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Leaders wary of terming move blockade

- Devendra Bhattarai, NEW DELHI
Mahat says it is wrong on India’s part to use transit as a tool to influence Nepal’s domestic affairs

Oct 25, 2015-Nepali leaders gathered here for a seminar were soft on India’s ongoing “unofficial trade embargo”. Nepal’s Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay referred the situation as a “nightmare” and requested all to wake up from the bad dream without uttering the word ‘blockade’.

Not only Upadhyay, Nepali Congress leaders Ram Sharan Mahat and Chitra Lekha Yadav also appeared less critical of the ongoing ‘blockade’.

“International law will define whether this is a blockade or not. But Nepali people have taken this as a blockade,” Mahat told a programme organised by leading Indian think-tank Observer Research Foundation. Stating that politics, and trade and transit are two separate issues, Mahat said it was wrong on India’s part to use transit as a tool to influence Nepal’s domestic affairs.

“If there are any Indian concerns, there are proper channels to express them. India’s recent policy of putting Nepal’s political affairs and trade and transit in the same basket is quiet surprising,” said Mahat, adding that the rise in anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal was due to India’s act of curtailing Nepal’s transit right. According to Ambassador Upadhyay, India’s policy of bypassing the state mechanism is not good. “We have our embassy here,” said Upadhyay. “But the Indian policy of talking to various groups instead of the state mechanism is not good. When there are mutual mistrust and problems, ambassador and the state channel could be the way to take.”

The obstruction in transit and restriction on fuel supply has caused Nepal losses worth around Rs400 billion, said Upadhyay. “I sent a verbal note to India’s External Affairs Ministry on Saturday mentioning the hardships faced by the Nepali people due to the fuel shortage.

“Though I have been informed that they will supply fuel from the border points that are clear, I have yet to see the results,” he said. Meanwhile, 50 cooking gas bullets are going to be rerouted from Sunauli border point as agreed earlier. Executive Director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka said the bullets would be sent towards Sunauli-Bhairahawa border from Monday.

Published: 25-10-2015 08:34

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