– by NepalForeignAffairs.com team
The Indian blockade of Nepal (#IndiaBlockadesNepal) has been running for over three months now. Being landlocked, most of Nepal’s imports come via India. Although international laws provide landlocked countries the right to unrestricted passage to the sea, India has been unquestioned by the international community on the way it is putting an entire country of about 28 million in “ventilator support”, in the words of senior Indian journalist Anil Yadav. The blockade has created a humanitarian crisis, apart from economic and political ones.
By blockading Nepal, India is supporting a group of protesters in Central Terai of Nepal. The blockade has caused massive suffering to people all over the country. Economy has been destroyed and might take years to recover. Jobs have been lost, investors have pulled out, major infrastructure and development projects have been badly affected and put out-of-schedule, and education of millions of kids has been disrupted. Industries have closed because of lack of security and raw material supply. Vaccination programs have also been disrupted. This shows the scale of suffering Nepal is facing because of the inhumane blockade by India.
The Modi government, together with Indian bureaucrats, diplomats, and intelligence officers have especially taken a harsh position, advocating that India should continue to pressurize Nepal this way.
Below, we present a selection of pictures and tweets to illustrate some of the hardships Nepali people have been put through by the blockade on Nepal by its big southern neighbor India.
Blockade is killing people
Amit Yadav, a kid from Eastern Terai, died because he could not visit a hospital for monthly checkup. Amit happens to be Madhesi-origin. Transportation has halted, especially in Eastern Terai but also elsewhere because of the blockade by India and the protests in some parts of Nepal that it has strengthened.
अमित यादव, बेगनाहशिवपुर-३, धनुषाका बालक अपरेसनपछि मासिक रगत जाँच गर्न बर्दिबास आउन नसकी २५ दिनअघि भल्व अड्किएर मरे । pic.twitter.com/jFnLU4vRjM
— रामेश (@RaameshKoirala) November 20, 2015
— Annapurna Post (@Annapurna_Post) November 23, 2015
— EKantipur (@ekantipur_com) November 21, 2015
The protesters have burnt several ambulances. The pictures in the tweet above show two vandalized ambulance. The first one was carrying a kid in critical condition, who died because of the protesters.
Earthquake victims have a harder time
Several earthquake victims have died this week due to cold. Earthquake victims cannot buy food, fuel, and construction material to build shelters because of the blockade. They are having to sleep outside. A harsh winter in the hills is worsening their condition. Nepal suffered two big earthquakes earlier this year, before India blockaded imports, making it almost impossible for relief to reach earthquake victims. Humanitarian organizations cannot operate under such lack of essentials.
— Kantipur Daily (@kantipurdaily) December 19, 2015
— Kantipur Daily (@kantipurdaily) December 14, 2015
Old people fight a harsh winter
Lack of fuel to eat and heat is making lives harder for elderly people. This woman is carrying cooking gas after a long wait. Indian blockade has made essential supplies harder to get.
— पण्डितको सन्तान (@UniteNepal) October 31, 2015
A 85-year old man walked for hours and waited on a long queue to get some firewood. Because of the shortage of fuel, the government sold limited quantity of firewood by cutting forests.
— Tsering Dolker (@TseringDolkerG) November 15, 2015
Health crisis due to lack of essential medicines
Several patients are dying because of lack of essential medicines and supplies. Hospitals cannot operate properly due to the blockade.
— Kunda Dixit (@kundadixit) November 30, 2015
— राजेश (@rajeshpaudyal) November 17, 2015
— SUDHEER SHARMA (@sudheerktm) November 17, 2015
Hospitals are dysfunctional
Many hospitals are operating under capacity and have stopped surgeries because of lack of supplies and essentials. In rural areas, simple medicines are also unavailable.
The following picture shows food being prepared for patients using firewood in one of the largest hospitals of Kathmandu.
— Kunda Dixit (@kundadixit) November 27, 2015
The following picture shows people queuing up for medicines.
— A2Z UN Bhotu® (@arzun07) November 15, 2015
Kids cannot study
Schools have been closed for months. In the Terai, school kids are used by protesters for violent protests and vandalism. Elsewhere, schools cannot operate because of lack of fuel and other essentials. The following placard reads “Live and let us study.”
— šimone (@simonerwl) November 27, 2015
Kids are collecting essentials for their families. In the following picture, they are carrying firewood as fuel has become scarce.
Violence and vandalism strengthened by blockade
The blockade has strengthened and supported a violent protest going on in the Terai region of Nepal. Protesters attack journalists, police and ordinary citizens with Molotov Cocktails. Even Indian police has entered Nepali territory and fired at Nepali citizens and police.
