Sushma denies Nepal blockade

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj today denied any Indian role in what many in Nepal fear is a blockade of the land-locked country by New Delhi, at a time tensions between the neighbours are spiralling.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 2.10.15
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New Delhi, Oct. 1: Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj today denied any Indian role in what many in Nepal fear is a blockade of the land-locked country by New Delhi, at a time tensions between the neighbours are spiralling.

Sushma's denial, made at a meeting with her Nepal counterpart Mahendra Pandey in New York, came hours after a top politician in Kathmandu directly accused India of orchestrating the shutdown of truck movement in and out of the Himalayan nation.

"External affairs minister said it is a totally false allegation that India is responsible for the blockade," foreign office spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. "We do not want to be prescriptive, we want the people and political parties of Nepal to evolve a consensus."

Nepal's plains have witnessed continuous protests for over a month and a half against a new constitution that the Tharu and Madhesi communities there insist discriminated against their political rights.

India had served as a guarantor of past deals between the plains communities and Nepal's hill elite when the country was drafting its constitution.

And India critics in the hills have accused New Delhi of stoking the protests in the plains, where Madhesi agitators have blocked the supply of food, fuel and other key rations into the country from India.

On Wednesday, K.P. Sharma Oli, chief of the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) blamed India for the crisis, reminiscent of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's blockade against Nepal in 1989 when that country was pulling closer to China.

"India should not violate the treaties and agreements between our two countries, one," Oli told news agency AFP in Kathmandu. "Second, India shouldn't undermine and violate the international norms and rights of the landlocked countries in general."

But in New York, Swarup rolled out figures suggesting that Indian truckers were suffering the most.

"There are 4,310 of our trucks stuck at the border right now," Swarup said. "We can only take the trucks to the border - from there on it is the responsibility of the Nepal government."