Nepali party leader blames India for blocking vital supplies
The leader of a major Nepali party has accused neighboring India of deliberately blocking vital supplies into the landlocked Himalayan country.
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.
Oli, who is also tipped to be the next prime minister, said on Wednesday that the New Delhi government, rather than protesters on the border, is responsible for the ongoing blockade.
“India is saying those people (protesters) are in no man’s land, they are blocking the roads so (Indian trucks) are not being able to supply, that’s not true,” Oli said.
The senior Nepalese lawmaker also questioned Indian government’s sincerity toward Nepal.
“There is no gas, no vegetable supplies, no fuel for vehicles, no fuel for airlines, and life is about frozen,” the Nepalese leader said, adding, “We don’t want this type of friendship.”
Oli also accused the Indian government of violating existing accords between the two nations.
“India should not violate the treaties and agreements between our two countries, one. Second, India shouldn’t undermine and violate the international norms and rights of the landlocked countries in general.”
The protesters, who belong to the Madhesi community, have blocked a checkpoint in Birgunj town, which is located 90 kilometers south of the capital, Kathmandu.
The checkpoint serves as the key hub for oil and food imports into the landlocked Himalayan nation. Fears of a fuel shortage have seen dozens of commuters line up at gas stations in Kathmandu.
The Indian government, which exerts significant political influence in Nepal, has expressed concern over the ongoing situation.
Senior authorities in New Delhi, who have criticized Kathmandu’s handling of the constitution, have denied being behind the blockade.
Indian has called for a dialogue between the Nepalese government and the protesters to end the stand-off.
Public rage is mounting over Indian government’s perceived meddling in Nepal’s internal affairs.
This comes after Nepal’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a new constitution that had been delayed for years due to differences between political factions. The new charter came into force on September 20.
The new national constitution aims to restructure Nepal as a federal state made up of seven provinces, and draw a line under a decade-long civil war that ended in 2006.
A series of protests has continued to rock parts of the country, signaling that the new charter is not likely to allay the concerns of the country’s many marginalized groups. A series of violent protests have claimed the lives of more than 40 demonstrators over the past weeks.
The members of marginalized groups demand their own separate province. The groups include the Madhesi and Tharu ethnic minorities who mainly inhabit the country’s southern plains.