Nepal: Shifting borders and Maoist’s changing politics

Nepal: Shifting borders and Maoist’s changing politics


Buddhi Narayan Shrestha

Former DG, Survey Department/ Border expert, Nepal



Top leaders of the United Communist Party of Nepal (UCPN)-Maoist, including Prachanda, Babu Ram, Mohan Kiran, Narayan Kaji, Ram Bahadur Badal and others inspected Nepal-India border areas on 11 January 2010 to solve the border problems and to create awareness for national integrity and sovereignty, keeping good relations with India. They inspected the encroached Nepali land with a crowd and chanted slogans against Indian infringement.

The leaders made speeches in some pocket areas where there were border disputes, disagreements, claims and counter-claims. Maoist Chairman Prachanda said ‘We want relations with India on equal terms. We don’t eye even an inch of Indian Territory nor will we concede and inch of ours. The struggle for national sovereignty will go on till the very last moment, until the encroached land is returned. Maoist Second Vice-Chairman Mohan Baidya Kiran said that an endeavor to protect Nepali territory should not be taken as a war against India. One should not irritate its small neighbor by encroaching on the ground.

In the same way, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, First Vice-Chairman made a remark that all the treaties and agreements that Nepal and India have inked so far should be based on equality and those unequal treaties and agreements need to be abrogated right away. He alleged that the Indian side has encroached upon 1,400 hectares of land in Susta.

We will continue both political and diplomatic efforts to return the encroached land. Similarly, Maoist third Vice-Chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha expressed that India has blown upon the sovereignty of Nepal constructing Laxmanpur barrage along the border, against international norms and practices.

These are some of the expressions of the top brass of Maoist political party of Nepal. During these days, this party has led the government and right now Dr. Baburam Bhattarai is the Prime Minister and Narayan Kaji Shrestha is the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs. But they have never put the agenda to talk on the border issues with the neighboring country India.

This is the nature of political parties of Nepal that whenever they are in opposition bench in the parliament, they roar and draw attention of the people that Nepal’s southern neighbor has encroached Nepal’s territory. But when they form the government and get into power to rule the country, they use to keep their lips tight. They never spell that Nepal’s border has been encroached. This is a kind of irony of the political parties of Nepal.

We have to bear in mind that boundaries are related to the national integrity and sovereignty of a country. If the border has been encroached, that should be taken as a national issue whether the leaders are in power or out of power. On the other hand, if the border has not been violated, that should never be raised as an issue, whether the leaders are in administrative power or not. One could draw a conclusion that the political leaders have taken the border issue as an agenda of politics and identity for their parties, but not for the national issue. This is the mysterious and opportunistic behavior of the political parties.

 Joint mechanism:

The district level authorities including the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Nepal and District Magistrate (DM) of India have a joint mechanism to discuss the problems and come into action to maintain the border intact. They use to lead their team time to time having joint meeting at the border area. They used to inspect border area and no-man’s land physically and record where the pillars are missing and no-man’s land have been encroached. They exchange information on cross-border activities concerning security, crime, infiltration of unwanted elements and discuss on how to solve grievances of the frontier people.

So far as the centre level committee is concerned, Nepal-India Technical Level Joint Boundary Committee worked for 26 years and it was dissolved on 31 December 2007 without solving major border issues. But in connection to resolve the main problems, the matter has been raised time to time during the visit of high ranking dignitaries. During the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to Kathmandu on 15 January 2010, Nepal voiced its concern over border issues and encroachment of Nepali territory. In relation to this issue, Nepal and India reached an understanding jointly to resolve border disputes and the controversy over alleged encroachment of Nepali soil through mutual understanding at the political level.

In the same way, visiting Indian External Minister Pranab Mukherjee then told reporters in Kathmandu on 25 November 2008 that ‘We have agreed to resolve the long standing border disputes between the two countries at various places, including Kalapani and Susta through further discussions. Differences and divergence of view within the spectra of disputed areas are to be resolved and officers from both the sides will be asked to meet and resolve this issue soon.’ But the joint mechanism has not been formulated to solve this issue either in the technical or diplomatic or political level.

Cross-border governance:

Cross-border governance is essentially understood in relation to a context of ‘de-bordering.’ The dynamics of de-bordering give way to the alternative logic or fact of ‘re-bordering.’ However, the nature of cross-border relations on the basis of mutual understanding which are open is more useful to think of the border as an ambivalent object which can be at once open to others. The issue may affect the governance of cross-border regions, to the extent to which the functional changes of borders bring into play divergent interests which operate at different scales and in various temporalities. Such an examination also involves questioning the changing reality of borders by paying particular attention to practices of ‘borderisation’ and to their underlying logic.

