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Trade Blockade By India Against Nepal: Extreme Act Of Cruelty And Crime Against Humanity – OpEd

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The lives of millions of people in Nepal, crippled already by the April earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, have now been further devastated by almost two months of undeclared economic-trade blockade by India. Things, moreover, could yet get a lot worse. What is happening? People are puzzled, not knowing what to expect next. They are unable to travel because there is no gasoline at the pumps. They cannot cook for themselves because there is no gas available. Soon the food, water, medicine and other essentials for daily life will run out in the stores. People experienced a miserable Dashain and another festival is just around the corner. Until when should the people wait? Who is responsible for this? Many questions must be asked on this issue: What is our so-called government doing to address the present crisis? Are they trying properly, and sincerely to solve the turmoil? Where even is the presence of our government?

War by other means

The so-called undeclared trade blockade by India against Nepal, without doubt, amounts to a declared war against the people of Nepal. In the eyes of international law, an undeclared trade blockade is seen as being a declared war. In a true sense, it is a war situation, a form of war against our sovereignty. However, it indicates many more things. First, it is illegal: it is completely against all international laws, internationally established traditions, customs and decent behaviour among states. It is also against the Nepal-India Peace and Friendship Treaty, international trade rules such as the WTO, and, most importantly, it is against the established norms and values of SAARC itself.

Second, the ill-conceived action of India against our country is a crime against humanity and an outrage against the dignity of the people of Nepal. Where is that respect for the dignity of a landlocked country and population? The domineering action by India against Nepal violates all kinds of people’s rights – economic, social and cultural plus civil and political. Most importantly, it violates the rights of the people of Nepal to live in dignity in the fullest sense. It is a disgrace that the so-called largest democracy in the world can run away from its extra-territorial human rights obligations and responsibilities as required by the norms and values of international human rights documents towards other nations and their people. Moreover, the move by India is extremely immoral, inhumane and an extreme act of cruelty. It is an act that is more than just illegal: it is against common sense and human conscience. I am left to wonder how this could possibly happen in this world of the twenty-first century?

Find viable solutions

What is next for us is the big question – both as a nation and as a sovereign people. The primary duty of a state or government is to protect, promote and fulfill the needs of its people. Because of the unexpected blockade, people have been suffering so much for nearly two months already and the government seems helpless. For the latter there is no excuse. The government must act faster to fulfill the needs of the people and to end the crisis. It must find options and solutions. There is no escape. The people deserve answers and explanations. Otherwise they have every right to revolt against the present government.

Firstly, the largest problem that we have is that we are totally reliant upon imports from India, including much of our food, consumer goods, and 100 percent of our fuel – aviation fuel, petrol, diesel and cooking gas. It is the major cause and consequence of past and present fuel crises. We must learn lessons and prepare for the future. The monopoly of India must be halted. We must start to approach other countries for the import of fuels. For this proper homework and a pragmatic mechanism are required. The recent agreement, signed by Nepal Oil Corp and Petro China in Beijing just a few days ago could be the new, fresh beginning that is much needed. We must establish this fresh agreement and build on it in a permanent and pragmatic way. The agreement and any subsequent agreements between the two nations must be based on mutual co-operation. They must be transparent and inclusive but, most importantly, be based on equality. It must be a win-win situation for both sides. Finding a permanent solution to the enduring fuel problem is more vital than ever before.

Secondly, today’s is not the first blockade that has been imposed by our neighbour. We must learn from the past. We must be prepared. For that we must invest to produce energy by ourselves. We have resources such as water. Focus must be given to producing power and electricity. As various studies have demonstrated, there are yet chances of finding petrol in our own country. A proper and effective investigation must go ahead. Pragmatic mechanisms and strategies must be established to do that sooner than later. Promulgating proper dynamic laws, programmes and policies to address the issue will be an important step forward aimed at becoming a self-reliant country for energy within a few decades.

Finally, why is our government unable to declare the Indian move to be a deliberate blockade? What are the reasons? People need an explanation. In a free society, people must be informed. We cannot delay any longer moves to internationalize the illegal and undeclared trade blockade. As we are an independent, sovereign nation and one of the oldest members of the UN itself, I wonder what stops us simply doing that? We are also responsible members of the international political community. Nepal, as a nation and as a state, has dignity and respect – and of course claim rights as a landlocked nation in accordance with the various international laws, treaties and traditions. We must use our diplomatic channels properly – and the UN as well – to do that. At the same time we must continue a high-level political dialogue with our Indian counterparts to end the crisis. Bilateral political talks, cooperation and convincing each other can alone achieve a viable and permanent solution.

