New Constitution row: Use political means, desist violence, India tells Nepal

New Delhi: India on Monday expressed concern over the incidents of violence in border regions of Nepal, following the promulgation of Constitution. A strongly-worded statement issued by the ministry of external affairs (MEA) asked Kathmandu to use political means rather resorting to force in the border regions, where population is up against the promulgation of new Constitution unveiled on Sunday.

New Constitution row: Use political means, desist violence, India tells Nepal

India shares 1751-km-long borders with the Himalyan nation. Indian-origin Madhesis and Tharrus, living in Tarai region feel neglected and disempowered by the new statute.

The statement reminded that Nepal leadership had been already cautioned against any such eventuality and stressed on steps to defuse the tension in the regions, bordering India. “Our freight companies and transporters have also voiced complaints about the difficulties they are facing in movement within Nepal and their security concerns, due to the prevailing unrest,” the statement added.

India is particularly perturbed that flames in Terai region of southern Nepal have potential to cross border and ignite the poll bound Bihar. Sources here say, that was the primary reason for foreign secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to Kathmandu as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special envoy.

The Madhesis have been fighting for equal representation in the country’s political structure. While Tharus believe that they have not even been mentioned in the document. There have been also protest from groups against defining Nepal as a secular country, arguing that it be declared a Hindu state. “Many Nepalis, particularly the Madhesis, have been angered by a clause in the new constitution which talks of “religious and cultural freedom, with the protection of religion and culture practiced since ancient times,” says a source in government.

India’s former envoy to Nepal Deb Mukarji said while New Delhi has never been an interventionist, but the situation flaring up just across the border was a cause of worry. He admitted that the new Nepal Constitution does have loopholes and doesn’t address concerns of a large population. “Whatever little I have seen and heard, I regret all assurances made during Jan Andolan and talked to all these years have been whittled down, which also include an affirmative action programme for deprived,” he said.

The MEA statement further asked Nepali leadership to take urgent steps to defuse the tension and resolve issues politically rather resorting to force. “We have consistently argued that all sections of Nepal must reach a consensus on the political challenges confronting them. The issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force. We still hope that initiatives will be taken by Nepal’s leadership to effectively and credibly address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation,” the statement concluded.

The ruling BJP, on the other hand, clarified that they were not against Nepal’s Constitution, but only voicing concerns at the violence. The party’s head of foreign affairs cell Shashadari Chari said the constitution unveiled is very representative and an outcome of lengthy discussions. It has also incorporated various provisions of Indian Constitution, he said.