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100 days of Indian imposed blockade in Nepal and anti-Indian protests

Amna Razzaq

It is widely understood in India and Nepal that the two countries are more than just neighbors; the relationship is “special.” One aspect of this is that the Indian establishment has always viewed Nepal as being within India’s larger security envelope in relation to China. Some observers see Nepal as not landlocked but “India-landlocked.” On three sides, Nepal borders India, while another neighbor, China, is separated by the Himalayas, including Mount Everest itself. Unsurprisingly, then, India has always held sway over Nepal, but what is noteworthy is that India’s influence in Nepali politics has intensified over the past few decades, especially after the advent of multi-party democracy in 1990, when Nepal’s monarchy ceded power to party leaders. Indeed, Nepal’s relationship with India is strongly tinged by the British colonial era, although Nepal never became a formal colony. But relations in the post-1990 era have shown a consistent trend of increasing and mostly unwarranted Indian interference in Nepal’s affairs. A zone of peace, Nepal has been facing unnatural and unbalance economic sanctions from Republic of India for last many decades. India, the so called biggest democracy of the world has however maintained her hegemonies and once again imposed an undeclared blockade on Nepal bound goods from the east to west as southern neighbor has expressed dissatisfaction over promulgation of new constitution of Nepal this year which created resentment and anger among Nepalese and the according to the media reports, the cable TV operators in Nepal had reportedly blocked 42 Indian channels in protest against what they call an unofficial “blockade of goods” into the country. However these protests have been increased for last couple of days in various forms to mark completion of 100 days of Indian imposed blockade against Nepal on 21 November 2015. Most of the Indian channels blocked by cable operators are Hindi news channels besides a couple of English news channels including NDTV, ABP News, Times Now, Aaj Tak etc. Nepalese television networks suspended Indian TV channel broadcasts for two days, while cinemas stopped showing hugely popular Bollywood films because they said there was not enough fuel to run generators. The ban on Indian channels came into effect after Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (CPN-M) held a rally inKathmandu in which, it called for ban on these channels and also threatened to attack vehicles of Indian embassy. On 28 November, the party claimed that its cadres have set ablaze a vehicle of Indian embassy. However, Indian embassy is trying to down play the incident. India had expressed particular concern over the weeks of protests leading up to the constitution’s passage. Though there have been no deaths for at least 10 days as people from Nepal’s southern plains stage sit-ins at major border points with India hoping to force Kathmandu meet their demands. Student organizations affiliated with ruling parties such as Nepali Congress and CPN (UML), as well as the main opposition party UCPN-Maoist, staged protest rallies against the blockade in Kathmandu, Gulariya and several parts of the country. Hundreds of local people near Bhairahawa’s custom checkpoint chased away the agitators who were sitting on the Nepo-India border to obstruct the Sunauli border point. India’s CPI-Marxist slams India’s Modi government for ‘arrogant intervention’ in Nepal. CPI-Marxists called upon the Central Government to ensure country-to-country and people-to-people relations between India and Nepal. CPI-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechuri said, “The constitution was an internal matter of Nepal and that there is no point in taking an interventionist approach to a constitution that has been adopted by a majority”. In addition to these Thousands of students in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu formed a 27km human chain to protest against a border blockade. The blockade has led to severe fuel shortages, forcing schools to extend holidays and cut down on classes. Nepal has accused India of imposing an “undeclared blockade,” which India denies. These students from Maitri School in Kathmandu took part in the protest and sent us this message. Moreover, a group of students also handed over an appeal letter addressed to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, drawing his attention towards the humanitarian crisis faced by Nepali people due to the blockade.
However it is not for the first time that India has violated international laws, rather she is accustomed to such kind of violations in the past as well. Although, Nepal is weak, small and poor, India can learn a lot from Nepal’s democracy practices, human rights works and human security attempts. Nepal’s human rights stalwart Professor Kapil Shrestha said, “India shall learn a lot on moral values, norms and principles of democracy and human rights from the newly established democratic country Nepal”. None of the civilized governments introduce hypocrisy in the name of democracy. The imposition of transit warfare is the principal example of “demon” and “crazy”, deriving from democracy. Nepalis are afraid of being Bhutanization and Bhutanization may turn to the process of Sikkimization. Evidences have shown that India plays major role behind internal chaos and political instability since the unification of the modern Nepal but I would like to argue here that Nepal’s sovereignty must be respected. Diplomacy is not persisted diligently and the world leaders must think seriously before considering India a permanent member to UN.

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