PM Oli urges agitators to stop protests, asks India to lift 'inhumane' blockade to end humanitarian crisis

KATHMANDU:  Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli addressed the nation on Sunday evening, calling on agitating Madhes-based parties to end protests and neighbour India to lift the 'unofficial blockade'.

Beginning his address, the Prime Minister reiterated that the Constitution has provided rights to all people of the nation.

He said Nepal's new Constitution was excellent in terms of process it was drafted and its content.

Criticisms that the national charter was discriminatory existed because of either failing to study the Constitution rightly or deliberate misinterpretations, he added.

Urging the agitating Madhes-based parties to end the protests, he assured that the Constitution could be amended in consultation with them and the demarcation of border boundaries could be reviewed accordingly.

He, meanwhile, said the unofficial blockade imposed by India was unimaginable in the 21st century.

"It is not an imaginable thing that a sovereign nation faces such an inhumane situation of pain, misery and blockade in the 21st century while promulgating a Constitution with progressive, pro-people and democratic contents through a people-elected Constituent Assembly with people's broad participation and democratic means."

Explaining that the blockade created a humanitarian crisis in the nation, he also accused the southern neighbour of obstructing supplies of life-saving medicines and fuels.

"The crisis which is not appropriate for even a war has surfaced. Such behaviours with the nation, which has sustained the pain of destruction from the earthquake, must be sad and inhumane for anyone having humane sympathy."

He accused India of violating the United Nations Charter, the principles of the Panchasheel, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Charter and transport rights of a landlocked country as provided by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, by obstructing supplies.

Likewise, the Indian Oil Corporation violated general rules of trade by not dispatching goods, for which Nepal had already paid, Oli said.

Explaining that the recent developments have soured centuries-long ties between the two nations, he said the government was working to mend the relation back to the harmonious status and asked India to cooperate from their side.

The border blockade has left the most adverse effects on survivors of the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks for they faced scarcity of construction materials needed for reconstruction, he added.

Maintaining that issues of the Tarai-Madhes region are concerns of all, he assured that the government would appropriately address them.

The obstruction has caused a huge loss to the national economy, Oli said, reminding it was greater than the damages caused by the earthquake.

Likewise, the recent situation has spoiled the economic partnership between India and Nepal including the positive environment created after signing of the Power Trade Agreement and the Project Development Agreements of Upper Karnali and Arun III hydropower projects last year, according to Oli.

"We want to maintain our relationship with all friendly nations including India and China on the basis of the United Nations Charter and the principles of Panchasheel, in consideration to mutual equality and interests," Oli said, "Nepal does not have hostility and hatred against any country."

He also told the Madhes-based parties that their ongoing agitation has also made life in Tarai more difficult.

"I draw attention of all concerned to complexities likely to be created while inviting involvement of external sides in internal issues and differences; and the price one has to pay for it," he warned.

Oli said the government has now realised it was Nepal's weakness to depend on India only for supplies of essentials.

Now, the government would work to diversify the international trade and promote renewable alternative energies, he said.

Oli, in his written 43-minute speech, also described some ambitious plans to cope with major problems of the nation including the ongoing energy crisis and devastation caused by the April 25 earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks.

The government would lead the reconstruction drive while it expected generous contribution and support from foreign donors, the Prime Minister added.

He urged all to cooperate with the government in the reconstruction campaign.