Greater Nepal not against India but Indian colonialism: Phanindra Nepal
Posted by completenepal on May 23, 2010
Chairman of the Unified Nepal National Front (UNNF), Nepal is General Secretary of the Border Concern Civil Committee.
Excerpts of an interview by BN Dahal to Phanindra Nepal;
Q: You obstructed the road leading to Indian Embassy on 2 December. What is the significance of 2 December?
A: Britain had sent the proposal of Sugauli Treaty on 2 December, 1815. It mentioned ceding 40% of former Greater Nepal territory. Nepal under pressure had to sign the treaty on 4 March, 1816. Sugauli Treaty of 2 December is the reason behind the current geo-poltical reality of the nation. This is why we mark 2nd December as a ‘Black Day’ annually. This programme is a certain every year. It will continue until India returns our territory.
Q: There are allegations that the programmes you have launched are anti-Indian?
A: Our programmes of Greater Nepal are not against India. We have opposed the Nepali border encroachment by India. We have not opposed India. They neglected our appeals to stop encroachment, so we lunched the programmes. The territories that we have demanded do not belong to India. But when we raised the issues of Nepal’s nationality, sovereignty and its territories, India perceives such programmes as against it. We are not against India, we want to be its good friend. If it stops encroaching Nepali land and stops making Nepali people suffer, we would not go against India unreasonably.
Q: Your programmes are being opposed from Nepali sides as well. Why?
A: Many Nepali political parties have said that Nepal’s politics lies in Indian hands. For many intellectuals and party leaders, to oppose such programmes will be equal to worshipping India. Those leaders that accept Indian blessings to save their politics are the ones opposing us. Nepalese live in India’s New Delhi and Mumbai as well. We have not said that those territories belong to Nepal. We have demanded at the people’s level, that India, which is a nationalist, and democratic nation that has fought against colonization for 90 years, should not take over Nepal’s land lost after the Sugauli Treaty.
Q: Border encroachment is a subject between two nations. What kind of support have you received from Nepal’s government in your campaign?
A: Let alone the government’s support to our programmes. The incumbent Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, despite knowing that border has been encroached upon at different parts of the nation, she denied that such a thing has happened. It shows that there is no support to our programme. We were detained for eight hours when we launched a programme on 2 December. This also shows that the government does not support our programmes.
Q: Will Greater Nepal only raise the issue of border encroachment or other issues as well?
A: We have attached very important issues with Greater Nepal. Among those issues are the scrapping of 4.1 million citizenship given to foreigners. The citizenship should be given to those who fulfill certain criteria. The Nepal-India border should be either managed or controlled. We oppose Indian monopoly over water resources. The inundation in Tarai is an injustice as per international laws. Our campaign is directed towards that also.
Q: What is the area and what territories does Greater Nepal occupy?
A: Nepal’s territory was 2,04, 917 sq. km before the Sugauli Treaty was signed. Currently it is 1,47,181 sq. km. India has taken over 56,000 sq. km of our territory. Our territory spans from Tista in the East to Sutlej in the West.
Q: You have submitted numerous memorandums regarding the border encroachment to the Indian side. What reactions have you received?
A: After we submitted a memorandum at the Indian Embassy, they assured us that they would forward the same to their central government, and informing us that they cannot do anything. We do not believe that India would return our territories merely by acting on a memorandum. We want the world community to know that Nepal’s territory is under Indian control. This is our achievement. Q: Is it true that our territory is not only in India but as far as in Bangladesh?
A: Our land has spread to Bangladesh. It is true. But Bangladesh had not encroached on our land. That territory belongs to Nepal.
Q: Do you possess other documents other than the Sugauli Treaty to substantiate that India has encroached on Nepali territory?
A: There are many. Nepal-India treaty was reached on 3 July, 1950. Article 8 of the treaty mentions that all the agreements reached between Nepal and Britain have been abolished. The Sugauli Treaty was reached between Nepal and Britain. After that the treaty was abolished and Nepal’s territory was established from Tista to Kankada. As per international law, if the existence of one side, of the two sides engaged in a treaty, ends, then the treaty will be abolished. When Britain decided to leave India, it had said that it would leave India in its former state. So Nepali territories should have been returned or should be returned.
