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Indian workers evicted from Nepal

The labourers numbering between 150 and 200 were beaten up and forced to leave the kingdom.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2006 14:20 IST

Hundreds of Indian labourers have been forcibly evicted from Nepal following the growing unrest in the kingdom, provoking a sharp response from India, which warned King Gyanendra's government of far-reaching consequences.

Earlier this week, hundreds of people entered the premises of factories in Birgunj town, the industrial and commercial hub of Nepal, attacking Indian labourers who lived there.

The labourers numbering between 150 and 200 were beaten up, robbed and warned of dire consequences if they did not leave immediately.

The frightened men, most of who were from Bihar across the border, left en masse.

Matters might have taken an ugly turn but for the Indian police's intervention.

After fleeing to Raxaul across the border, the evicted labourers began to think of retaliation.

They headed for the Raxaul railway station with the intention of attacking the Sadbhavana Express coming from Delhi.

Since the train is usually full of Nepalis, the angry labourers planned to attack them in revenge for the injuries they suffered in Nepal.

However, alerted by the Indian authorities, the railway police swung into action.

They stopped the angry labourers, shepherded the Nepal-bound train passengers and escorted them to the Nepal border.

The Indian police then pacified the workers and allowed them to return to their destinations in India without having to pay fares.

Taking serious note of the incident, the Indian consulate in Birgunj has sent a note verbale to Nepal's foreign ministry, warning that if such an incident recurred, there would be far-reaching consequences for Nepal.

According to the Indian authorities, such events could jeopardise the lives and property of thousands of Nepalis working and living in India who would be at the receiving end of any mob fury.

Reacting quickly to the Indian warning, the administrative authorities of Parsa district and its neighbouring Bara have promised to investigate the attacks and punish the guilty.

The incident comes even as India has noted with concern the growing attacks on Indian joint ventures in the region by criminal gangs as well as Maoist insurgents.

In February, the managing director of an Indian joint venture in Birgunj was shot and wounded in broad daylight.

While King Gyanendra, who seized power with the help of the army last year, claims to have improved the law and order situation, Birgunj continues to be plagued by lawlessness, posing a major concern for businessmen, including Indians.

After the opposition parties called an indefinite shutdown nationwide from April 6, Birgunj remains cut off from Nepal with flights stopped and road transport completely halted.

Containers have been piling up at the dry port at Birgunj for at least six days with no one to unload the goods and no transport available.

But the government has been ignoring the crisis.

King Gyanendra paid a brief visit to Birgunj after the closure began. However, it was not to assess the situation but to attend a programme organised by a Hindu organisation, where the monarch was felicitated.