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Blockade lifted on Indo-Nepal border: How it happened

The lifting of the ‘blockade’ was not officially announced - its imposition on September 20 which coincided with India’s curt response to the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution had also been without fanfare.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu | Updated: February 10, 2016 3:44 pm
Residents cross a bridge at the border in Birgunj, Nepal, on Friday. (AP Photo) Residents cross a bridge at the border in Birgunj, Nepal, on Friday. (AP Photo)

The movement led by the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) and the related blockade of the Raxaul-Birgunj checkpost which accounts for up to 70 per cent of supplies to land-locked Nepal from India, concluded as mysteriously, as they had begun 135 days ago.

Last week, the largely sympathetic crowds from Raxaul in Bihar turned unexpectedly hostile- they burnt down the tents erected along the no-man’s land between the two countries and removed Front activists who had been on dharna there all this while. Then, gradually the vehicles loaded with goods began their journey into Nepal.

Watch Video: India-Nepal border open after months of unrest

The lifting of the ‘blockade’ was not officially announced – its imposition on September 20 which coincided with India’s curt response to the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution had also been without fanfare.

The blockade and India’s passive response at the time were seen as an endorsement of the Front’s protest against the Constitution that allegedly refused to recognize Madhesi demands for proportional representation of Madhesis in organs of the state, at least 50 per cent seats from the region in Parliament, and a review of the proposed delimitation of the proposed provincial boundaries. The Front had called it ‘too little and too less’ even after the Constitution was amended by the government.

In order to mobilise more support from the adjoining provinces, top leaders of the Front met Lalu Prasad Yadav and his Rastriya Janata Dal’s Vice President Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, just over a week ago. Both Singh and Yadav said the Constitution snatched away even the existing rights of the Madhesis and ‘we will extend all support to Madhesis in Nepal with whom we have roti-beti relations with.’ Singh had said, provoking an angry protest from the Nepal government.

Prominent Front leader Upendra Yadav, in his briefing to the RJD leaders, had said the communist alliance that rules Nepal was moving closer to China against India. That meeting between the Front and RJD leaders, however, seems to have backfired. In Nepal, Rajendra Mahato, chairman of the Nepal Sadhbhavana Party and a Front constituent, unilaterally called off the Raxaul blockade on Monday, signalling that the Front was not so united any longer. “They dismantled the tent there after we decided to pull back and end the blockade,” said Mahato.

Meanwhile, Delhi had perhaps realized that the blockade and depleting support for the Front leaders in Nepal was costing it dear, harming its image in the international community while China gained at its expense.

The lifting of the ‘undeclared’ blockade was the pre-condition set by Prime Minister Oli to visit India in the hope of mending the relationship that has been under severe strain in the last few months. However, it is still too early to assess the impact of the blockade’s termination and whether it will contribute to political stability.

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Feb 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm
    Good Move.. Relations between the two Nations should be Good
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    1. Javi Z
      Feb 10, 2016 at 11:33 pm
      Hindia has no concept of help, or care but bare it squeezing ba**s of small nations in the vicinity. scratching the pot standards.
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      1. G
        Global Traveler
        Feb 13, 2016 at 3:54 pm
        Fact: goods were prevented from flowing into an impoverished country which caused enormous human grief (2) no country, no government, no body is responsible - certainly not India? Please remember - the world was watching.
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        1. G
          Global Traveler
          Feb 13, 2016 at 3:38 pm
          Relations good??? Ok r ight - . . . no problem
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          1. B
            Biswash
            Feb 10, 2016 at 5:42 pm
            Check today's news in Kantipur in which Madhesi leaders have finally accepted how India had forced them to call blockade to save her face after the promulgation of country's consution.. Now that India had already burnt her finger badly, she desperately wanted to lift the blockade amid international pressures and Nepal's increasing coziness with China. So she had once again dumped her stooges completely and will do whatever needed to repair the damaged relation.. It reminded me of those so called eminent members of Nagarik Samaj who had vouched that India had not imposed blockade in the presence of Indian ambador to Nepal...
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