India monitoring Nepal situation 'very closely'

New Delhi


India is monitoring the situation in Nepal "very closely" after two amendments were proposed on December 15 to the new constitution adopted in September that sparked violent protests in the Himalayan nation.

"The two amendments concern two of the important outstanding issues between the Nepalese government and the agitators -- that is constituency delimitation and proportional inclusion," external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing on Thursday.

"We encourage and urge all sides to remain closely engaged and move forward in a spirit of reconciliation so that political issues facing Nepal are addressed durably and we are monitoring the developments very closely," he said.

Madhesi agitators on Wednesday attacked the motorcade of Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and hurled a petrol bomb at a well-known temple she visited in Janakpur, 120 km from Kathmandu. They also stoned her motorcade and targeted her vehicle. But the Nepal Army, responsible for her security, quickly shifted her to a safer place.

Over 50 people have lost their lives in the four-month-long violent protests after the adoption of the new constitution with agitating Madhesi political parties and ethnic groups of the Nepal Terai demanding amendments in the statute which they deem discriminatory and ignoring their rights.

A new bill introduced in the Nepalese parliament on December 15, which aims to amend the constitution, ensures constitutional guarantee of inclusive proportional representation of various ethnic minorities in various state entities apart from the Nepal Army and redrawing the electoral constituencies based on population.

However, the Madhesi parties opposed the move, saying they had not been consulted before tabling the bill.

The southern plains comprise over 50 percent of the population of Nepal and if this bill is passed, the plains will have majority representation in parliament after the next general election.

Due to the ongoing agitation, thousands of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles have not been able to enter Nepal from India since the last four months. As a result, Nepal is facing serious shortage of essential supplies like food, medicines, fuel and other items. - IANS