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Madhesis call off protest, fuel supply back as Nepal border blockade removed

The announcement to end the border blockade comes ahead of Prime Minister K P Oli's trip to India on February 19, the first overseas visit of the new Nepalese premier.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu |
Updated: February 9, 2016 12:54:37 am
Madhesi, Madhesis, nepal, india nepal The announcement to end the border blockade comes ahead of Prime Minister K P Oli’s trip to India on February 19. (AP Photo/Jiyalal Sah)

About 135 days after the dharna at Raxaul-Birgunj check post that crippled normal life and economy of Nepal substantially, the United Madhesi Front that led the blockade, Monday said it would not resort to border blockade, general strike and shutting down government offices in view of the suffering it inflicts on general people.

In a review meeting of the blockade four days after its end in humiliation following business communities from Bihar and Nepal side burning the tents meant for people staging dharna along the non-man’s land, the divided Front said it has decided to review its tactic in based on suggestions it got from different people in course of the blockade.

Rajendra Mahato , Chairman of the Nepal Sadhbhavana Party one of the four constituents of the Front, however did not participate in the meeting. He was however, criticised by other front constituents for ‘unilaterally’ announcing the end of ‘blockade’ even before a formal decision was taken.

Normal supply including that of petrol and diesel have resumed from Raxaul and there are indications that it would touch the pre-blockade level by the end of this week.

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“Considering the current crisis facing the nation and the public necessity and aspirations, the ongoing protest programmes of general strike, border blockade, government office shutdown have been called off for now,” the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) said in a statement.

“The agitation will continue till our demands are addressed,” said the statement issued after the meeting of UDMF leaders, three days after angry traders from both sides burned down tents set up by agitating Madhesis on Friday.

The announcement to end the border blockade comes ahead of Prime Minister K P Oli’s trip to India on February 19, the first overseas visit of the new Nepalese premier.

Prime Minister Oli welcomed the decision by the Madhesis to call off the agitation and said it was a “positive move.”

“The Prime Minister has stressed on talks among the parties to address the differences,” said a press note issued by Oli’s press advisor.

“I am confident that the differences and disputes can be addressed through talks among us,” said the prime minister, who had publicly announced that it would not be appropriate for him to visit India unless the border blockade ends.

Nepal’s Madhesi community, largely of Indian origin, are opposed to the new Constitution that divides their ancestral homeland under the seven-province structure and have led an ongoing blockade of key border trade points with India.

The blockade had caused much hardship to the general public as they were faced with acute shortage of petroleum products, cooking gas, medicines and other essentials due to closure of all border trade points between the two countries.

The blockade led to strain in the bilateral ties, with Kathmandu accusing New Delhi of imposing an “unofficial blockade”. With PTI inputs

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