Monday, November 30, 2015

Yubaraj Ghimire : How the growing chasm between India and Nepal is widening at all levels

The expanding hiatus between the governments of Nepal and India seems to be replicating itself at various levels of the society on both sides.

Last week, school children waving placards– mostly appeals to Narendra Modi to the end humanitarian crisis in Nepal– formed a human chain in as 17-km perimeter ring road in Kathmandu. While the students paraded on the streets, the government framed a protest letter against the Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) for shooting at four Nepali citizens in the eastern Nepalese Sunsari district, from within Nepal territory allegedly as part of the drive against fertiliser smuggling.

A similar incident took place on Sunday as 13 SSB personnel, six of them armed, entered another district in the east, allegedly in hot-pursuit of dacoits. Security agencies of Nepal took them in custody for few hours, and then released them after the Indian side said such incidents will not recur. However, with trust deficit increasing on both sides, motives are being attributed to the incident.

Meanwhile, TV cable service providers have reacted to the ongoing stalemate, by blocking distribution of Indian news channels and accusing them of being a part of the Indian government’s ‘propaganda’ and giving a ‘distorted’ view of the stand-off between the two countries.

Nepal and India do not have a new version of the extradition treaty or mechanism for mutual legal assistance. In the past, however, the two sides have cooperated when it came to handing back suspected terrorists and extremists. Nepal has handed over Sikhs, LTTE and Islamic extremists to India, while the latter has handed over Maoists facing trial in Nepal before 2006, and other criminals wanted in Nepal.

India has expressed regret for its security personnels’ activities on two previous occasions: first, while arresting Sucha Singh, an accused in the murder of former Punjab chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon in late 60s and again during a raid by Indian police in Kathmandu in 1993.

As the current impasse has hit almost all sections of Nepalese society, protests and displays of jingoism and an overdose of anti-Indian sentiments are becoming almost routine. The stand-off over the SSB has overshadowed the cooperation and mutual trust of the past. And still there are no indication from the authorities if the obstruction in the supply of essential commodities that has brought Nepal and its economy to a grinding halt, will end soon.