Nepal’s Madhesis call off India-Nepal border blockade

Nepal’s agitated Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) called off their nearly five-month long blockade at Indo-Nepal border. The end of the protest brings about relief to the country suffering from shortages of fuels, medicines and other supplies.

A statement issued after the meeting of United Democratic Madhesi Front leaders said that considering the current crisis facing the nation and the public necessity and aspirations, the ongoing protest programmes of general strike, border blockade, government office shutdown have been called off for now. The statement also said that the agitation shall continue till the demands are addressed.

This announcement comes ahead of Prime Minister KP Oli’s Indian trip, that is scheduled on February 19, which is the first overseas visit of the new Nepalese premier.

Based in the Tarai lowlands, the Madhesi Front launched the protest in September to force Nepal’s major political parties to make amends in the new charter and give them a greater role in the power structure thus bringing about a new Constitution.

The main border point at Birgunj has seen trucks move about for the first time in more than four months on Friday after the protesters were chased away. It was opened briefly, but it was closed again. Except the border point Birgunj, trade has resumed at all other posts.

To see to it that the Madhesis participate in the parliament, Nepal made changes to the constitution. But the community leaders state that the amendments still fail to address their central fear of division of their ancestral homeland under the seven-province structure.

Sources: Reuters, DNA