The spatial re-composition affects social, economic and political relations within the cross-border regions whether in terms of territorial integrity or through the articulation of different geographical scales. Despite the fact, networks of actors play a determining role within the development of a multitude of cross-border institutional arrangements; work will be done within the relational approach which seeks a re-conceptualisation of the region as structured by a variety of flows and relations. In view of this, the question is not whether the territorial approach should be replaced by a relational approach, but rather how they can be combined in a way which goes beyond the inherent limits of uni-dimensional approaches.

The emergence of cross-border regions is favourable to such an enterprise: at the first step, there should not have absence of a well-defined territory. The multiplicity of actors from grass-root level to central level involved in the decision-making process favour a governance approach based on a system of negotiable political arrangements. Next, the presence of a national border cannot be relegated to the level of a simple remnant of a past territorial order as even when open it remains a significant limit in terms of State territoriality. Ultimately, it is because the processes of de-bordering/re-bordering bring into play different specialities of the border that a critical re-examination of our conceptual approaches is required.

Concluding remarks:

There is a less probability of shifting the northern border of Nepal with China, as the Himalayan Range has been demarcated as the boundary between two countries. The border has been supported by the natural environment. However, the demarcation business of 1961-62 must be appreciated. Regarding the mis-location of pillar number 57 on Nepal-China border line, this issue should be resolved by higher authorities through diplomatic channels, since it is already forwarded from the technical level. It may not be any problem because there is a very good relationship, friendship, and mutual understanding between Nepal and China in all spheres of activities. With the perspective of mutual understanding, this type of minor border issue should be resolved in an amicable manner. On the background of friendship, the Fourth Boundary Protocol should be signed as soon as possible, sorting out the debatable items in due course.

So far as the southern border of Nepal with India is concerned, there is no such natural environment as physically demarcated. So it is accessible for cross-holding occupations of agricultural land of same topography and a single settlement bisected on both the frontiers. If there is something else in such environment, issues should be settled in accordance with the historic maps and documents. It should have been adopted cross-disciplinary approach that consists of new and innovative ways to solve the issues. On top of that, there should have homogenous views into the dynamic relationship between state and society.

There must have a central and district level joint technical committee (JTC) to resolve the outstanding issues. The central level committee should discuss and take a joint decision on the major disagreed issues and that should be presented to the respective governments for final approval. District level committee should work jointly to supervise and maintain the border not to let the cross-holding occupation by the local people. Such mechanism will be helpful to resist shifting of the border between Nepal and India.

As a matter of fact, nothing will disrupt the people-to-people relationship between Nepal and India. They have close cultural ties since centuries and centuries. This kind of connectivity should not be strained by one political party’s action. It would be against the interests of people on both sides, if some element tries to sour the relations between them. It must jointly resist such moves from the people level convincing each other. One cannot strengthen its nationality by humiliating another country. So the government and people of both the frontiers must respect each other in a sense of brotherhood, friendship and good neighborliness in the field of border issues as well.

                                                                      Telegraph Weekly, 13 February 2013 

Nepal Exercising Partyocracy

Nepal exercising partyocracy:

Prof Johan Galtung

Prof. Galtung

KATHMANDU: Visiting Norwegian Professor Johan Galtung said no substantial change except ‘partyocracy’ had been achieved after UCPN-Maoist joined mainstream politics.

Also known as the father of peace studies‚ Professor Galtung is in Kathmandu to take stock on changes since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in November 2006‚ which brought the former insurgents to the capital from the jungle.

“One state‚ two armies‚ monarchy and direct autocracy are nowhere in sight‚” he said in an interview with The Himalayan Times. “But‚ things are still the same. No constitution in sight‚ there is no parliament‚ no elected government‚ no body to deal with the reconciliation process and no reduction in state of inequality. There is no democracy‚ only partyocracy‚ (a political malady where a handful of parties threaten the institutions of parliamentary democracy)‚” he said.

Although disagreement on federalism based on ethnicity and identity was glaringly evident just before the dissolution of the CA‚ Galtung said identity-based federalism would be better for Nepal. He‚ however‚ said out of 25 federal countries‚ only four‚ namely India‚ Malaysia‚ Belgium and Switzerland have demarked provinces on the basis of identity. “An alternative model useful for Nepal would be a combination of Malaysian and Indian federalism‚” he continued. “I don’t think you should go to western countries‚ may be the United States for the idea.”

