Madhesi activists recapture Miteri Bridge, vehicles enter India but none into Nepal

Madhesi activists have recaptured the Miteri Bridge which Nepalese security forces had opened only hours earlier amid a sweeping operation early Monday morning. It was the first time the crucial bridge was opened in nearly 40 days as it remained controlled by activists staging sit-in protests in the no-man’s land.

A heavy contingent of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force had pushed the occupying protesters away from the bridge. Police told local media that it had used ‘some force’ to contain the situation because protesters pelted police with stones and other projectiles.

Security forces successfully escorted over 300 vehicles with Indian number plates into India. However, the process was not reciprocated from across the border which only meant the continued blockade of around 500 vehicles carrying essential commodities to Nepal. Earlier reports had pointed out that Nepalese and Indian officials were in dialogue to facilitate the safe passage of the trucks to Nepal.

In the mean time, the district administration in Parsa has imposed indefinite curfew at Birgunj. Claiming that the situation has gone out of control, the local authorities announced the curfew from 3 pm local time.

Miteri Bridge this morning. Picture courtesy: Onlinekhabar.

It is noteworthy that the held trucks and tankers carrying petroleum products and other indispensable commodities have already cleared the Indian customs formalities but remain stalled along the Indo-Nepal border. India says they are not being let go because of ‘security concerns’.

The Miteri Pool or the Friendship Bridge, which celebrates the open relationship between the two South Asian neighbours, has been under the complete control of Madhesi activists as they continue against the new constitution which they believe does not ascertain equal rights to Nepalese citizens of Indian origin, the Madhesis.

The agitators were pushed out of the bridge between 4 to 5 am local time. The heavy security operation offered a respite to the local communities in Birgunj, who, reports indicate, are equally frustrated with the entire blockade saga as much as their fellow citizens in the capital city as well as in other major cities of the landlocked nation.

The cross-border trade route between Birgunj and Raxaul plays a pivotal role in keeping the Himalayan nation supplied with day to day necessities, fuel most importantly. Nearly 70% of its imports come through this entry point, a reason why the agitating activists have tried to so vigorously to keep it shut so that Kathmandu feels the pressure.

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