Taking a stand against Nepal for the first time at an international forum, India told a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council Wednesday that it was “concerned” over “lack of political progress” and incidents of “violence, extra-judicial killings and ethnic discrimination” in the Himalayan country.
Referring to the Madhesi protests against the new Constitution and zero-movement of trucks on the Indo-Nepal border — the Nepal delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Kamal Thapa called it an obstruction — India said the “obstruction referred in the Hon’ble Minister’s statement is on Nepalese side caused by Nepalese protesters”.
Thapa, on his part, said: “Under any pretext, disruption of supplies, disruption of transit is not acceptable… Can’t Nepal have its own authority to promulgate a Constitution?”
Speaking at the Geneva meeting of the UNHRC called to discuss Nepal’s Universal Periodic Review, India’s Acting Permanent Representative B N Reddy said: “The people of Nepal, having endured a devastating earthquake in April 2015, are facing another tough challenge during the ongoing political transition. Violence and instability in parts of Nepal has worsened in the run-up to and after the adoption of Nepal’s Constitution in September 2015. Over 45 persons died, mostly civilians, and hundreds injured. Firings, which had ceased just after the adoption of the Constitution, have reoccurred. We are concerned over the lack of political progress.”
In his statement, cleared by the Ministry of External Affairs, Reddy referred to the protests by Madhesis against the new Constitution of Nepal: “We note the concerns expressed by UN human rights bodies, UN Country Team and Nepal’s own Human Rights Commission over continuing incidents of violence, extra-judicial killings and ethnic discrimination in the country. We urge the Government of Nepal to investigate and take credible measures to prevent their recurrence. Problems facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved through force or a security-based approach.”
As a close and friendly neighbour, Reddy said India has consistently appealed to the Nepal government to address all challenges in a spirit of dialogue and reconciliation.
He urged the Nepal government to take four steps:
* The Nepal government should “consolidate the constitution building and democratization process by accommodating all sections of Nepal to enable broad-based ownership and participation”.
* It should “ensure effective functioning of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and full implementation of its recommendations, including prosecution of those responsible for violent insurgency”.
* It should, “ensure the independence and financial autonomy of the National Human Rights Commission”.
* It should “set up an independent Commission for children and women”.
Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Thapa said nowhere in the world can there be any Constitution which is 100 per cent perfect. “It is a living document that can be amended… is owned by all sections of society,” he said.
“Under any pretext, disruption of supplies, disruption of transit is not acceptable,” Thapa, who held talks with the Indian leadership on “rerouting of trucks” a couple of weeks ago, said. He visited India last month and met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said Nepal had incurred losses to the tune of $5 billion in the last two months: “For a country like Nepal, how much suffering can we go through?… Is that justifiable? Can’t Nepal have its own authority to promulgate constitution?”