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No blockade of cargo vehicles to Nepal: Vikas Swarup


New Delhi:  India on Thursday reiterated that it was not imposing any blockade on commercial vehicles carrying cargo to Nepal in the wake of rising political tensions in the Himalayan nation after the adoption of the new constitution.

“Let me once again categorically state that there is no blockade by India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a media briefing.

“A number of cargo commercial vehicles are moving daily to Nepal. On October 30, 748 vehicles moved, 627 on October 31, 473 on November 1, 308 on November 2, and 271 on November 3,” he said.

Nepal’s new constitution has evoked strong resentment from the southern Nepali Terai region where the Madhesi political parties as also the indigenous groups have launched a violent protest alleging that their interests have been again ignored.

Hours after a youth from Bihar was killed in firing by Nepal police during protests in Birgunj city close to the Indian border on Monday, Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, at a public function in Kathmandu, accused India of “propping up” the Madhes-based political parties to impose blockades at major customs points along the 1,751-km open border between the two neighbors.

On Thursday, Swarup said that as of Wednesday afternoon, the number of vehicles awaiting at six out of 10 trading points capable of handling commercial cargo was 6,906.

“Out of these, 4,800 were at Raxaul (in Bihar) alone and 1,500 at Sonauli (in Uttar Pradesh),” he said.

“So you can see, we are making every effort to send as much supplies as possible to Nepal. But the problem is that the main trading point which handles 70-80 percent of commercial traffic between India and Nepal, Raxaul-Birgunj, continues to remain blocked.”

To a question as to whether India was doing anything to allay the resentment and fears among the people of Kathmandu valley over the stoppage of supplies, Swarup said the problem in Nepal was a political problem.

“It has to have a political solution. That is what we have been urging Nepal consistently from day one and that is what we will continue to urge Nepal. That there is a particular problem in Nepal caused by disaffection among a section of the Nepali population,” the spokesperson said.

“The sooner the Nepali leadership reaches out to that particular section and reaches some kind of an accommodation the sooner our supplies will resume which has been caused entirely by the blockade existing on the Nepalese side of the border.”


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India, Nepal Review New Developments in Ties

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning more towards China than India

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Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister of India. Wikimedia

Recent developments in India-Nepal ties across various sectors came up for discussion during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Thursday.

“The two ministers reviewed recent developments in bilateral ties across diverse sectors, including progress achieved on the three transformative initiatives launched in 2018 in the areas of agriculture, railways and inland waterways as well as pace of implementation of ongoing bilateral development and connectivity projects,”the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“They expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made in different sectors of cooperation as a result of intensified bilateral exchanges at all levels in recent months,” it said.

According to the statement, the two leaders reiterated their commitment to maintain the new momentum and to further strengthen the traditionally close and friendly ties between the two countries.

India Pak relations
India, Nepal review new developments in ties.

India reset its ties with Nepal last year through a visit by Prime Minister Modi, his first after K.P. Sharma Oli became the Prime Minister.

During the visit, both sides agreed to boost trade and economic links, connectivity via air, land and water, people-to-people ties, with Modi declaring that India will work like a sherpa in the Himalayan nation’s development endeavours.

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This happened after there was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning more towards China than India. (IANS)