The South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), a regional level civil society network encompassing all eight countries of South Asia, welcomes the new constitution of Nepal promulgated on 20th September 2015 by an overwhelming majority (90% votes in favour) of Constituent Assembly members. Although we had witnessed several problems during the constitution making process that the Constituent Assembly of Nepal had encountered, we welcome the result that followed the democratic processes during the constitution drafting and finalisation process. In this context, we express our solidarity with the people of Nepal and the genuine demands of Tharu, Dalit, Women, Janatis and Madhesis, which we urge the government of Nepal, the political parties, and groups that are protesting to settle through peaceful dialogue and by incorporating amendments in the constitution as appropriate.
Nepal has gone through a painful political, socio-economic transition for a genuine change in its society for many years. The ‘Comprehensive Peace Accord, 2006’ which was held between the state and the then CPN (Maoist) had given a big hope for peace, stability and development in Nepal. We recall our solidarity we extended during Jana-aandolan II of Nepal in 2006. The newly promulgated constitution in Nepal has guaranteed a federal, inclusive, secular and republican state and ensured fundamental and human rights including the economic-social and cultural rights of the people.
Immediately after the promulgation of the constitution, Nepal’s southern neighbour- India imposed an unofficial trade and transport embargo. It ‘noted’ but did not welcome the adoption of a constitution by Nepal. This ‘Big-brother’ and interventionist attitude is highly objectionable and unwelcome. That too when the Nepalese government has agreed to consider the genuine issues being raised by the agitating political parties and social groups, and to democratically revise the constitution.
The undeclared blockade imposed by India on all goods at the Indo-Nepal border has led to severe difficulties for the common people of Nepal to go about their normal lives. This act of collective punishment is deplorable and it is totally against the concept of a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) 2004; and other agreements such as, Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship- 1950; Motor Vehicle Agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN)- 2015; Convention on Transit Trade of Land-locked States (1965) and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
We deplore the Government of India’s arm-twisting tactics and, we further demand that the Government of India to stop punishing the common people of Nepal and immediately withdraw the blockade and make a public commitment not to repeat such an action in the future. It is incumbent upon the Government of India to respect the sovereignty of Nepal and let the Nepali people and the Government of Nepal handle their internal issues amongst themselves and act to promote peace and harmony in the region instead of harassing its neighbours and interfering in their internal matters.