared by India’s Foreign Ministry bureaucracy. They didn’t study Nepal’s constitution or had no interest in it since Indian advice was not entertained.
- Not only in Nepal and India, Mahmood Hasan, one of the best Bangladeshi columnists, writes in The Daily Star newspaper in Dhaka on October 19, under the title Delhi Plays “Big Brother” to Nepal: “… now the landlocked Himalayan nation has been locked by the big southern neighbour, India”.(thedailystar.net/op-ed/politics/delhi-plays-“big-brother”-nepal-159244 )
Fact: Despite India refusing, the region has seen through its lies.
- CNN writes: “For weeks, blockades along the border between Nepal and India have caused fuel shortages.Now the tiny South Asian nation says it’s running out of medicine”. (cnn.com/2015/11/10/asia/nepal-border-blockade-drugs/ ). While trying to be neutral, it doesn’t clearly say India imposed the blockade but there are enough inferences. ´
This naturally leads to a question: Border blockade is India’s problem too. Why doesn’t it help Nepal authorities to clear the protesters who run away into Indian territories as soon as Nepal security forces intervene?
- The most sinister of the Indian statements came by its Home Minister Raj Nath Singh on August 31. While addressing a border program in the Indian side, he said, India would do everything to protect the interest of the Indian origin Hindus in Nepal. (indiatoday.intoday.in/story/india-concerned-about-madhesis-in-nepal-after-the-atrocities-against-the-community-rajnath-singh/1/461958.html )
Fact: Nepal’s refusal to become Hindu state is seen as not protecting the interest of the Hindus. Hence Blockade.
- Mail Today writes: “The Madhesis had fought against Maoists along the Indo-Nepal border with indirect support of many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders a decade ago. But now they are gearing up to fight the way the Maoists used to during their guerilla warfare days in Nepal.” (indiatoday.intoday.in/story/fight-for-right-madhesis-set-chhat-deadline-for-nepal-govt/1/522146.html )
Fact: India is clearly using, and equipping the Madhesis against Nepali state.
- See here the statements from European Unioneeas.europa.eu/delegations/nepal/documents/press_corner/2015.09.22_en.pdf
and the United Nations Secretary General (www.nepalforeignaffairs.com/united-nations-secretary-general-asked-india-to-lift-economic-blockade-against-nepal/ ), both underlining Nepal’s right to free transit. Both have urged India to lift the Nepal blockade.
So, our request to India: Nepal has always looked up to India for consolidation of democracy. Please stop lying, a solution would be found.