Nepali killed by SSB

Diplomatic tension between Nepal and India

Published On: March 11, 2017 01:10 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, March 11: Nepal has protested against the killing of a Nepali national by Indian security personnel in the bordering Ananda Bazar in Kanchanpur district on Thursday.

While Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal protested against the incident in his telephone conversation with Indian Prime Minister's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) condemned the incident, demanding a probe into the matter and action against the guilty. 

Gobinda Gautam, 32, was killed when the Indian Seema Suraksha Bal (SSB) opened fire Thursday morning following a dispute over a culvert construction amid ongoing tensions at the border near Ananda Bazar. The incident has sparked anti-India protests in the bordering Kanchanpur district and other parts of the country, including the capital city Kathmandu.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prakash Sharan Mahat, talked to his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj over the phone on Friday morning and conveyed that Nepal government was saddened by the incident. Minister Mahat demanded that the Indian government investigate the incident and punish the guilty so that similar incidents do not repeat in the future. 

According to his press coordinator Yekraj Pathak, Minister Mahat also asked the Indian side to inform Nepal about the action taken against the guilty following the probe. Nepal has also urged the Indian side to be serious enough to avoid similar incidents in the future. 

Shortly after Minister Mahat talked to Swaraj over the phone, the MoFA summoned charge d'affaires at the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, Vinaya Kumar, and handed him a diplomatic note, protesting against the incident. In the diplomatic note handed to Kumar by Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, the government has asked the Indian side to punish those involved in the killing after investigating the incident and be serious enough not to repeat similar incidents in the future in the bordering areas.

Nepali Ambassador to India, Deep Kumar Upadhyaya in New Delhi separately handed the diplomatic note to the desk concerned at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday itself. According to officials, Ambassador Upahdyaya, while condemning the incident, drew the attention of the Indian side to be serious enough to avoid similar incidents in the bordering areas.

Although India on Thursday did not even accept the fact that Indian security personnel had opened fire killing Gautam, it softened its tone on Friday after Nepali authorities dismissed its refutation. The Indian side not only admitted indirectly that its security personnel were actually involved in the killing, but also assured that it would investigate the incident. 

In the second statement on the Kanchanpur incident issued on Friday, the MEA said that the SSB had initiated an enquiry into the death of a Nepali national in a firing incident at the Nepal-India border. "The government of Nepal is being requested through diplomatic channels to share post-mortem reports to facilitate the process," said the statement, which contradicted its previous statement on Thursday.   

Separately, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval personally called Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal over the telephone later in the day and informed him that the Indian side had already initiated a probe into what he described as 'an unfortunate incident'.

While expressing sorrow over the incident on behalf of Prime Minister Modi, Doval asked the Nepali prime minister to facilitate the investigation being carried out by the Indian side by sharing Gautam's postmortem and forensic report with them. 

During the telephone conversation, Doval urged the Nepali side to help maintain peace and order in the border areas, where hundreds of youths had taken to the streets on Friday. According to the Prime Minister's Office, PM Dahal said that the Kanchanpur incident was a very unfortunate incident.

The prime minister said that Nepal expects the Indian side to carry out a thorough investigation without any further delay and punish those involved in the incident.

Indian External Affairs Minister Swaraj later telephoned Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi as well and apprised him of the steps taken to address the demands put forth by the Nepali side. Addressing the parliament meeting, Nidhi informed the House about the diplomatic initiatives taken by Nepal and the steps taken by the Indian side to address Nepal's demands. 

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