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Nepal’s Madhesi leaders meet Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi: Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met top leaders of Nepal’s restive Madhesi community, who were agitating against the country’s new constitution adopted in September, urging a speedy political solution for restoring normalcy in the Himalayan nation.

“EAM @SushmaSwaraj meets Madhesi Morcha leaders in New Delhi. Reaffirms support for an inclusive Nepal,” external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

He added that Sushma Swaraj called for a “broad-based ownership of constitution and encouraged speedy political solution and return to normalcy on that basis”.

The Madhesi leaders’ visit comes close on the heels of the visit of Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa.

The Madhesi Morcha had been protesting for almost four months in Nepal’s southern Terai plains, blocking movement of vehicles between India and Nepal thus creating widespread shortages in the Himalayan nation.

They have expressed serious reservations over some of the contents of the new constitution as well as boundaries of the proposed seven federal units.

Those who reached Delhi include Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party chairman Mahanta Thakur, Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum chairman Upendra Yadav, Sadbhavana Party chairman Rajendra Mahto, and Tarai Madhes Sadbhavana Party chairman Mahendra Yadav.

Second rung leaders of the Madhesi Morcha had earlier reached New Delhi.

The Madhesi leaders will also meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav and Nationalist Congress Party’s DP Tripathi.

The Madhesis are demanding, among others, increased political representation, proportional inclusion in state organs, correction in citizenship provisions and revision in federal boundaries.

Over 50 people had died in violent protests that had been raging across the Nepali Terai since September last.

(IANS)

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India’s Diwali Promise, Medical Visas to All Deserving

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Shushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj. IANS

New Delhi, October 19: Marking the auspicious occasion of Diwali, India on Thursday made a Diwali promise medical visas all those people abroad, including in Pakistan, seeking treatment.

“On the auspicious occasion of Deepawali, India will grant a medical visa in all deserving cases pending today,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.

Keeping to a promise made on Independence Day, India on Wednesday issued six more medical visas to Pakistani nationals, including three children.

“We will issue visa to facilitate treatment of your eight-year-old child in India,” Sushma Swaraj tweeted on Wednesday night in response to a request from Nazir Ahmed who said that his son Mohammad Ahmed was awaiting a medical visa from India for one year.

In a separate tweet, she also promised a visa to Muhammad Asif Malik’s son, who is currently in an intensive care unit (ICU) in children’s hospital in Lahore, and to Kasif Chacha’s child who is running out of medicine.

Visas were also issued to Irfan Ahmed Shaikh, Nasir Mahmood and the mother of Rafique Menon for liver surgeries.

This month, Sushma Swaraj has announced the issuance of 19 medical visas to Pakistanis for treatment in India as Diwali promise.

Last month, India issued a medical visa to a Pakistani child seeking open heart surgery.

On Independence Day, the External Affairs Ministry made a Diwali promise that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, on July 18, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for a liver tumor, got a visa.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas.(IANS)

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