I strongly suggest establishing an open and inclusive diplomacy with India based on equal sovereignty and dignity: without that the present problem will not be solved permanently. To do this, many old unequal treaties on various issues between the two countries might have to be changed or rewritten. Openness, respect and mutual co-operation will decide the course of future relations between two neighbours. In the meantime, just removing the blockade by South alone will not be enough. Nothing can soothe the pains and suffering that the people of Nepal are going through as a result of the blockade, and nothing can fill the huge hole created by it. However, a sincere apology from our Indian counterparts towards the people of Nepal for their wrong doing can at least go part way towards healing the wounds of our people.

Dr. Gyan Basnet

Dr. Gyan Basnet

Dr. Gyan Basnet, who holds a Ph.D. and an LL.M degree in International Human Rights Law at Lancaster University, U.K, is a Prominent Columnist, Lecturer & Researcher in International Human Rights Law and a Human Rights and Constitutional Law Lawyer in the Supreme Court and Subordinate Court of Nepal. Email: [email protected]

22 thoughts on “Trade Blockade By India Against Nepal: Extreme Act Of Cruelty And Crime Against Humanity – OpEd

  • Avatar
    November 6, 2015 at 8:02 am
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    I find it strange that the author chooses to gloss over the GoI’s repeated assertions that it is for Nepal to ensure the blockade by its citizens is ended and it cannot force private truckers stranded at the border to move into Nepal, if they are not sure whether the Nepali government can assure them a safe passage. The author has deliberately chosen to ignore the GoI’s stand and it is mischievous to not talk at all about why the Nepali ethnic groups have been blockading the roads in Nepal and why the Nepali leaders have not managed to calm their fears. It is not on the Indian side that the blockade exists, but on the Nepali border. Why doesn’t the author point that out.

    It is not just easy to blame India and the people of India, but intellectually dishonest for someone who holds a degree in International Human Rights Law and is a SC lawyer. The Govt of India has not promulgated any law blocking the movement of goods to Nepal. The entire article is biased, for the author does not point out the source of the problem- the Nepali politicians and drafters of the Constitution, whose actions led to the stir amongst certain Nepali communities. The situation continues as before and none of the mainstream Nepali sections have done anything to assuage them.
    Recently, it was only after the Nepali police arrested some of those blocking the roads that some trucks moved in. The Nepali goods are waiting at Indian ports not because India has decreed that no Nepali goods be allowed to move, but because Nepal has not done enough to assure private transporters that they will find safe passage at the border.

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    • Avatar
      November 8, 2015 at 10:02 am
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      Sir, Madesh protest is going on only in certain part of India-Nepal boarder. But what about the boarder in far western part? No Madesh agitation is going on in those areas? So why india is blocking the access to trucks carrying fuel and commodities? We Nepalese are not against people of India, but definately our dissatisfaction is against the Indian government who is responsible to make the daily life of Nepalease people difficult. People are in queue for 5 days to get 5 liters of fuel. No gas supply to cook food.

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    • Avatar
      November 11, 2015 at 5:07 am
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      There are other points in Nepal where there are no conflicts and protests – India is choosing not to allow supplies through those clear channels either. Conflict is only happening in one specific section of Nepal – all other ports and roadways for the most part are clear. So yes India is 100% at fault. And they messed up b/c now Nepal inked a deal with China to buy their oil.

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    • Avatar
      November 17, 2015 at 7:02 am
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      Dear Welingkar,
      To your concern I would like to say three things, please take it thoroughly.

      1) There are many trade routes and custom check points. And only one is blocked by agitators which supplies 70% of total imports. Theoretically, rest 30% supplies should have been running considering your point. But, basic needs supplies and drugs are running out of stock. In addition, why aren’t container trucks not allowed for route change permit then.

      2) I completely resist that agitation is by ethnic group of Nepal. If so then why Indian dies if police opens fire. Why Indian citizens are arrested if police arrest agitators. And next why agitators are fed in Indian camp. Do you have answer to this? If you need I can provide link of news in foreign media.

      3) You said drivers are not willing to cross border. If so was the case why would they load their containers and drive to border to stand in queue. Loading containers, driving to border and not willing to cross, how witful!! Also only drivers carrying fruits, vegetables, potatoes (which rot with time) had gut to cross border, ridiculous!!

