Gangtok: The annual Sino-India border trade at Nathu La, which was to be reopened today, has been postponed following Commerce ministry’s communique to the Sikkim government, official sources said here.
“We have received a fax message from the Union Commerce ministry late last evening informing about the postponement of the re-opening of the border trade at Nathu La,” the District Collector (East) Vishal Chauhan told PTI here.
The district administration would continue with the processing of the applications of the Indian traders for issuance of the travel and security passes in order to enable them to take part in the border trade this year, Chauhan said.
Meanwhile the Chinese authorities have cited the occurrence of landslides in several areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) disrupting the movement of people and goods as the reason behind postponement of the annual border trade, official sources said here.
The traders from the TAR might find it difficult to visit the trade mart at Sherathang near Nathu La and so would be the case with the Indian traders going to trade marts at Renquingang and Donquingang due to landslides, they said.
However, according to political analysts the main reason behind postponement of the annual border trade is China’s apprehension against mainly Tibetans, who comprise majority of traders at the annual event.
In spite of the state government’s optimism that the border trade would commence on schedule, the annual event was a non-starter this year due to the ‘pro-independence´ movement in TAR recently, which was supported by the Tibetan exiles in India, they said.
A large number of Tibetans from the north-eastern states had marched upto Rangpo on Sikkim-West Bengal border to take out a peace march upto Nathu La border in support of the Tibetan ‘freedom fighters´.
The annual border trade has been tentatively re-scheduled to commence from May 19 next.