Nepal Maoists begin anti-India campaign

Ahead of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s first official visit to Nepal, former Maoist guerrillas Monday kicked off an anti-India campaign, accusing the southern neighbour of grabbing Nepal’s territory.

Maoist chief and former prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda led a protest rally in Kanchanpur district in far-west Nepal where the Maoists are condemning the Tanakpur barrage built on the Mahakali river by India, saying it gives undue irrigation facilities to the Indian side.

Prachanda said his party would spearhead a new campaign to save Nepal’s sovereignty since the current coalition government of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was being “manipulated by foreign powers”.

Prachanda’s deputy and former finance minister Baburam Bhattarai is leading a similar rally in Nawalparasi district in western Nepal where, according to Nepalis, Indians have encroached on a village called Susta.

A third Maoist stalwart, Mohan Vaidya Kiran, is leading a protest in Pashupatinagar in eastern Nepal’s Ilam district.

The campaign against “Indian encroachment” will continue Tuesday with former Maoist defence minister Ram Bahadur Thapa Badal and senior leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha taking out rallies in two other areas under dispute.

India and Nepal share an 1,800 km open border and there are boundary disputes in almost 50 places.

The worst is in Kalapani, an area on the border of India, China and Nepal in Nepal’s Darchula district.

Indian soldiers built a camp there in 1962 after China attacked India, and remain there.

Prachanda was earlier scheduled to lead a protest march in Kalapani but the programme was changed.

The new Maoist protests targeting India come ahead of Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s three-day visit to Nepal starting Jan 15.

The Maoists have said that on Jan 14, they would torch copies of “unequal” pacts signed with India, including the 1950 Indo-Nepal Peace and Friendship Treaty.

On Jan 19, the day Indian Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor is scheduled to begin his Nepal visit, the Maoists have announced they would hold protests in front of Singha Durbar, the complex where the office of the prime minister and other key ministries are located, and the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu.

–Indo-Asian News Service

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