      So this is clear that Indian government is doing this. But we are Nepali who never bowed to any power and never will!!!
      #backoffindia

      Reply
  • Avatar
    November 6, 2015 at 11:26 am
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    To blame others for your inherent problems is the easiest thing. The present Indian Government had done everything possible to take care of its landlocked neighbour. PM Modi had gone all resolve all petty issues as part of neighbour’s first policy. We helped Nepal abundantly during Earthquake, though I accept that Indian Media was insensitive, which as a matter of fact it is even while covering domestic issues. So what has happened in between few months that some one as intellectual as the Author is alleging that India is waging a War??????
    the root cause is Constitution of the Nepal which discriminates its own citizens and is manipulating boundaries to facilitate the hegemony of the influential Highlanders over the majority Madhesis and other. Even then, there is no blocakde on Indian side, there are trucks waiting with logistics but for the internal blockades with in Nepal. Nepal should resolve its own issues amicably. As far as relations with other countries are concerned, it is with in Nepal’s right to do everything to make itself a prosperous country.

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    • Avatar
      November 7, 2015 at 2:54 am
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      Please read the constitution first and comment. There is no discrimination against any particular group or ethnicity. The constitution is voted in favor by 90% of the representatives. This is Modi’s blockade because Nepal didn’t become Hindu nation as Modi wanted. This is his revenge.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    November 6, 2015 at 10:56 pm
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    This write up is a total hogwash, though I do have reservationx with the previous two comments as well. I call this type of writing a bahunistic interpretation of facts and truths. Calling for international mercy, giving reasons like “crippled by earthquake”, “celebration of dasain and other festivals,” “landlocked country”, “illegal, immoral”, “pending humanitarian crisis”, “internationalization of the issue” simply are not going to work when the problem clearly resides within Nepal, not outside Nepal. Whether you call it the blockade official or unofficial, economic or other, direct or indirect, it is only the symptom, not the cause of the problem. The root cause is the Oli Government in Kathmandu. As long as this government continue to rule the roost, Nepali people will continue to suffer. The irony here is that the power structure in Kathmandu thinks that more sufferings by Nepali people means gaining more international sympathy and this will ultimately lead India to bow down its head in shame. This is sickening argument. What I de-taste most about India move is that it has not considered how the regime is taking advantage of this situation (through black marketing, artificial shortages) at the cost of common poor. India needs to sharpen its target, hits the bulls eye of the power structure.

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  • Avatar
    November 6, 2015 at 11:14 pm
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    Too many words The reality is citizens from India along with unstaisfied group are throwing stones from their border There is undeclared blockade About the relying on others is due to the landlocked country If Nepal had had access to Sea there would have been no problem The cruel reality is that small nations like Nepal must architect nuclear lethal technology. Small nations can not win but one thing is sure the invader Will face the death of their population This Is the jungle law

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 2:11 am
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    The security reasons,due to the protest,that India has shown was there before Nepal had declared its constitution and India didnot seem to have any security problem back then.But, when Nepal didnot approve its 7 proposed amendments on the constitution,suddenly there was corncerns about security. I am not sure what to make of that.If its not hypocrisy,then god knows what it is.

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 3:04 am
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    I just want to point out some to guys who don’t think it is Indian blockade. You must first analyse the situation and make a point of view on what is truth, as truth will always prevail.
    1. First do you know there are more than 7 trade routes between Nepal and India see link (http://www.visitnepal.com/travelers_guide/entry_points.php , http://un.org.np/sites/default/files/2012-07-4-kolkata-route.pdf)
    Out of these only one in Birgunj is disrupted by protesters. So how come essential supplies in all other routes where there are no protests are being blocked.
    2. If the protests were genuine and there was no interest of India on Nepal’s internal matters then how come out of 12 protectors arrested, 5 were holding Indian citizenship and one unfortunate killed on police firing was Indian national. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/world/asia/nepal-india-police-clashes.html?ref=topics (what will you say if a Pakistani comes to your land and protests against Indian government and the one killed during clash was Pakistani? is it acceptable to India?)
    3. Why every day 1000s protesters are being fed across the border (in India) by one of BJP businessman? is he doing for free? is he doing on the basis of humanity? well, well its pretty clear enough even for a little kid to know the answer to this.

    Well guys there are many other points that clearly states what the truth is. We Nepali are not biased against any Indians, we always want to be good friends but however if due to one politician’s failed policy if this relation breaks then it is not good for both sides. We might be small county but our dignity and sovereignty had been and is our pride so lets be friends and stop all this.

