Sat, 07 Dec, 2019

Birgunj- Raxaul Border Opens After 135 Days  

By Sweekriti Gautam

Photo Courtesy: sojho.com

Birgunj is the main entry point to Nepal for Indian tourists especially coming from Calcutta and Patna. Birgunj which is about 210 km away from Kathmandu is also an important entry for foreign goods in Nepal. 90% fuel and 70% of other goods are imported to Nepal through the Birgunj border.

Birgunj entry point at the Nepal- India border, which had remained closed for more than 135 days due to agitation of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, opened on February 5, 2016. The border resumed after 135 days after the Sayunkta  Loktantric  Madhesi Morcha began their protest on September 24 against the newly adopted constitution. The local entrepreneurs and residents forcefully opened the Birgunj- Raxaul border, allowing cargo trucks and vehicles to cross freely into Nepal from neighboring India. The locals from the India side opened the border after removing the tents and barriers fixed by the demonstrators. Although the demonstrators reached the border point to resume the protest, they failed due to the strong defiance of the local people.

The Nepalese government had to face the revenue loss of $479 million because of the blockade. Even though the Indian government had claimed that the blockade was unofficial, it had greatly affected the Nepalese citizens. The blockade had created a harsh fuel crisis in Kathmandu and other areas since, Nepal depends completely on India for its fuel supply. Definitely, there may be many places that need correction in the new constitution but, this should had been done through the dialogue, not coercion by the Indian government. Frustrated by the prolonged protests, local peoples on Friday forcefully opened the border which was the right decision in the favor of both the countries.