Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed “shock” at the unfortunate killing of a youngster from Bihar due to police firing in Nepal and requested details from his Nepalese counterpart, Mr K.P. Oli, during a telephonic conversation.
India also summoned Nepal ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyay and told him it is “deeply concerned” over the firing in Birgunj. He was also told that issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force and that the causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to be addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively. The slain youth was Ashish Ram of Raxaul, Bihar, PTI reported.
“The PM has expressed shock and condemned the unfortunate killing of a youngster from Bihar due to police firing in Nepal,” the Prime Minister’s Office said. Mr Modi expressed concern about the incident and requested details, the PMO said. However, Mr Modi assured the Nepal PM that there was no obstacle to the supply of fuel and other essentials from the Indian side. “At the same time, the PM urged Nepalese leaders to work towards ensuring an early and effective solution to the crisis,” the PMO added.
Earlier, India had expressed deep concern over firing incidents in Birgunj, across the border from Raxaul (Bihar), in which an Indian was killed on the border and advised its freight transporters to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger. The government also said it was monitoring the situation carefully.
“We are deeply concerned at reports coming in of firing today in Birgunj. An innocent Indian was also killed in the firing. Issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively,” the MEA spokesperson said. He added that Indian freight forwarders and transporters have voiced their worries again on Monday about the deteriorating situation across the border. “We are advising them to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger. We are monitoring the situation carefully,” he added. The advisory may deepen the crisis over supplies to the Himalayan nation.
Since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal in September, the Indian-origin Madhesi population has been agitating as they believe the country’s new Constitution discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.
The agitation obstructed supply of essential commodities including petrol, thereby creating a crisis in Nepal, which accused India of imposing an “economic blockade”, a charge denied by India.
Nineteen-year-old Ashish Ram of Raxaul, Bihar, was killed on being struck in the head by a bullet when police opened fire on protesters at Shankaracharya Gate near Birgunj Customs, home ministry sources were quoted by PTI as saying.
Clashes erupted in different parts of Birgunj after the Nepal police baton-charged Indian-origin Madhesi protesters in a pre-dawn swoop, burned down their tents and evicted them from the key Miteri bridge at the Indo-Nepal border, opening the main Birgunj-Raxaul border trading point for the first time in 40 days.
The deceased, Ram, was identified after a phonecall was made to his maternal uncle from his mobile, the police said.
Violence in the area forced authorities to clamp an indefinite curfew. Nearly 200 empty trucks stranded in the Nepalese side of the border were allowed to enter Indian territory during the brief period when the police took control of the area. Several protesters were injured after police fired rubber bullets to maintain law and order.
Eight Nepal police and Armed Police Force personnel have also sustained injuries after agitators hurled stones at them.
Madhesis, who claim to represent the interests of the Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region — have been protesting close to the main trading point near Raxaul. Their agitation has led to a halt in supply of essential goods, causing acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.
Over 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.
Five protesters were arrested when the police intervened at around 4.30 am to open the Birgunj-Raxaul trading point through which about 70 per cent of bilateral trade is done, home ministry spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal told PTI.
Security personnel baton-charged about a dozen protesters who were sleeping in the tents set up on the bridge between Nepal-India border. The tents and bedding used by the agitators were burned.
Some three dozen Indian truck drivers, who were stranded on the Nepalese side of the border due to the blockade, had staged a sit-in at the Indian consulate in Birgunj for the past few days seeking their return to India.
There is a 15-km-long queue of vehicles waiting for clearance from Indian authorities to enter Nepal, Dhakal said. These vehicles are carrying essential fuels, LPG, medicine and food items.
Talks on Sunday between the Nepal government and Madhesi groups agitating over the country’s new Constitution ended inconclusively, but Nepal deputy PM Kamal Thapa said the dialogue was moving in a positive direction.
The major demands of the Madhesi Front are to re-draw the demarcation of the federal provinces and inclusion of more rights and representation to the Indian-origin Madhesi people.
Other demands include martyrdom status for those killed during recent protests, free treatment of the injured, compensation to victims’ families and withdrawal of security forces from Terai districts, among others. The alliance has been staging protests in various parts of southern Nepal against the seven-province model of the newly-promulgated Constitution for more then two months.
Meanwhile, 12 trucks carrying petrol from China on Monday entered Nepal through Rasuwagadhi trading point. These tankers were bringing 1,44,000 litres of petrol and diesel to Nepal for the first time following an agreement inked between Nepal Oil Corporation and Petro China in Beijing a few days ago. China has agreed to supply petroleum products to Nepal to fulfil one third of its demands, Nepalese ambassador to China Mahesh Maskey told a television channel today. Under the agreement, China will supply petrol, diesel, LPG and air gasoline, he said.
China has announced it will provide 1,000 metric tonnes of oil, equivalent to 1.2 million litres, to Nepal on grant basis as relief in the festival season. Officials from Nepal Oil Corporation and Petro China will hold discussions on fixing prices for the petroleum products to be supplied to Nepal by China for long-term consumption, he was quoted by PTI as saying.