New Delhi, Manan Kumar: Upping the ante, Nepal said it is looking at establishing contacts with China through land route and with other countries through air if the blockade on India border does not end soon.
Nepalese deputy PM and home minister, Bamdev Gautam told dna in an interview that it is keeping its options open and will not bow to any pressure.
“It is true that India is a strong country and a big economy but to live we will have to make alternative arrangements. It is within our rights to have alternative arrangements… Nepal has never bowed down to anyone and will not bow even now. We will establish contact with China through land and with other countries through air to get the essential supplies,” said Guatam.
Blaming squarely the government of India, Gautam said that all border check posts along Indian border have closed down and the Indian government has fully supported the blockade.
“Indian representatives say it is not Indian government’s policy but the Indian officials at the border have told us that they are doing it as per the instructions of their government. This blockade has been done in favour of Madhesi parties. About 29-30 years ago India had done blockade for several days when Rajiv Gandhi was the PM then Nepal showed that Nepal can never be bowed down due to blockade,” said Gautam.
People in Kathmandu have started feeling the pangs of the blockade on the India-Nepal border that continued for the fourth successive day. Several petrol pumps reported shortage of fuel supply in the valley and many turned the vehicles away.
Sources in the government said that the road leading to border check point with China at Tatopani near Sindhupal Chowk that was devastated in the earthquake is being rebuilt and will not take more than seven days to complete.
“It is hardly 114 kilometres from Kathmandu and once ready supplies can reach Kathmandu within 4-6 hours. The other border check point with China, Syapra Besi near Nuakot is also only 132 kilometres away and can be opened up in a few months if needed. China would be more than happy to help us,” said a highly-placed Nepalese government official.
India, however, considers this as more of a posturing by Nepal. Senior government sources dealing with the situation said, it is easier said than done as Nepal knows how much it depends on India, and the Chinese will also not be interested. Nepal is using this only as a bargaining chip.
“The Madhesis have genuine concerns which have not been met by Nepal’s constitution. Nepal would do well if it calls the Madhesis, listens to them and at least gives them some assurance to end this crisis and blockade,” said a senior official.