— Annapurna Post (@Annapurna_Post) November 3, 2015
A Madhesi lawmaker was attacked by the protesters. Several other political parties and people with differing opinion are regularly threatened and attacked in the protest areas. Protesters have almost banned political activities and campaigns by other parties. The President of Nepal was also humiliated and attacked by protesters.
दुखद घटनाः नयाँ संविधान लिएर गएका सांसद हरीचरण साहलाई मधेसी मोर्चाका कार्यकर्ताले गौरमा कालोमोसो दलेर अपमान गरेछन् । pic.twitter.com/3W730FRgpH
— Prakash Timalsina (@prakashujyalo) November 19, 2015
Ordinary Madhesi are also suffering because of the Indian blockade that has strengthened a violent protest in the Terai region. In the first picture below, the protesters burnt a moterbike, along with its owner Dilip Chaudhary. The second picture shows Bablu Rajbanshi burnt by the protesters.
पर्सा, निचुटाका दिलिप चौधरीको मोटरसाइकल हो, यो । मोटरसाइकलसँगै उनको शरीर पनि जलेको छ । आन्दोलनले दिलाएको ‘अधिकार’ ! pic.twitter.com/vQlwrhCXZa
— Rameshwor Bohara (@rambohara) December 5, 2015
Trucks, including those carrying medicines, are burnt by the protesters.
— Nepali Times (@nepalitimes) December 22, 2015
Human rights violation by police and protesters
The blockade has strengthened the violent protests, which has invited state police to safeguard highways and public property. Protest organizers have publicly provoked and called for violence and use of weapons. In retaliation, police action has sometimes been brutal and in violation of human rights. Several protesters and onlookers have been killed by police action. On the other hand, several police personnel and civilians have been attacked, lynched and killed by the protesters. The picture below shows a Madhesi family holding a picture of their dead son.
Violence and Tension at the Nepal-India border
Indian border police beat up Nepali police personnel and confiscate pistol.
— Nepali Journalists (@jhyal) October 11, 2015
In the following pictures, this side of the gate is Nepal and the other side is India. Stones are being pelted on Nepal police personnel from the Indian side of the border. In the first picture, Indian security personnel are standing guard at the border, providing security to the attackers.
बेलहिया नाकामा छिमेकी मित्रराष्ट्रले हामीलाई यसरी सहयोग गरिरहेछ, भारतीय भूमिबाट आक्रमण गर्नेलाई जोगाउन पहरा दिएर! pic.twitter.com/TJQ4SAVx5g
— Rameshwor Bohara (@rambohara) October 7, 2015
— Alpine (@alpine1290) October 9, 2015
वारि नेपाल, जहाँ प्रहरी रक्षात्मक छन्, पारि भारत जहाँबाट प्रहरीमाथि आक्रमण भइरहेछ । नेपालगञ्ज–रुपइडिहा नाका । pic.twitter.com/UKGPiY14EE
— Rameshwor Bohara (@rambohara) September 27, 2015
Back to firewood
People are now cooking on firewood for months. Nepal has been pushed back to pre-industrial era by the Indian blockade.
— Sonam Tashi Lama (@SonamTaC) November 15, 2015
— Shiwani Neupane (@ShiwaniNeupane) November 29, 2015
— Anoj Neupane (@Newanoj11) November 17, 2015
Lack of food and cooking fuel
There’s acute shortage of cooking gas and food supplies. Restaurants have modified their menu because of the blockade. Only limited items not requiring a lot of fuel are on offer in restaurants. Many are cooking on firewood. Several businesses have closed permanently, leaving many jobless during festival season and the ensuing winter.
— Sushmita Shakya (@ShakyaSushmita) November 18, 2015
— उज्ज्वल आचार्य (@KANepal) October 12, 2015
Travel has become scary
Traveling has become very scary and deadly. There are much fewer buses running and most of them are packed beyond capacity. Protesters regularly vandalize passengers, buses and private property. Because of lack of fuel, traveling conditions are harsher than usual, resulting in increased accidents and added difficulty for the elderly, sick, women and children. Buses carry petrol in small cans, adding the risk of fire and death. As seen in the pictures, passengers including small kids are forced to travel with great risk on top of buses
— Nepali Journalists (@jhyal) October 28, 2015
Protesters emboldened by the Indian blockade regularly destroy buses plying in the Eastern Terai, in a gross violation of human rights. Almost all buses traveling there have damaged windows and windscreen. Many people have been injured and killed during the violence meted out against innocent travelers on highways. Buses often travel without any windscreen, making it extremely chilly and uncomfortable inside. Travel is possible only at night, and every night passengers are greeted with stones, Molotov cocktails and other objects thrown at them.
