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Protesters ask India for ‘Nepal’s Independence’

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 16, 2009

KATHMANDU: As India celebrated its 63rd Independence Day on Saturday, the demand for a “Greater Nepal”
erupted afresh with protesters asking New Delhi to release annexed Nepali territory as well.

“On Aug 15, 1947, India became independent of British rule,” said Phanindra Nepal, a 58-year-old Nepali professor whose United Nepal National Front has begun a dogged – and difficult – campaign to recover from India the Nepali land that was added to it during an Anglo-Nepali treaty signed in 1816. “So the Nepali land annexed by the British and added to India should also be released.”

For an hour, over 100 people demonstrated in front of the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, demanding the return of nearly 58,000 sq km of land which the Front says belongs to Nepal but now lies in India. In 1816 the rulers of Nepal signed the now infamous Sugauli Treaty with the British East India Company after a protracted war to avid defeat. However, it was a penalising treaty making Nepal forfeit almost a third of its territory that now is part of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Sikkim and Bihar.

After India became independent, it signed a Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1950 that promised to supersede all previous bilateral pacts and the Front says since the scrapped Sugauli Treaty’s provisions therefore are no longer valid, the ceded land should come back to Nepal.

“If the issue is not settled peacefully through bilateral talks, we will have to go to the UN,” said Nepal, who has in the past submitted a memorandum to the British Embassy, asking them, as one of the signatories, to take initiative in restoring ceded Nepali land.

Though the Indian authorities in Nepal launched a new magazine, Maitree, to project Indo-Nepal rapport, and the Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood Saturday gifted 20 ambulances and four buses to Nepali organisations as a goodwill gesture, the Himalayan republic’s wariness of its bigger neighbour is too deep-rooted to be erased.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who will begin his first official visit to India Tuesday, had to urge party workers and the public at a gathering Saturday not to harbour any fears about his trip, saying no anti-national treaty would be signed during it. Nepal’s national interests, the communist leader said, would guide all agreements with India.

Source:Times Of India


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