In an effort to reduce tensions between their two nations, Nepalis and Indians come at a border point to hoist their national flags, sing their national songs and pay respect to their martyrs. But Indian Border Security Force’s harassment continues in eastern border (see box)
By Janak Nepal
Flags were hoisted, national anthems sung and tributes paid to martyrs of both countries—Nepal and India— in no-man’s land at Jamunaha border point near the Nepali town of Nepalgunj on Saturday (30 Jan) for a reason. The people from the two countries exchanged roses in a show of friendship and harmony.
Civil society leaders from Nepalgunj and bordering Rupaidiya had organised a programme for reconciliation between the two sides. Tension had flared up in border areas after the United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [UCPN-M], under its national sovereignty campaign, printed posters showing boots planted on the Indian national flag a week ago.
Civil society leaders present at the function urged governments of both countries to resolve the disputes amicably. “All sorts of disputes, including that of the the border, should be resolved through negotiations at the government level,” said Dr. Sushil Koirala, a Nepali organiser of the programme. Participants stressed the need to uphold decades of friendly and cultural relations between the two neighbours.
Mohammad Jubed Pharuki, chairman of Kebalpur Gram Panchayat of India, said political campaigns should not pose a threat to the cultural, social and religious ties existing between the two countries. “We have assembled here to show that we— Indians and Nepalis— want harmony and friendship not enmity,” said Pharuki.
The Indian protest affected work at Biratnagar customs. Customs chief Mitralal Regmi said revenue collection was almost closed due to the protest. The customs has been collecting Rs 2.5 million revenue daily. Nepalis residing along the border areas of Banke district suffered various problems following the Maoist anti-Indian movement against land encroachment. Maoist senior leaders inspected encroached Nepali land and chanted slogans against India some three weeks ago. Since then the Seema Suraksha Bal (Indian border security force) started tight security operations at the border, causing additional problems for Nepalis. According to locals, Indian border security officials started harassing Nepalis during security checks after Maoist Vice-Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha delivered an ‘anti-Indian’ speech at the border. “Security officials have also obstruct us from bringing commodities from India,” said local man Sawal Prasad Shrivastav.
Meanwhile, SSB excesses continue
The Indian border security force has been harassing Nepali people along the border area in Pashupatinagar, Ilam, Rastriya Samachar Samiti reports. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel have started troubling Nepalis entering the Nepali settlements after the UCPN (Maoist) chanted slogans against Indian excesses two weeks ago in the border area. “SSB personnel threaten us every day after the sloganeering against India,” said Rabin Sherpa of Pashupatinagar-4.
Maoists had shouted anti-India slogans and inspected the encroached border in course of their mass meet on the border on Jan. 11. Since then SSB personnel have been threatening Nepalis accusing them of inviting Maoists to speak out against India, he added. He said they are bearing their anger. “Our life will be at risk if this issue is not settled at the earliest.”
Apart from harassing, the SSB has also tighten import and export from the border checkpoint, said locals. In some cases, local said, SSB personnel tried to seize goods imported from India even following the due process.