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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Merging India into Nepal!

June 26, 2008

Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
The Telegraph Nepal
June 24, 2008

Nepal communist party (Maoist) senior leader, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
has expressed his feeling publicly at a programme organized by young
industrialists on 11 May 2008 that Nepal-India open border should be
regulated, otherwise the two countries should be 'merged.' He further
said "Nepal's development is not possible with open border, either it
must be managed or let it be merged." Presenting his logic, he
further stressed that either it should be merged or it would mean
that Nepal was not an independent nation-state.

In course of his speech, Dr. Bhattarai repeated that the open border
with India is one of the hindrances of Nepal's industrialization. He
put his view to the industrialists- 'the main reason of Nepalese
industries knock down is the open border with India, and now the
border must be regulated.'

During his address to the Nepalese young entrepreneurs, he used the
word 'merge' three times and he pointed out four times the need to
regulate the open border of Nepal with India.

Now there may be inquisitiveness, in what sense Dr. Baburam Bhattarai
used the word 'merge.' And what is the meaning of 'merge' to him in
literal and political terms. In the other side of the coin, why he is
so interested to transform Nepal's open border into a regulated one.

Let me take up the second issue first. Truly speaking, it is not
exactly clear as to since when and how the people in both the
countries began entering each other's country openly, directly and
without any hindrances. However, it can be said that as soon as Nepal
restored four districts of Banke, Bardiya, Kailalai and Kanchanpur as
"New Territory" from the then British India on 1 November 1860, open
border system gradually came into practice between the two countries.
In fact, such an open movement across the border cannot be seen as
operative after the Sugauli treaty was signed on 4 March 1816. So it
can be safely concluded that until the return of the "New Territory"
to Nepal, the controlled border system was in practice between the
two countries.

It seems that the British government started to keep the India-Nepal
border open for two particular reasons. First, it wanted to make sure
that sturdy Nepali youths might travel to India without any
restrictions to get recruited in the Gorkha Regiment of the British
Army. Military officers of the East India Company were fully familiar
with qualities such as bravery, militancy and obedience of the Gorkha
(Nepali) soldiers, and wanted to recruit them for making the force
more powerful. Second, the East India Company had its hidden interest
of exporting British and Indian commercial goods to the Nepali market
and Tibet without any restrictions, and also importing Nepali timber,
forest products, herbal medicines, plants, hides and skins and other
raw materials to India.

Presently, open border system is creating some serious problems for
both the countries. Criminals commit crime in one frontier and they
cross the international border easily. They hide in the other side of
the border. On the other hand, India keeps on blaming Nepal that the
Urdu teachers teach in Madrasa of the Nepalese frontier. They make
plan to create disturbances to India. Nepal has not been sufficiently
watchful of their movement. In response, Nepal tried to convince
India many times that Nepal is very much alert on this matter and
there is no such activity by the teachers of Madrasa. Eventually,
India is not yet satisfied.

Second, many people have blamed open border policy for the hijacking
of an Indian Airlines aircraft with flight No. IC-814, which headed
to Delhi from Kathmandu on 24 December 1999 from Tribhuvan
International Airport. The plane was ultimately force landed at
Kandhar of Afganisthan and the passengers on board were detained for
a week. After this incident, a control mechanism has been enforced
with regard to operating air services between the two countries,
considering that the plane was hijacked because of the open border
between them. Under the new system, a compulsory provision requiring
the passport or identity card has been made for the air passengers.

Third, I would like to highlight that no mention has been made free
movement or open border in the Nepal-India Peace and Friendship
Treaty-1950. But it is only mentioned, the movement will be made on
the reciprocal basis. Portion of Article 7 says "India and Nepal
agree to grant, on reciprocal basis, to the nationals of one country
in the territories of the other, movement and privileges of a similar
nature." In this context, the then Councilor, Sanjaya Verma of Indian
Embassy, Kathmandu had said "In the 1950 Treaty, not a single point
speaks that there must be an open border system between Nepal and
India, but open border should be best construed as a symbol of
intimate bond between the two neighbours (Space Times Daily, July 2,
2004 page 6). So what should be understood that there is not a single
clause in any of the treaties, agreements, memorandum and
understanding reached between Nepal and India that inscribes open
border system. It is only an unofficial practice which has kept on
going for centuries by both the nations.