Though the Interim Constitution declared Nepal a federal republic‚ he said‚ Nepal is still not a federal country due to partyocracy. He said Nepali parties are quite good in the blame-game every time they fail.

On dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and failure to adopt a constitution‚ Galtung said it was a ploy of ‘Kathmandu’ against the rest of society.

He said Nepal is a highly centralised country and Kathmandu is at the top. According to him‚ Kathmandu is not only the Capital but also a mind-set that ignores others. The dissolution of the Assembly was again a Kathmandu-game. Kings‚ Ranas‚ feudal lords all played this game‚ and now the parties are playing it. “They mainly agree on one thing — exploit the people‚” he stated.

Referring to the situation as a cancerous disease‚ he warned that if immediate therapy was not done‚ the prognosis would be the beginning of “new kind of violence”. “If you want to do therapy‚ you need to lift the bottom two-third people up‚” said Galtung‚ who has experience of conflict mediation in as many as 150 countries.

According to the professor‚ much could have been achieved and easily in this regard in the context of 2006‚ when the situation was flexible. Maoist insurgency was against the Kathmandu-game in principle‚ but the idea has been pushed to the back burner since Maoists joined the Kathmandu-game.

“No political party‚ organisation or government has connected with the grass-root people‚” he said. He said a handful of political parties could not decide on federal states‚ the issue should be given to the people to decide. “A referendum can be a method‚” he suggested‚ saying. “[But] I cannot impose‚ only propose.”

The professor said the best way to mediate in conflict is through creativity‚ but this is grossly lacking among Nepali leaders. “Creativity could be learned from the experience of others as well.”

In the course of his visit‚ Galtung will call on the President‚ top government officials‚ party leaders‚ civil society representatives and professional bodies.

He challenged the ruling UCPN-Maoist to fulfil even a single point of its 40-point demand submitted to the government before launching “People’s War” in February 1996. “My only suggestion to them is don’t try to change Nepal as a whole‚ just try to focus on the local community.”

On a different note‚ he said the idea of appointing incumbent Chief Justice‚ as new Prime Minister was a “move towards technocracy”‚ where the government does not have direct people’s mandate. “It’s a reaction to partyocracy‚” he said.

The Himalayan Times Daily, February 15, 2013

Challenges of Border Security



                                 सीमासुरक्षाका चुनौती


माघ २२ –
नेपाल-भारत सीमा सुरक्षाको सवाल फेरि जोडपूर्वक उठेको छ- पछिल्ला साताका केही गम्भीर अन्तरदेशीय आपराधिक घटनासँगै । विराटनगरका उद्योगपति गंगाविसन राठीको सिलिगुडीमा अपहरणपछि हत्या, वीरगन्जका ८ वषर्ीय बालकको अपहरण गरी भारत पुर्‍याइएको जस्ता घटनाबाट मुलुकको सीमा सुरक्षालाई अपराध जगत्ले दह्रो चुनौती दिन थालेको आभास हुन्छ । राज्यको कमजोर उपस्थिति रहेको खुला सीमा आसपासका क्षेत्र निरपेक्ष रूपमा अपराधविहीन र समस्यामुक्त हुन नसक्ला । त्यही कमजोरीका आधारमा जंगली जनावरले घर आँगनबाट चल्ला टिपेझैं अपराधीहरूले सोझासिधा व्यक्ति उठाउने, आपराधिक हर्कत गर्ने र त्यसबाटै कमाउ धन्दा चलाउने प्रवृत्ति दुई सार्वभौम राज्यका आमनेसामने भूभागमा बढिरहेका छन् ।

मुलुक ऐतिहासिक संक्रमणमा छ । यस्तो अवस्थामा आमजनमानसलाई  सुरक्षाको पूर्ण प्रत्याभूति दिनु राज्यको पहिलो प्राथमिकता हुनुपर्ने हो । तर, सीमा क्षेत्र पर्ने तराईका जिल्लामा राज्यको भरलाग्दो सुरक्षा पहुँच छैन ।  सीमा सुरक्षामा नेपाल प्रहरी, सशस्त्र प्रहरी, राष्ट्रिय अनुसन्धान विभागलगायत निकायलाई एकीकृत र सुदृढ रूपमा खटाएर अनुभूति हुने किसिमको सुरक्षा अवस्था सिर्जना गर्न गृह प्रशासन सक्षम देखिएको छैन । दलहरूका लागि गृह प्रशासन राज्य संयन्त्रको मुख्य धमनी नभएर राजनीतिक र आर्थिक फाइदा उठाउने सबैभन्दा आकर्षक थलो बन्ने गरेको छ । शासक र दलीय नेताहरू सुरक्षाकर्मीलाई कता सरुवा गरेर, कुन गुण्डालाई कता लुकाएर कति लाभ हुन्छ भन्ने लेखाजोखाबाट माथि उठ्न सकेका छैनन् । यस्तो राजनीतिक हस्तक्षेपबाट थिलथिलिएको कर्मचारीतन्त्र पनि अपवादमा मात्र आफ्नो कामप्रति निष्ठावान हुने स्थिति छ ।

