Nepal minister assures solution to the community agitating over new constitution

The members of marginalized groups demand their own separate province. Historically the two majority-Hindu nations have been close allies, sharing an open border crossed regularly by more than 3 million Nepalis who hold jobs in northern India. Many of them are married to Indians and have relatives in India.

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“Now our PM is back in India (from the United States of America visit), I would request him to take cognizance of the Nepal situation”. The groups include the Madhesi and Tharu ethnic minorities who mainly inhabit the country’s southern plains. But rather than welcoming the new phrase, India expressed its discontent and merely “noted” the development. It has since imposed an undeclared blockade of Nepal, creating shortage of petroleum and other essential products.

But Nepal has also felt ignored by India in recent years.

The allegations by Khadga Prasad Oli, the chief of the Unified Marxist-Leninist(UML) party, comes as a large crowd of angry Nepalese demonstrators protesting against a recently passed national constitution have been blocking a major trading checkpoint between the two countries for several days. Mr Rae said the government and the people of India have always worked with Nepal to ensure peace and stability in Nepal. However, Indian officials have denied that there is a blockade: they claim that they have only instituted restrictions due to security reasons.

Madhesis who had been demonstrating in the eastern part of the country have escalated their protests since last week. “The protest is taking place at border points with Indian endorsement and it’s indeed a blockade enforced tactfully”, says Yubaraj Ghimire, editor of Annapurna Post, a leading newspaper from Kathmandu.

India’s reluctance to clear the protesters to allow supply trucks to come in has been seen by Nepali officials as twisting Nepal’s arm to force a change in the constitution to meet the demands of the Madhesis. Meanwhile, Nepal’s major parties yesterday started talks with the agitating Madhesi parties to find a solution to the Terai problem through peaceful means.

With such intricacies attached, the Constitutional announcement caused a new imbroglio- where, dissent turned into protest, cities faced a lock-down, and police were put to action to quell any form of state unrest. Nepal now has few options but to wait. “We don’t want this type of friendship”.

Nepal enshrined its first constitution written by representatives of the people on September 20. According to Subash Nembang, speaker of the assembly, 89% of the 601 lawmakers participated in the process and 85% of those supported passing the constitution. As he said: “Nepal has adopted a Constitution, and like all other constitutions in the world, this too will mature and evolve”. “But it is India’s stand that the ongoing agitation in the region along India’s border should be addressed through dialogue and consensus”.

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“It is affecting Nepalese life in a big way as not only transportation, our hospitals and schools are gradually being closed down due to the shortage of fuel“, he said while talking to Kathmandu-based foreign media here.

Nepalese waving national flags celebrating in Kathmandu