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 4:00 am
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    Those of us that live in Kathmandu and face the issues everyday know very well what is going on.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 4:09 am
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    Cool down Delhi, let Nepal be
    Nov 7, 2015,

    The death of an Indian national in police firing in Nepal serves to bring down by another notch the already deteriorating relations between the two countries. As if this were not enough, India’s statement at the United Nations that it was “concerned” over “lack of political progress” and incidents of “violence, extra-judicial killings and ethnic discrimination” in Nepal has aggravated already frayed tempers in Kathmandu. Since September, when Nepal’s new Constitution was passed by a huge majority, India’s relationship with its neighbour has gone downhill, with an undeclared economic blockade by Delhi that has thrown life in Nepal out of gear. Though the Indian government has denied this and said that the trucks carrying essential commodities are unable to cross over to Nepal due to protests by the Madhesis, for all practical purposes it is a blockade.

    It is unfortunate that the Indian government has found it difficult to accept Nepal’s new Constitution. The Narendra Modi government has backed the Madhesis who say that the new Constitution has marginalised them in the way the country has been divided into eight federal provinces. The Madhesis aver that the reorganisation along geographical lines, rather than that of ethnicity, has emasculated their community. The Indian government, with its pronounced pro-Hindu tilt, is also reportedly peeved at the Nepali parliament adopting secularism. Under monarchy, Nepal was a Hindu kingdom. The Indian government’s irritation towards the new dispensation in Nepal is therefore showing up in more ways than one. India’s raking up of Nepal’s human rights record at the United Nations, for instance, is unprecedented. Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has understandably criticised India’s action and has attributed it to New Delhi’s new-found animosity towards Kathmandu.

    It is a matter of concern that the Indian government, by its rigid stance over the new Nepal Constitution and consequent reaction, is frittering away a long and deep relationship between the two nations. Nepal is already turning towards China for succour and the government in Beijing has started obliging Kathmandu with essential supplies. Though it does not cover the shortages Nepal is facing, a platform is being set up that may have long-term adverse consequences for India. The raking up of Nepal’s human rights issue at the United Nations was, at best, only a ploy to embarrass Kathmandu. No other purpose would have been served by bringing it up at that forum. It is time that the Modi government does a serious rethink and backs off from its belligerence. It is only fair that Nepal be allowed a free hand to settle its internal issues arising out of the new Constitution.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 6:34 am
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    dear commentrater india is why blocking other check point where agitatrater donot disturbing . there is more than 27 custom check point in india and nepal borders why india blocking most of vehicle passing this checkpoint . It is open secret indias interest in nepal water not in madhesi people.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 7:44 am
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    The above mentioned commented are not aware of the situation and yet are commenting. Pity. And the actual scenario is, there are more than thirteen places between Nepal and india, from which the transportation vehicles move. And there is protest only in one, that is Birgunj. In other areas, the custom and SSB, hinder the passage of the vehicles in the name of ‘order from above’. The Indian oil corporation, despite its agreement denies to fill the Nepali tankers. Is it due to terai unrest or blockade? Can’t you see? And what is the norm of democracy? If everyone can’t accept a thing, the decision by majority is accepted. In the name of madhesi, Indian paid volunteers are involved in violence against Nepal and security personnel. We have video proof of the protester that recently killed in Birgunj was an Indian, two out of five agitators arrested was Indian. What India is trying to do, whole world can understand. This is blockade, and equivalent to state of war against Nepali people. Shame India……

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 7:45 am
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    I am a Nepali and I believe that to a great extent our patriotism/nationalism is based on creating a villain figure whom we can chastise for all our problems and sufferings. We fail to even acknowledge that we could be partially or fully responsible for our problems.

    We cannot expect to succeed as a sovereign state if our constitution outcasts 1/4th of our population. We cannot expect people who have been deprived of basic right to citizenship to cooperate with “Kathmandu”. We just need to address the elephant in the room and come out with a solution to the demands of the “Terai Folks”.

    The article above is like a case study on the fact that we love to play the blame game. He calls the situation “a war on Nepal” waged by India. He fails to see and acknowledge that if we don’t take responsibility for our problems soon enough, our country might just go into a civil war. Blaming India then wouldn’t do much good then, would it Mr. Basnet?