सीमा सुरक्षालाई दुई देशले विपरीत दिशाबाट हुने आवत-जावत र द्विपक्षीय आर्थिक एवं सामाजिक व्यवहार नियमन गर्ने पद्धतिका रूपमा मात्र बुझिनु हुन्न । सीमासुरक्षासँग अन्योन्याश्रति हुन्छ त्यहाँको जनजीवन । अन्य क्षेत्रमा भन्दा सीमामा जनजीवन बढी संवेदनशील हुन्छ । संसारकै सर्वश्रेष्ठ धनी मुलुक अमेरिकामा पनि आफ्नै खाले सीमासुरक्षा र जनजीवनका मुद्दाहरू छन् । फरक यत्ति हो, समृद्ध राज्यहरूले ती मुद्दालाई सुदृढतापूर्वक सम्बोधन गरेर काबुमा राखेका हुन्छन् । नेपालजस्तो मुलुकका लागि भने यो विषयले बारबार बल्भिmरहने पिलोको काम गर्दै आएको पाइन्छ । राजनीतिक द्वन्द्व थपिएको अवस्थामा त सीमासुरक्षा झनै बिथोलिने गर्छ । दस वर्ष लामो माओवादी विद्रोह, केही वर्षअघिको मधेस आन्दोलनको परिप्रेक्ष अझै हाम्रो स्मरणमा ताजै छ । ती दुवै परिघटनाको पृष्ठभूमिमा जन्मिएका आपराधिक सशस्त्र समूहहरूले केही वर्षयता दक्षिणी भूभागलाई नारकीय अवस्थामा नै पुर्‍याए ।

सशस्त्र समूहहरूको उल्लेख्य पतनसँगै तुलनात्मक रूपमा शान्त रहेको भनिएको सीमावर्ती तराई क्षेत्र पछिल्ला जघन्य आपराधिक घटनासँगै झस्केको छ । पेशेवर अपराधीका गतिविधि बढेका छन् । हुन त तिनै पेशेवरहरू हिजो सशस्त्र समूहका नाममा सक्रिय थिए । अर्को रूप धारण गरेर फेरि ब्युँतिएका छन् । किनकि, अपराधीका अनेक रूप हुन्छन् । त्यसैले तिनीहरूलाई निस्तेज गर्न र अपराधीकरणको माखेसाङ्लोमा जकडिँंदै आएको सीमालाई सुरक्षित तुल्याउन दुवै देशको बराबर भूमिका र गम्भीरता आवश्यक छ । दुवै पक्षमा जिल्लातहको मात्र भर पर्दा सीमासुरक्षा प्रभावकारी र मजबुत हुन सकेको देखिँदैन । बरु सीमा क्षेत्रका यस्तै जटिलताका कारण द्विपक्षीय सम्बन्ध बेलाबेला तिक्ततापूर्णसमेत हुने गर्छ । अबको उपचार भनेको स्पष्ट द्विपक्षीय समझदारी र फौजदारी कानुनी सहायतासम्बन्धी व्यवस्था हो । यो राजनीतिक र कूटनीतिक प्रयासबाट सम्भव हुन्छ । कार्यान्वयनमा चाहिँ सुरक्षा जनशक्तिको इमान्दार पहल जरुरी पर्छ । त्यसका लागि सीमा क्षेत्र उत्कृष्ट र व्यावसायिक अधिकृतहरूको पहिलो रोजाइ बन्नुपर्छ । साथै  जनतालाई  सीमासुरक्षा र यसका संवेदनशीलताबारे सचेत गराउनु जरुरी छ । महत्त्वपूर्ण आवत-जावतका विषयमा सुरक्षा निकायलाई जानकारी दिने, आवश्यक परे सहयोग लिने व्यवस्था मिलाइदिनुपर्छ । अनि, मात्र सीमा क्षेत्रमा अपराध घट्नेछन् ।

Kantipur Daily, Published on February 5, 2013.  प्रकाशित मिति: २०६९ माघ २३ ०९:२०

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