— विवेक पौडेल (@tistung) November 4, 2015
— HIMALAYAN SOUL (@morangkobhai) November 17, 2015
— Media Kurakani (@mediakurakani) November 19, 2015
— Pradeep Bashyal (@pdpbasyal) November 21, 2015
— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) October 26, 2015
— Lou Watsham (@lou_watsham) October 13, 2015
Struggle to eat and to get fuel to cook
People sleeping on the road for days, waiting their turn to get supplies of cooking gas.
— .:¤¤:keshuvko:¤¤:. (@keshuvko) November 7, 2015
— Gundruk Post (@GundrukPost) December 7, 2015
— Anil Thapa (@athachhetri) November 24, 2015
— Kushal (@kushalnyoupane) November 10, 2015
In this picture, an international cricketer of Nepal is seen at the arrival lounge of Nepal’s airport with an electric induction stove. He bought it while on a trip overseas. Those who can afford have switched to such electric heaters because cooking gas is no more available in the market.
— भैंसी गोठालो ©®7 (@Mk_Adhikary) November 20, 2015
Goodwill between neighbors is lost as younger generations witness Indian aggression
Indians are not at risk in Nepal. Nepalis have remained calm throughout the blockade and been sensible to separate the ordinary Indian people from their brutal and bully government.
But while previous generations faced several Indian blockades and harbored a generally hostile attitude towards Indian intentions in Nepal, the newer generations were more open and cosmopolitan in nature. Now that they have witnessed the Indian aggression at a very difficult time in their country’s history, the sense of optimism has suffered a great setback. People are very discouraged and this will reflect directly in the coming generations’ view of their big neighbor to the South. There have been several spontaneous protests and social media campaigns against the blockade both in Nepal and in the cities of Europe or USA with large Nepali diaspora.
— Bvush’na (बिभूषणा) (@Bibhushanaa) November 16, 2015
Vulgar politics at display
The blockade has put to display Nepal’s own ugly sides. Nepal’s politics is messy, like in many similar countries. Here are some examples.
A professor defends the burning of ambulances and death of kids because of protesters blocking ambulances as needing to be seen “in a context”. This is very much reminiscent of how the violence unleashed by Maoist rebels during their insurgency was defended by its apologists.
Death of a child in ambulance has to be taken in context-some ambulances were carrying petrol Prof.Vijay Kant Karna pic.twitter.com/wZfnS6WEg9
— Arun Upreti (@i_alunir) November 27, 2015
Former Prime Minister and Maoist politician Baburam Bhattarai leads a group of so-called “civil society leaders”, which includes Dr Devendra Raj Pandey, CK Lal, Krishna Hachhethu, Pitambar Sharma etc. Bhattarai is a seasoned politician and the ideologue of the violent Maoist insurgency. He hardly fits the generally accepted definition of “civil society member”. But currently his cohort is cashing on the Indian blockade to revive his political career in the guise of a new political force. Bhattarai resigned from his parliamentary seat immediately after the promulgation of constitution, showing neglect to the people of his constituency, who are among the worst hit earthquake victims. He was also one of the leading politicians involved in the drafting of Constitution.
— Chakrapath (@Chakrapathnews) November 14, 2015
At other events, similar group of “civil society members” has gone so far as to say that Nepal is to be blamed for everything and India has imposed no blockade. This group includes the likes of Daman Nath Dhungana, Sundar Mani Dixit, CK Lal, Lokraj Baral. They were speaking at events organized by or in the presence of Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Mr. Ranjit Rae. Many in Nepal allege they work in tandem with the Indian bureaucracy and intelligence agencies to do a “narrative control” in Nepal. Perhaps, this is what observers meant while referring to the many “covert and overt” weapons India has at its disposal against Nepal ?
— Hari Bahadur Thapa (@Haribthapa) November 24, 2015
The level of disrespect and interference in Nepal’s internal politics by India has gone so far that the blockade started with India demanding changes to Nepal’s newly drafted constitution. This headline from Indian Express just before the blockade began.
While there is vehement denial of the blockade by Indian government, its operatives in Nepal and some of Nepal’s civil society members, enough evidence has been produced that show India is actively and directly forcing a blockade on Nepal. This is a picture of supply trucks queuing up at the Indian side of the border. Such queues stretch several kilometers and Indian security force selectively allow trucks to pass. Trucks carrying fuel are stopped on purpose. Indian journalist Anil Yadav produced a series of reports this month from a town near Nepal-India border.
The performance of Nepal’s own government has been very lackadaisical. A weak coalition cobbled up after the blockade apparently against India’s wishes, shows no creativity or initiative to make things easier for the people. Government ministers and the Prime Minister are frustrating the ordinary people with their rhetoric full of lofty dreams but no matching action. In all this, the opposition party sees an opportunity to replace the government formed just months ago.
The following cartoon published in a Nepali newspaper shows the Prime Minister busy talking, doing nothing.
— Nepal Cartoons (@NepalCartoon) November 29, 2015