Prime Minister Narendra Modi took up the with his Nepalese counterpart KP Oli the killing of an Indian in police firing at the border on Monday and urged him to launch an investigation into the incident. The police fired into a crowd of protesters trying to block a key border checkpoint and killed the Indian civilian as anger over a new constitution boiled over.
The violence came hours after police forcibly broke up the blockade in the town of Birgunj on the border with India that has led to crippling fuel shortages and cut off access to other vital supplies in the landlocked Himalayan nation.
India also summoned Nepal ambassador Deep Kumar Upadhyaya over the incident, television channels reported. Upadhyaya told ANI a peace dialogue between the protesters and the Nepal government was being held. “This is a bilateral issue between India and Nepal; diplomatically we have to consult each other,” he added.
India asked its freight transporters to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger, an advisory which may deepen the supply crisis to the Himalayan nation. The government also said it was monitoring the situation carefully.
“We are deeply concerned at reports coming in of firing today (on Monday) in Birgunj. An innocent Indian was also killed in the firing. Issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively,” spokesperson in the external affairs ministry Vikas Swarup said.
He said Indian freight forwarders and transporters have voiced their worries again about the deteriorating situation across the border. “We are advising them to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger. We are monitoring the situation carefully,” he added.
Since the promulgation of the Constitution in Nepal in September, the Indian-origin Madhesi population has been agitating as they believe the country’s new Constitution discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.
The agitation obstructed supply of essential commodities including petrol thereby creating a crisis in Nepal, which accused India of imposing an “economic blockade”, a charge denied by India.
India maintained that the supply was obstructed due to protests on the Nepalese side and asked the Nepal government to have political resolution of issues facing that country which should have broad-based ownership and acceptance of the Constitution by all section of the society including those disaffected agitating forces.
With PTI inputs