Leaflet for distribution on Indian expansionist threat to Nepal
Posted by completenepal on February 9, 2010
Indian expansionist threat to Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
Nepalese people residing abroad would like to draw your attention on the following issues: 1) the encroachment of Nepalese land by the Indian authorities in several districts bordering India and the displacement of people following the encroachment. 2) The inundations of Nepalese land as a result of the construction of embankments and dams by India near the border thus violating international conventions.
The deployment of the Indian Border Special Force (Sima Sasastra Bal-SSB) in the encroachment of Nepalese land and the harassment of the Nepalese people living in Nepalese territory close to the border with India has long been an issue plaguing the relationship between the peoples of the two countries. The Indian border security forces stationed at Kalapani have for long enforced the settlement of Indian civilians in the Nepalese districts of Dang, Nawalparasi, Bara and several other bordering districts. This is nothing less than annexation of Nepalese territories by stealth. Recently, Nepalese people from bordering villages in Dang district have been forcibly driven out from their homes. We strongly condemn the invasion and occupation of Nepalese land by India and the displacement of the Nepalese people from the bordering villages.
Land encroachment problem
Time and again, the Nepalese people living along the border with India have faced land encroachment and security threats from the SSB. The dispute in June 2009 at bordering villages in Dang district has caused displacement of more than 2,000 Nepalese people. They were forced to leave their homes because of the use of force by the Indian SSB. The displaced people, who have become internal refugees, have reported abductions and sexual harassment carried out by the SSB who have also destroyed their houses and beaten them. Such acts of the SSB have not only violated the human rights of Nepalese people, but are also contraventions of the international laws and conventions. We feel that this has further damaged the historical friendly relationship between the peoples living in both countries. We condemn such misconducts carried out by the SSB against the people living in the Nepalese territory.
Like in previous border disputes, the dispute in Dang district has raised great public outcry in Nepal. The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has issued a press release denying charge of the land encroachment and people’s displacement by the Indian authorities terming it as propaganda. The statement says, “The Embassy categorically rejects the allegations as baseless and motivated by vested interests in an attempt to vitiate the friendly and cordial relationship between India and Nepal”. It is regrettable that the statement has not been able to address the gravity of the problem. The statement has indeed served to widen and deepen the mistrust between Indian and Nepalese people by calling into question the grievances of the victims of the tragedy. Rather than mitigating the problems, it has concealed the ground reality and has tried to bypass the factual evidences. We feel that it has hurt and disregarded the patriotic feeling of the Nepalese people. We therefore reject this blindfolded statement from the Indian Embassy.
A general perception in Nepal is that the Indian ambassador to Nepal Mr. Rakesh Sood is acting as a politician. In the interference of Nepal’s internal affairs the present Indian ambassador has outdone all his predecessors. His brazen involvement in Nepal’s political development, in particular concerning the recent Nepal Army Chief sacking episode which led to the fall of the democratically elected Maoist-led government and formation of the unelected UML-led government. These new developments have the blessings, if not the support of the Indian state and other foreign powers as well as very backward internal political forces of Nepal. These are vile, but living examples of interference in Nepal’s internal affairs. We vehemently denounce such political intervention by India through its diplomats in Nepal. We call on the Indian state to refrain from interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs.
Despite the denial of the Indian Embassy on the border issue, the Nepal Constituent Assembly’s National Interest Protection Committee and the members of the International Relations and Human Rights organisations, including some border experts and representatives of many political parties and student bodies have conducted investigations concerning the displacement of people in the villages in Banke and Dang districts.
Susta village in Nawalparasi district is another example of the border encroachment by India. Here, according to border experts, Nepal has lost over 14,000 hectors of land making more than 50 families homeless. In the village of Susta, Nepalese people who have been victims of the oppressive and expansionist policy of India, are forcibly converted into Indian citizens.
Nepal shares border with India on three sides: in the east, along the south and the west. Out of the 26 bordering districts, 22 districts have been facing border encroachment. It is reported every year that the border demarcation pillars are either shifted inside Nepal or moved after they have been found missing by floods. Preliminary reports show that nearly 60,000 hectors of Nepali land has been taken over by India through relocation of boundary pillars. There are evidences that some of the boundary pillars are shifted inside Nepal by the direct involvement of the SSB. The land measurement conducted recently this year in the bordering Bara district shows that nearly 30 bigha land has been encroached from the Indian side.
Embankments and dams caused problems
Nepal has not only been facing the land encroachment problem, but has also been suffering from the inundation caused by the embankments and dams constructed near the boundary areas violating the international conventions. India has signed the Helsinki Convention which says that no country can build dams and embankments that affects the neighbouring country. Despite the international regulations and conventions, India has built the Mahalisager Dam, Khurdalotan Dam and the Laxmanpur Barrage all near the border area have caused inundation of Nepalese territories and displacement of several thousand people.
