No one believes India that Madhesis are causing the blockade in Nepal

India needs to amend its current policy on Nepal, says DP Tripathi  

Shireen Azam and Abeer Kapoor Delhi

NCP General Secretary Devi Prasad Tripathi has lashed out at India’s blockade of goods to Nepal. Tripathi said that India’s behaviour reveals a colonial mindset and it is trying to press Nepal under its thumb. “It’s a continuation of the same old policy, that you push them and expect them to do as you wish”. Nepal adopted a new constitution in September 2015, making a historic move from being a Hindu monarchy to a “secular” state. The new constitution, however, was met by protests by the Madhesi people who live along the India-Nepal border in the Terai region. They claim that the federal-provincial demarcation has been unfair and that the Madhesis have not been justly accounted for. India had expressed concerns over the discontent of the Madhesis maintaining that the unrest in the border can affect India as well.

However, this concern seems to have been shrewdly accompanied by the mysterious blockade of essential goods and services to Nepal. There is a larger belief that Indian agencies have a role in enforcing this blockade. The Nepal Home Ministry Spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakalhad stated that "Indian security personnel have prevented cargo trucks from crossing the border," adding that "Among thousands of trucks stuck on the Indian side of the border are nearly 400 fuel tankers, and trucks carrying cooking gas."  Accepting that India has a prime role in the blockade, Tripathi said that “There can be differences in opinion and they can be discussed, but it shouldn’t affect common people. India’s decision has affected buses, schools, hospitals, ambulances. This is something of extreme importance and the current policy should be changed immediately.” Nepal is facing a huge shortage of essentials good for the last two months because the land-locked country is heavily dependent on goods coming from India.

India has shirked its role in the blockade, saying that it are the Madhesi protesters who are responsible. “It’s a lie”, says Tripathi, “that India is sending the goods and the Madhesis are blocking it, it’s a lie because if India is sending the goods, Nepalis are ready to take it. Then why isn’t it happening.” Citing these concerns, a Consultative Committee met on November 21, the first time when the committee met to discuss one country alone. Tripathi said that this issue will be raised in Parliament as well.

“Why should India have a grouse with Nepal’s constitution, it’s for Nepal to think. But even if India has a problem, Nepal is ready to amend it. The Indian government should have been happy that Nepal is getting a constitution.” Tripathi exclaimed. Further, Tripathi suggested three immediate steps that should be taken to maintain the ideal of “open border” with Nepal. Firstly, the blockade should be ended immediately and there should be an uninterrupted supply of essential communities. Secondly, India should accept the sovereignty of independent countries especially when it’s a neighbour. Third, further efforts have to be made to better economic relations with Nepal.

Fresh clashes in two different places in Saptari district of Nepal were reported on Saturday with two Madhesi protesters killed in police firing and 44 persons, including two policemen injured.