Months after Madhesi’s and Tharu’s agitation in Nepal, borders were finally opened for India with trucks freely allowed to enter four months after the blockade began.
The local residents and traders in southern border of Nepal dismantled tents and roadblocks that were set up by the protesters at a key border crossing and allowed the trucks pass through.
More than 50 people have died in protests over a Constitution that allegedly ignored the concerns of the Madhesi population, which dominates the lower regions of the Himalayan country.
The agitation that began on September 20 was led by the minority Madhesi groups against Nepal’s government.
They alleged that the new constitution ignored their demands for a united homeland and have a greater say in the running of the country.
Since the blockade was set up, there has been a acute fuel shortage that has spurred smuggling along the porous border in the southern part of Nepal.
The blockade restricted the “Friendship Bridge” which links the Nepali town of Birgunj with Raxaul in India.
“Trucks are moving smoothly,” according to a Nepali police official, but he is also afraid that it might not continue to stay that way for long. The people in Birgunj and Raxaul, in Bihar, have cleared the tents that were pitched on the bridge by protesters allowing the entry of around 20 container trucks.
Since November 2015, the situation in the area has been tense as police at that time had forcibly removed protesters from the bridge, leading to clashes that also killed one Indian citizen.
Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Oli appeared increasingly isolated and thus faced severe criticism from India over the tough line taken by the authorities against the protestors.
Now, with the blockade lifted, it seems that the stand-off is easing and there might soon be a better solution to tackle the situation that brought diplomatic relations between Nepal and India to a historic low.
Nepal’s finance minister Bishnu Poudel too is due to visit India this weekend and this might smooth the path for Nepal PM Oli’s visit.
NDTV Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli
Oli in the past had said that he would only visit India after the blockade on Indo-Nepal border was lifted. He at that time had blamed India for the situation.
The Indian Government has refuted allegations that it “interfered” with the internal matter of Kathmandu.