India voices concern over Nepal violence, hopes for action

Kathmandu/New Delhi, Sep 21 (IANS) Violence continued in Nepal on Monday as three people protesting against the constitution adopted a day ago were injured in police firing. India, voicing deep concern over the violence, expressed hope that the Nepalese leadership will take initiatives to “effectively and credibly” address the reasons behind the confrontation.

Representatives from Madhesi parties have opposed the new constitution, terming it a farce. On Sunday, as the constitution was being promulgated, one person was killed and many others were injured in fierce protests by Madhesi demonstrators who clashed with the police in Birganj area bordering India.

Madhesis and Janjatis, or people who live in the Terai region bordering India, say the new constitution denies them their rights by clubbing them with the hill people.

India in a statement said it was “deeply concerned over the incidents of violence resulting in death and injury in regions of Nepal bordering India following the promulgation of the Constitution yesterday (Sunday)”.

The violence has led to stoppage of freight trucks, with reportedly a 25-km-long line of trucks waiting at Ruxaul to cross over to Nepal.

India said freight companies and transporters have also voiced complaints about the difficulties they were facing in movement within Nepal and their security concerns, due to the prevailing unrest.

“We had repeatedly cautioned the political leadership of Nepal to take urgent steps to defuse the tension in these regions (the Terai). This, if done in a timely manner, could have avoided these serious developments,” the statement said.

India said it has “consistently argued that all sections of Nepal must reach a consensus on the political challenges confronting them. The issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force. We still hope that initiatives will be taken by Nepal’s leadership to effectively and credibly address the causes underlying the present state of confrontation”.

On Sunday, India extended its best wishes to Nepal on promulgation of the constitution but urged that the Himalayan country should resolve through dialogue the issues on which differences remain.

India’s concerns stem from the concern that a constitution that ignores the aspirations of two-thirds of the people, who live in the plains, is sure to sow the seeds of discord in the future. And the signs are already there.

The Madhesis and Janjatis are upset at their lop-sided representation in the constitution. Though the Terai region comprises 51 percent of the population, it has only 60 seats in the 165-member house, while the hill region despite its sparser population has got 105 seats.

They feel power has been concentrated in the hands of the hill people.

India is keen that the Nepalese leadership accommodate the aspirations of the plains people through affirmative action.

On Monday, Nepal’s top political leaders vowed to maintain good relations with India.

Three major political parties — the Nepali Congress, the CPN-UML and the UCPN-Maoist — held a joint rally in Kathmandu on Monday where they vowed to address the demands of agitating Madhes-based parties and the Tharu community who have been protesting in the southern plains over the seven-state model envisaged in the country’s new constitution.

 

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