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Nepal-India Border Dispute: Nepalese Reactions Online

Categories: South Asia, India, Nepal, International Relations, Politics, Protest

Couple of weeks back, reports of alleged land encroachment by India border security forces hit the Nepalese media. On the historic perspective on Nepal-India border, Nepaldemocracy [1] has an in-depth report.

According to Republica [2]:

“Some 2000 Nepalis from villages on Nepal-India border who have been displaced due to alleged harassment by Indian border security forces are running out of the meager food stuff they brought with them. [..]

The number of displaced due to harassment by India´s border security force — Sashastra Surakshya Bal (SSB) — is increasing. Even on Tuesday, some 250 came to Satbariya. Many are still on the highway not knowing where to go.”

Nepal's government has promised to look into the issue but the public anger is palpable. Around the country several protest rallies have been organized. Maoists and student organizations are taking the lead. According to Nepalnews [3], student organizations have decided to send delegation to border areas to asses the situation.

Online, reactions to the dispute ranges from frustration to call to regulate open Indo-Nepal border and organize grassroots citizen effort to publicize the issue and force peaceful and equitable solution.

Bivash [4], a blogger who is sympathetic towards the Maoists, points towards the open border between India and Nepal as a security problem and that regulated border could help ease tension.

“The open border is always operating at the pleasure of Indian interest. India has time and again used the open border issue to threaten Nepal whenever it feels that Nepal is not responding to its interest. There are incidents of major transit points closed for long duration by India without consulting Nepal as a punishment for dealing with other countries without India’s prior knowledge and consent.

However, after the birth of Maoist insurgency in Nepal, and especially in the past few years, India is also feeling the heat of negative implication of the left-wing and anti-Indian coordination in both countries that is linked to its internal security concern. So, it is the time for not only Nepal, but also India to rethink its strategic policy about the open border in the changing context of regional security as well as cross border undesirable activities. Being a small country, Nepal is suffering more from India in the negative consequences of the unregulated movement of population across the open border.”

Some frustrated citizens are also taking the matters to the court. Lawyer Santosh Basnet and journalist Pushpa Thapaliya have asked Nepal's Supreme Court to intervene [5].

“Meanwhile, lawyer Santosh Basnet and journalist Pushpa Thapaliya filed a public interest litigation in Nepal's Supreme Court, accusing the government of having failed to protect its citizens in the border areas.

The petitioners have asked the apex court to order the government to protect border villages from encroachment by India.

The Prime Minister's Office, council of ministers, home ministry and land reforms and management ministry have been named in the petition as having failed to execute their responsibilities.”

Nepali language blog MySansar [6]is spearheading efforts to mobilize Nepalese online to publicize the issue. They are calling for global day of action on June 15th, asking readers to send banners, posters to protest the alleged encroachment.

At Facebook, several groups are popping up to protest alleged encroachment by India, and there are some videos posted at YouTube on the issue. Here is a video on the border dispute from the Nepalese side.

While majority of these efforts by Nepalese are an honest effort, there are some groups at Facebook who are dangerously promoting hate and xenophobia against India. At Mysansar too, some posters sent by readers for the global day of action are racist and biased, administrators there have not taken down the offensive images.