    If we are to become a true democracy, we need to learn to talk out our problems. We need to respect and take everybody’s perspective into the picture. It is a slow process and more often than not, a painful one. However, it is also the most humane and successful one. Unless we can start doing the above, I recommend we call back Mr. Gyanendra to take the helm and go back to our daily lives. We can then blame India all we want and not have to worry about fuel and basic supplies. What else do we need?

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 8:05 am
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    I think the commenter is biased or does not have sufficient knowledge or pretending to do so.

    Because
    1. There is 1800 kilometer of open border between nepal and india
    Only one entry point is blocked from Nepal side
    2. The petroleum products carrying trucks are Nepali trucks their refuel is being denied and whatever is refueled is being blocked.
    3. Re- routed gas bullet trucks to non affected area are blocked.
    4. They had not passed any law for the blockade that is why it is called unofficial blockade.
    5. if india cares about human rights issue first ask modi the same question about gujarat mass killing.
    6. If india talks about true public voices it should give Gorkhaland in darjeeling.

    I request them to read the quote by abraham lincoln ” you can fool one person all the time, or you can fool all the people one time but you cannot fool all the people all the time”

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 8:53 am
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    Nothing more to clarify when we follow the facts,
    1. Video evidence of an indian participating in violent agitation against Nepalese forces, was shot dead later.
    2. Two out of five people arrested in the Birgunj protest were Indians.
    3. Only One out of 13 boarder transit is in protest, rest is blocked by the Indian security forces called SSB and, customs, and they say it ‘following orders from above’.
    4. Indian oil corporation, despite its agreement with Nepal oil corporation rejects fuelling the tankers from Nepal.
    The whole world is not blind enough to make a blind eye to these facts.
    To impose an blockade to a democratic country to other in any name is equivalent to the state of war. Many Indian friends don’t understand the gravity of the situation, and comment easily. It’s natural too, because in the planned manner, Modi has tried to fool the international community and its own citizens by falsifying the facts. Shame on India. If it is the diplomacy of so called democratic country like India, hail north Korea. It is better than India, it doesn’t deceive.

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  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 5:29 pm
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    India would not want a Naturalized Pakistani to be able to able to hold a top level post especially id they may still hold Pakistani citizenship.
    Would they?

    So why does India expects Biharis who got Nepali citizenship illegally should be able to get top jobs? Unless its to Sikkimize Nepal.
    If India were to be honest, she would work with Nepal to form a joint commision to investigate dual citizenship for both Indians and Nepalese.
    Dual Citizenship is illegal in both countries. So why not investigate?
    That would fix half the problem.

    Nepal has borders with India on the East side as well….why not send fuel from th east if South is blocked? Why not send fuel from the borders which are clear on the Nepal side? Why are Indian customs and SSB delaying goods when Nepal is facing a humanitarian crisis?

    Also it laughable for modi Govt. to question Nepal on humanitarian issues? We didnt do Punjab/ Gujrat massacres, we dont lynch people for “eating beef”. We dont intice violence against other communal and religious groups. Mr.Modi should look in the mirror before pointing finger at Nepal. (Three fingers are still pointed towards you).

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 7, 2015 at 10:17 pm
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    India, be a good neighbor, not the boss.

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  • Avatar
    November 11, 2015 at 1:40 pm
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    India has imposed border blockade against Nepal.It is the truth.It has crippled and paralyzed the normal life in Nepal.India is Nepal’s neighbour but India has never been a true and real friend of Nepal.Recent heinous move by Nepal is a crime against humanity.Because of trade blockade there has been acute shortages of medicine,fuels,food etc. India’s this brutal move has created humanitarian crisis in Nepal.Whatever reason comes in the surface the underlying reason for this trade blockade by Indian Government against Nepal is the underlying slavery psychopathological condition consealed deep down among the minds of Indian rulers imposed upon Indians by Britishers for morethan 200 years.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    November 14, 2015 at 2:21 am
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    What the author has emphasised in this article is true. But I think GOI is not the only one involved in this undeclared blockade. Well regarding the blockade. Are we not capable of providing security in the border gates? It’s just the matter of giving orders to the security personnel. The defect is not at the execution level. There must be something cooking inside the cabinet that is withdrawing from decision to tighten security forces in the border gates. Politicians are assuring people for the resolution of problem very soon, but they aren’t doing anything to boost up the security at borders……..

    Reply
  • Avatar
    February 10, 2016 at 7:54 am
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    In fight of two elephant grass always loss.
    Same case is here in fight of two asian giant (India and China) Nepal will lose.

    Reply

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