The Government of Nepal today made a direct reference to the ongoing blockade by India and has urged the latter to ease the disrupted transit of Nepalese imports so that its citizens could peacefully celebrate the upcoming festivals of Tihar and Chhath Puja.
Although its tone matched that of its Indian counterpart which lately has shown signs of reconciliation with its age-old former friend, this is the most official and direct reference the Nepalese government has made in relation to the Indian blockade.
Analysts believe three developments may have resulted in the softening stance of the Modi Government – Nepal’s sudden and tantalising proximity to China, sobering loss of BJP in Bihar elections and the rising discontent among Indian intellectuals about their government’s treatment of Nepal. Indian media has also been regularly probing into India’s Nepal policy.
According to southasia.com.au’s Kathmandu correspondent Krandan Chapagain, a resolution passed by Nepal’s cabinet called on India to contribute towards ‘strengthening’ the relationship between the two nations by easing the ‘obstruction seen in the transit and supply system’ at the Indo-Nepal border points. It urged the southern neighbour to ‘regularise’ the importation of essential commodities such as cooking gas, medicines and petroleum products.
Speaking to media, Nepal’s information minister cum government spokesperson Sher Dhan Rai said the cabinet meeting agreed that majority of the demands put forward by the agitating Madhesi groups had already been fulfilled.
“The current government is saddened by the ongoing hardship and inconvenience facing the peoples of Terai and the country at large,” the resolution lamented. The Oli Government wants to ‘assure’ all that it is ready to adopt ‘maximum flexibility’ to resolve the Madhes saga through peaceful dialogue and consensus.
It is understood that the Nepalese government has already been providing free of cost treatment to injured Madhesi activists and has initiated the process of withdrawing criminal charges (laid on violent protestors) that have been proved to be ‘fake’. Most importantly, the government has decided to pay compensation packages of one million rupees to each family of the Terai protestors who were killed during the movement. But the decision is yet to be implemented, the press statement said.
The latest move from the Nepalese government comes at a time when India too has indicated that it was wiling to lift the blockade.
Analysts believe India is shying from formally announcing the lifting
of the blockade because it never accepted the accusation that it had placed the embargo in the first place.