Trucks from India cross into Nepal as key border-point opens

Trucks from India cross into Nepal as key border-point opens

 For the first time in over four months, trucks from India entered Nepal through a key border trade point today as local traders from both sides burned down tents set up by Madhesi protesters who had imposed a blockade that led to severe shortages of fuel in the landlocked nation.

Trucks entered Nepal through the Birgunj-Raxual border crossing in Bihar.
A huge convoy of freight containers entered Nepal after local entrepreneurs from Nepal and India set ablaze the tents set by Sayukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha (SLMM) protesters at Dasgaja's Miteri Bridge in Birgunj, 90 kilometres south of Kathmandu.

"There was no official announcement of lifting of the blockade by India, though with no protesters obstructing the border point, few vehicles have entered into Nepal from Raxaul, said Yadav Koirala, Nepal home ministry spokesperson.

"There is no blockade at the checkpoint right now, and over 150 trucks have passed through since afternoon," a senior police official said.

Locals chased away Tarai-Madhes Loktantrik Party leader Jitendra Sonal who reached the scene claiming the border blockade had not been officially ended.

The Madhesis, mostly of Indian origin, have been demanding the new Constitution be amended to include their concerns.

There is a strong presence of police and locals in the bridge. Meanwhile, small vehicles and rickshaws are plying in and across the bridge.

A group of Indian traders came to the border and set ablaze the tents while some Nepalese locals also extended support to their action by chasing away few protesters sitting near the border area.

After the removal of the tent and vacating the protesters from the border area few dozens of vehicles including some containers entered Nepal, according to officials.

The opening of the major Indo-Nepal border point comes as the protesting Madhesi leaders indicated that they would change the form of protest and the border blockade was likely to be lifted.

Meanwhile, security arrangements have been intensified in the area to prevent any untoward incident.

For more than four months, life in the southern Nepal plains have been seriously affected with the Madhesi Front-led protests against the country's new Constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 20.

The Madhesis have been agitating over the new Constitution demanding more representation. They are also protesting division of their ancestral homeland under the seven-province structure and have led the blockade of key border trade points with India.

So far, 55 people have died in the violent Madhesi-Tharu agitation launched by Nepal's marginalised groups.

There has been growing pressure on the Madhesi Front to lift the blockade at the border as landlocked Nepal faced acute shortage of fuel, cooking gas and medicines among other essentials due to the blockade.

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