The Rasiyawal Khurdalotan dam, constructed unilaterally by India along Nepal-India border near Marchawar in southern part of Rupendehi district, has given rise to floods on the Nepali side of the border. About 300 houses and 200 hectors of cultivated land come under water every year. Similarly, the construction of the 22 km long Laxmanpur barrage across the Rapti River without Nepal’s consent is a clear violation of India of the international laws, practices and norms by India. How a democratic country like India could have done such an undemocratic deed and brought so much woe and misery to thousands of Nepalese people living near the Nepal-India boarderies difficult to comprehend. (http://www.sandelman.ottawa.on.ca/lists/html/dam-l/2000/msg01929.html)
The Laxmanpur barrage has been constructed by India within 300 meters of the international border. The project was undertaken without considering its effects on human life on the Nepalese side of the border. Neither did India get the necessary approval from Nepal before the construction of this dam. A study report shows that more than 15,000 local people in 33 villages are affected and thousands of hectares of arable land are inundated in Nepal. The international law states “any country, if constructs such an embankment or dam within 8km that affects directly or indirectly another country, must get prior approval”.
The historical dispute between India and Nepal also involves the encroachment of nearly 75 square km of in Kalapani, where China, India, and Nepal meet. The Indian forces have occupied the area since 1962 and are still stationed on the Nepalese territory.
If India really desires to be a friend of Nepal, it must stop its SSB-backed land encroachment. If India wants to continue with its expansionist policy and seize Nepal’s land and water resources, then there will arise a situation of violent conflicts which could very well turn into war, a patriotic nationalist war against Indian aggression and expansion from the point of view of the people of Nepal.
Historical facts: Sugauli Treaty 1816
The Sugauli Treaty was signed in 1816 between the British East India Company and Nepal. The British East India Company had forced Nepal to sign the treaty compelling Nepal to concede it vast tracts of territory. The Sigauli treaty actually legalized seized territory whereby Nepal lost one-third of its land size but gained the British empire a huge territorial advantage.
Until the Sugauli Treaty was signed, the territory of Nepal also included Darjeeling, and Tista to the east, Nainital to the south-west and Kumaun, Garwal and Bashahar to the west. These areas today have become part of independent India. As a result, present Nepal shares no boundary with Bangladesh and the two countries are separated by a narrow strip of land about 21 kilometres wide, the Siliguri Corridor. The border dispute between Nepal and India has often been a cause of tension between the two countries.
Sikkim, Kumaon and Garhwal which are now part of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, much of the Terai plains in the south and some areas that are now in India’s Himachal Pradesh, were wrested from Nepal and became part of India as per the treaty. Later in 1857 Nepal had signed a new Peace treaty with British India by which some territories were returned to Nepal, namely in the west Terai districts of Banke, Bardia, Kailali and Kanchanpur. Though the Sugauli Treaty was superseded by the Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty signed in 1950 with an independent India, the ceded territory by the Sugauli treaty was never returned to Nepal. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Sugauli)
The unequal treaties signed in 1950 and 1965 between Nepal and India must be scraped and replaced by new friendship treaties based on the principles of peaceful coexistence, mutual respect and equality. This call has been taken up seriously by several political parties in Nepal headed by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) [UCPN (M)] which swept the April 2008 elections. The Maoists have been calling for the review or the supersession of all unequal treaties signed with India by new friendship treaties based on equality, mutual respect and real friendship.
Boundaries are manifestations of national identity. The attack on Nepal’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is also an attack on Nepal’ national identity. The border dispute between Nepal and India has actually been associated with the English East India Company of the 19th century.
Even if the Sugauli Treaty was not favourable to Nepal, the Sugauli Treaty (1816) and the Peace Treaty (1857) should be taken as the baseline to re-erect the missing boundary pillars between the Nepal and India.
The Indian and Nepalese governments must initiate a joint verification process to settle these numerous border disputes. We are confident that both countries will settle the existing border disputes for the harmony and friendly relationship among of the people living along the bordering villages.
We therefore strongly call for a scientific border demarcation based on the historical documents and facts. We request India to acknowledge the importance of peaceful coexistence. The land encroachment and border related disputes must be settled through bilateral talks through diplomacy. We feel that only this will only be a lasting solution to the ongoing boundary disputes. Since the boundary dispute between Nepal and India is connected to the history of Nepal, this should be resolved within wider bilateral relations. Both the countries must initiate a dialog, set a joint surveying team and start scientific demarcation. Border control will also help to stop the criminal activities existing in the present porous border conditions.
A scientific approach to the solution of the border problem will be helpful to restore peace and harmony among the people of both countries. The unequal treaties signed in 1950 and 1965 between Nepal and India must be abrogated. Only then can new friendship treaties be signed based on the principles of peaceful coexistence and equality.