India Concerned by Violence in Nepal & Supports an Inclusive Constitution

September 14, 2015 – The Government of India has made a public statement today regarding the horrific violence in Nepal amid constitution drafting process. The Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made it clear about India’s desire to see an end to human rights violations and drafting of an inclusive constitution in Nepal.

Many ultra-nationalists in Nepal may see this statement as interventionist in Nepal’s internal affairs. However, India has reiterated and demonstrated its commitment “to support peace, stability, unity and development of Nepal.” The statement states,

Whether the crisis is political or natural, Government of India has always desired prosperity and well-being of Nepal, and considers itself duty-bound to stand by Nepal in any adversity.

After the devastating earthquake in Nepal this April, India pledged a support of astonishing $1 billion USD, more than double than that offered by China’s $483 million USD. More importantly, it was the first foreign country to respond to the crisis and offer logistical and personnel support via its mighty Air Force to transport relief materials to affected remote areas in Nepal. India stood by Nepal in a tragic natural disaster.

As Nepal’s closest neighbor and the largest trading partner, India takes interest in Nepal’s political affairs. India was the chief mediator between the Maoists and major political parties to end a decade long insurgency and usher long-lasting peace in Nepal. India is also the largest donor of foreign and military aid to Nepal. India is among the largest supplier of military and small weapons to Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepal Army. Therefore, it has a moral responsibility to interfere when human rights organizations report about horrific human rights violations in Nepal, see our posts on Human Rights.

When King Gyanendra turned rogue and suppressed democratic aspirations of Nepali people, India stopped its military aid to Nepal which was one of the primary reasons why Gyanendra was forced to give up power in favor of democracy. India “interfered” to curb further escalation of human rights violation and deaths of Nepali civilians. A Wikipedia article states,

India imposed an embargo [on military aid] in February 2005 following the seizure of power by the then King Gyanendra. Even before this, India has been providing Nepal with military weapons free of cost.

Since India played a pivotal role in ending the autocratic rule by King Gyanendra and ushering democracy, the marginalized groups in Terai of Nepal are looking up to India again to end human rights violations and oppression of peaceful protests by the state of Nepal. Since the weapons supplied by India are being used by Nepal Police and Armed Police Force to indiscriminately kill unarmed civilians in Terai, it can be argued that India is indirectly complicit in human rights violations unless it makes an effort to stop it.

Interestingly, this press release was issued by Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, just a day after a Nepali journalist Prashant Jha wrote an influential article in an Indian newspaper. The article in Hindustan Times, “Why India must speak up strongly on Nepal” by Prashant Jha is worth reading.  There are many striking parallels between the popular uprising to overthrow King Gyanendra and a popular uprising in Terai to seek an inclusive constitution. Paul Rouletege, a foreign scholar wrote in a journal Urban Studies,

For 19 days in April 2006, Nepal witnessed a popular uprising against the royal-military coup staged by King Gyanendra in February 2005. The Jana Andolan II (People’s Movement II) demanded a return to democracy, the establishment of a lasting peace in Nepal and more political and economic inclusion for the various ethnic and caste groups historically marginalised in Nepali society.

During 19 days of protests in 2006, 19 people were killed under the orders of King Gyanendra. The protests in Terai this year has claimed lives of more than 40 people which includes some policemen and mostly civilians. The agitating parties seek an inclusive constitution that guarantees equal rights for marginalized groups in Nepal. The protests in Terai which started peacefully has been suppressed by the Nepali state which made the protesters angry. This anger and frustration turned the once peaceful protests violent. The protesters and security personnel have engaged in violence to mercilessly attack one another.  Human rights organizations have been alarmed at these violations and published several reports, see our post, “Reports on Human Rights Violations in Nepal“.

A strong statement by India about its desire to see an end to human rights violations and drafting of an inclusive constitution sends a strong message to the ruling parties who are in the process of drafting a new constitution and claim it be democratic and inclusive. A tweet by Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala claiming the constitution to be inclusive appears humorous and sarcastic given the disapproval from women, Madhesis, Tharus and other marginalized groups in Nepal who collectively make up for more than 50% of the population.

The statement by Indian Minister of External Affairs can be read on Government of India page or below:

Statement by External Affairs Minister

September 14, 2015

Unofficial translation

India has always supported peace, stability, unity and development of Nepal. In the last two decades, we all have witnessed violence, instability, internal struggle and political discord in Nepal, as well as its negative consequences. Nepal had not yet emerged from this crisis, when a major earthquake in April 2015 wreaked havoc and caused major destruction in the country.

Whether the crisis is political or natural, Government of India has always desired prosperity and well-being of Nepal, and considers itself duty-bound to stand by Nepal in any adversity.

For the last few months, the political leadership of Nepal has been intensively engaged in the critically important task of Constitution drafting, through mutual consultations and dialogue.

Encouraging voices were heard from Nepalese leaders from afar that the Constitution will carry along all regions and sections, and will become the focal point of a progressive, modern and united Nepal. Coming from all the political leaders, these voices make all of us in India very happy.

The Nepalese political leadership has shown wisdom and maturity in overcoming several challenges over the last few years, resulting in substantial gains in the peace process and consolidation of inclusive multi-party Constitutional democracy through two successful elections. We laud the achievements that Nepal has made in the peace process.

We welcome and commend the recent progress achieved by the Constituent Assembly in the Constitution-drafting process wherein several contentious issues have been resolved.

India is concerned over the ongoing protests and strife in several parts of Nepal. Horrific violence has once again shaken Nepal’s soul.

Whether the victims are Nepali citizens or government officials, the blood spilt in all the incidents was Nepalese.

When Nepal is yet to come out of the tragedy of the earthquake, these developments would hurt any humanitarian country in the world.

In this context, we urge continuing flexibility on the part of all the political forces so that any outstanding issues are addressed through dialogue and widest possible agreement, in an atmosphere free from violence. A Constitution, which is fully owned by and accommodates the aspirations of all regions and sections of the Nepalese society, will lay a durable foundation for a peaceful and prosperous Nepal and will become the focal point for Nepal’s bright future.

Nepal’s political parties, organizations and intellectuals have always displayed maturity and foresight in times of crises. It is only with their continued leadership and wisdom that Nepal can overcome its current difficulties.

A durable and resilient Constitution is necessary to build a modern Nepal. We hope that Nepal’s leaders will leave no stone unturned in their efforts.

Government of India is committed to further strengthening its close and cordial relations with the Government and people of Nepal and will continue to provide all support and assistance, in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Nepal for peace, stability and socio-economic development.


14 September 2015

Puru Shah

Puru Shah is the founder of Madhesi Youth. For Madhesi Youth, he primarily writes about human rights issues and articles with an emphasis on data analysis & data visualization. His goal is to promote justice, equality, sustainable development, and youth empowerment in Nepal. Connect with Puru Shah on Twitter (@digitalsubway)