India slams Nepalese deputy PM’s remarks over Terai plains

New Delhi says protests by three groups have resulted in the blockade of a key transit point between India and Nepal

New Delhi: The Indian embassy in Nepal on Sunday slammed remarks by Nepalese deputy prime minister C.P. Mainali accusing India of trying to annex the country’s Terai plains adjoining Bihar.

Tensions between the two countries have been high after Nepal adopted a new constitution in September that India feels does not give equal priviledges to sections of Nepal’s 27 million people -- the Madhesis, Janjatis and Tharus.

India says protests by the three groups have resulted in the blockade of a key transit point that supplies fuel to Nepal, while Nepal is of the view that it is India that has imposed the blockade to pressure the Kathmandu administration to introduce changes in the constitution.

Mainali told reporters on Saturday that the blockade of the key Raxaul-Birganj border trade point by the Madhesis, who have ethnic and cultural links with Bihar, was part of an Indian conspiracy to annex the Terai region by cutting it off from the rest of the country.

“The embassy strongly condemns such baseless and malicious comments, which divert attention from the real issues facing the country and vitiate the age-old historical, familial and civilizational ties between India and Nepal... The embassy reiterates that India’s only objective is peace, stability and prosperity in Nepal. India hopes that internal issues facing the country will be resolved through political dialogue and reconciliation. India will support all efforts in this regard," a statement posted on the Indian embassy’s website said.