Q: You have been raising a nationalist issue on border encroachment. But those who call themselves nationalists have not shown any participation. Why?
A: There are some hilarious issues related to agitation for nationality. Nationalists’ are divided into splinters. One faction is afraid to support another due to jealousy as they fear that they will rise to power. Maybe, that is why our friends have not supported us. But I still believe nationality is hidden somewhere in their hearts. We are making efforts to expand our organization by including them.
Q: What is the Greater Nepal agitation?
A: Before Sugauli Treaty, Nepal’s border extended from Tista in the East to Sutlej in the West. After the treaty the border was limited to Mechi and Mahakali. When India achieved independence in 15 August, 1947, Nepali territories became independent. They should have been unified to Nepal, but it did not happen. Our demand is that it should happen. We want to remind India that it is maintaining colonialism over Nepali territories. We want to show the world that India has encroached on a large part of Nepal’s territory. We are of the opinion that such colonialism cannot continue in the 21st century. All those places Britain ruled have become independent.
Q: How do you garner economic support for your programmes?
A: We displayed black flags when Shiv Shankar Menon had arrived. Then we spent Rs. 900. Rs. 900 is not a big deal for nationalists. We have spent Rs. 8,000-9,000 in programmes. Friends are bearing the expenditure. We are fighting for Nepal’s border. Nepali people must help us.
Q: There are rumors that you receive money from Indians and you are launching programmes against India?
A: I have heard this for a long time. Such allegations were made when I used to write articles. We have done something that has not happened yet in front of the Indian Embassy in Lainchaur. Does India want to taint its prestige by itself? So this is a conspiracy. It may be driven by a motive that if such rumors are spread, the agitation will collapse.
Q: So you are working without interest?
A: I teach in Tribhuvan University. I am supposed to study for Phd degree, but due to this agitation I have not been able to do that. I am at the final stage. I have self-interest. When Nepali territory under Indian control is returned, then our border will join with Bangladesh. We can reach sea from there. We will be freed from Indian slavery. I want a free and sovereign Nepal and that is my self-interest.
Q: Indian SSB has sent a proposal to the center to place barbed wire at the border, while Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood called for constructing a border wall. Will not this secure Nepal’s border?
A: The idea of placing barbed wire and wall at Nepal-India border is full of bad intention. The barbed wire was proposed to give legitimacy to the land that has been already encroached. We agree with the two ideas, but Nepal’s border before the Sugauli Treaty should be taken as a basis. Then we will welcome what ever is placed at the border, whether it is barbed wire of wall. We people and government oppose the idea of constructing a wall at the current border.
Q: You have been raising the issue of Greater Nepal, but there are works going on to disintegrate Nepal?
A: Nepali indigenous nationalities do not want to live separately by dividing the nation. No one wants this. It has been proved that the efforts to disintegrate the nation are being made from the southern side. This issue was raised by those coming to national politics from India. I do not believe that this will succeed. The Nepali people will fight against the nation’s disintegration.
Q: It is rumored that your anti-Indian programmes have the support of North East?
A: We are the agitators demanding that the Nepali territories under Indian control be returned. Like this, there is a fight in Indian administered Kashmir demanding for independence. Likewise, various ethnic groups are demanding independence in Nepal’s east to North East. Nepal’s Greater agitation and North East agitation seems to be related in this way. We have extended moral support for their agitation. They have also morally supported our agitation. We do not have any sort of working alliance.
Q: The Indian side proposed referendum in places such as Darjeeling. What do you have to say to this?
A: Provision related to referendum cannot be biased. We are not afraid that India will show majority by referendum in Darjeelign because it is a place where there is Nepali majority. Referendum should also be held in Nepal to seek opinion on whether to take back Nepali territory that it had before the Sugauli Treaty. International law calls for referendum in both the nations.
Q: Royal institution has collapsed, is the monarchy nationalist or political party leaders?
A: Monarchy is not a complete nationalist. But none of the political parties proved themselves to be as nationalist as the king. During monarchy’s rule, national unity did not witness such instability as now. The foreign intervention was not as high. The political leadership should learn from this, they must correct themselves.