Kathmandu: A youth from Bihar was killed in police firing on Monday during a protest in Nepal close to the international border, leading Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express shock and condemn the “unfortunate killing” and speak to his Nepal counterpart K.P. Sharma Oli for seeking details about the incident.
Modi also called upon the leadership in the Himalayan nation to work towards “an early and effective solution to the crisis” over agitation by Madhesi parties concerning the country’s new constitution.
The Indian government also told Nepal that issues facing it were political in nature and cannot be resolved using force.It said there was no obstacle to supply of fuel and other essentials from the Indian side and noted that it was monitoring the situation carefully.
Police in Nepal on Monday shot dead Asish Kumar Ram, 24, during protests in the country’s Birgunj city close to the Indian border.
Tensions inflamed by anti-constitution sentiments flared anew on Monday with agitating activists of Madhes-based political parties clashing with police in Birgunj.
Ram, a resident of Bihar’s border town Raxaul, died after being caught in police firing near the Shankaracharya Gate, the main gateway to Nepal from India.
He sustained bullet injuries on the head and was declared dead at the Narayani Hospital. Its medical director Imamul Haq said Ram was dead even before reaching the hospital.
Police reportedly fired dozens of bullets and tear gas shells after being heavily pelted with stones by protesters near the Indian border. Many protesters were injured by rubber bullets fired by the security forces.
Hours after the death of the Indian man, Oli at a public function in Kathmandu criticised the Indian policy concerning Nepal, particularly after the promulgation of the new federal republican constitution on September 20.
Modi, in his talk with Oli, condemned the “unfortunate killing”.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Nepal PM K.P. Oli and has expressed shock and condemned the unfortunate killing of a youngster from Bihar due to police firing in Nepal. PM (Modi) has requested for details of the incident from Nepal,” said a release from the Prime Minister’s Office.
It said Modi urged the Nepalese leaders to work towards ensuring an early and effective solution to the crisis.
“On supply of fuel and other essentials, PM (Modi) assured that there is no obstacle from the Indian side,” the release said.
Nepal has meanwhile received 73.5 metric tonnes of petrol in the first batch from China.
India’s external affairs ministry had earlier in the day expressed deep concern over reports of firing in Birgunj and said the issues need to be addressed by the Nepal government credibly.
The ministry said Indian freight forwarders and transporters have voiced their worries again about the deteriorating situation across the border and advised them to exercise caution and not put themselves in danger.
“Issues facing Nepal are political in nature and cannot be resolved by force. Causes underlying the present state of confrontation need to addressed by the government of Nepal credibly and effectively.
“We are monitoring the situation carefully,” the ministry said.
Nepal’s new constitution has evoked strong resentment from the southern Nepali Terai region where the Madhesi political parties as also indigenous groups have launched a violent protest alleging that their interests have been again ignored.
Oli, in his speech, accused India of “propping up” the Madhes-based political parties to impose blockades at major customs points along the 1,751-km open border between the two neighbours.
“Why is India rallying behind the four Madhes-based parties,” he asked, adding that it was Nepal’s responsibility to address the grievances of the various agitating groups.
“The constitution is not targeted against any country,” he said, adding that it was promulgated with 96 percent of the Constituent Assembly members voting in its favour.
Following the death of the Indian national in Birgunj, the Madhesi political parties warned that they will not sit down for talks with the government in Kathmandu.
Nepal is reeling under severe and chronic shortage of fuel, essential commodities and medicines due to the border blockade.
It has accused India of imposing an unofficial blockade at the border while New Delhi maintains that transportation of essentials and other goods was hampered by the ongoing violent agitation within land-locked Nepal.
The agitating parties in a statement said talks with the government were unlikely to make any headway in the new emerging context.