Realizing all these factors, Dr. Bhattarai might have come into
conclusion that Nepal-India open border should be regulated and well
managed to enhance Nepal's friendship further with India. It should
not be blamed each other on the background of open border system. Dr.
Bhattarai must have visualized so many problems of open border such
as cross-border terrorism, trafficking of narcotic drugs, smuggling
of red sandal wood, revenue leakage, transaction of illegal arms and
ammunition, women trafficking, kidnapping of individuals, entry of
Bhutanese refugees, degeneration of political values etc. So he
wanted to regulate the border to make the administration better, when
they form their government.

Now let us switch to the first issue, why Dr. Bhattarai made a speech
to merge two countries each other in a single country? If we have a
look in the Cambridge English Dictionary 'merge' means to unite,
combine, to lose identify by being absorbed, swallowed up etc.

Dr. Bhattarai might have a benign thought- if the two countries merge
with each other into a single one, there would be no hustle bustle in
the economic and political fields of Nepal. At the same time, Nepal
will not have to face the problems such as shortage of petroleum
products, problems of construction materials, black marketing of foodstuff etc.

In the political field, our political leaders should not have to
tolerate the grievances of Indian leaders. As an example, we could
cite a recent statement of Indian leaders. Communist party of India
(Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechuri, national congress general secretary
DP Tripathi, senior leftist leader D Raja formed a pressure group in
New Delhi on June 12. They have done homework to pressurize to make
Maoist Chairman Prachanda to be appointed as the prime minister of
Nepal. They said, Girija Prasad Koirala must resign from the post of
prime minister because he is holding the post against the mandate of
people of Nepal. The group is exerting pressure to their Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, not to help to Koirala in any sphere, as if
Nepal is a part and parcel of India like Bihar, Bengal and
Uttaranchal. If two countries be united together geographically,
Indian leaders should not take any head ache to make this type of statements.

On the other hand, if we study the historical geography, Indian
sub-continent were originated billions of years ago drifting
Gondwanaland from the present Australia. Geologists believe that
Indian sub-continent is still pushing underneath the Himalaya and
Eurasian Tibetan plateau at the rate of two centimeters per year.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar have
been geographically located on the Indian sub-continent. During
British Raj all these countries were under the British dominion,
except Nepal. Now the political fever has created a murmuring sound
that India and Nepal should be combined. In this regard more than
half a century ago Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (India's well known
freedom fighter) had forwarded a letter to the prime minister
Jawaharlal Nehru stating "The political and administrative steps
which we should take to strengthen our northern and north-eastern
frontiers. This would include the whole of the border i.e. Nepal,
Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling and the tribal territory in Assam." This
shows that there should be a single territory from the Himalaya on
the north to Cape Comorin (Kanya Kumari) on the south.

In this perspective, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai might have used the word
'merge' in association with the open border. This is not a bad idea
of Dr. Bhattarai to merge two boundaries into a single one, in the
context of global village and borderless vision. But this scribe has
a very serious reservation on Dr. Bhattarai's word 'merge' as fantasy
that Nepal should not be merged into India. However, if I recognize
the ideology of Dr. Bhattarai, I must say that India must be merged
into Nepal instead to eradicate economic, political trouble and to
solve the problems for ever. And certainly, the merged single
country, extended from Himalaya to Cape Comorin must be named as
'Nepal' but not 'India' on the globe.

Mr. Shrestha is Nepal's border expert
2008-06-25 07:03:36
Comments (1)

Question of 'merge' and regulating Nepal's border: - On April 10,
2008, the election day of Nepal as I observed from villagers, "A
youth, Sidhar, Ninth Standard pass replying on behalf and also all
others collectively said that this day was like Dewali festival for
all. On enquiry, all said that they all meant Indian Dewali which
they always celebrated there along with their socially and closely
related relatives from India. They further clarified that we (People
of India and Nepal being so close) fulfill our daily
requirements/necessities of life from across the border. They did not
admire barbed fence sealing of border or deployment of international
forces or any fortification for the purpose of stopping free movement
of people through the border. At the same time, they confessed that
whosoever tress-pass the border, he must be considered as a criminal
and there should be a remedy for correcting that illegality within
the new Constitution of Nepal, being framed/drafted and to be
finalized shortly. In reply to a question as to what effective remedy
and solution they suggested, the only harmonious relations between
both India and Nepal were the answer". In view of this Dr. Baburam
Bhattarai might have used the word 'merge' in association with the
open border Submission by Balbir Singh Sooch, then as a short Term
International Election Observer in Nepal.

Commented by Balbir Singh Sooch, short Term International Election
Observer in Nepal. - June 24, 2008 @ 10:09 PM
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