India-Nepal ‘beti-roti’ ties souring into bitterness

For years India and Nepal have had close relations with each other -geographically, culturally and historically, but now tension is all pervasive all along the India-Nepal border

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media
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IANS

For years India and Nepal have had close relations with each other -- geographically, culturally, historically, but now tension is all pervasive all along the India-Nepal border. After the controversy over the boundaries along the borders from West Champaran to Purnia in Bihar, the relationship sees no signs of improving.

In such a situation, tension between the two countries has increased manifold. On May 27, people of both countries came face-to-face as the waters of the mountain rivers were blocked at Bhikhnathori border in West Champaran district. Tension also prevails in the villages around the Valmiki Tiger Reserve due to the blocking of the water flow.

Tension is also prevailing on the Chhaudadano border of East Champaran. Here the officials of both the countries had to intervene after a fight broke out between two villages on both sides of the border.

The relationship between India and Nepal is often termed of 'beti-roti' ties resulting in a tight knit community where shared culture and marriages along with trade across the border is quite common.

Ties between the two countries soured after Nepal released a political map showing Indian territory as theirs.

More recently on Friday, in the Sonbarsa police station area of Sitamarhi, the death of one person in firing by Nepal Sashastra Bal jawans, added to the bitterness in the relationship.

While Indian borders with other countries are heavily guarded, the India-Nepal border is open. Anybody can move to the other side anytime with no restrictions imposed. Many residents of Bihar have land in Nepal, while many more have relations in the neighbouring country.

The soldiers posted as guards on the frontiers also played their role in strengthening the ties, but recent events have created fissures in this relationship. The Sashastra Seema Bal has pointed to a local dispute behind the Sitamarhi firing incident.

Ajay Pandey, former secretary of a NGO -- Media for Border Harmony, says that ever since the formation of the new government in Nepal, tension has increased on the border. He says, "You should talk to the people on both sides, even today sweetness prevails in the villages on both sides. After the coming of the Left-backed government, the bitterness in the relationship has increased. The tense situation at the border still prevails. Small issues turn into big controversies."

The leader of the Madhesi movement and MP Pradeep Yadav has blamed the Nepal government for the souring relationship between the two countries. He said there is a need to improve the situation and make the relationship more sweet and strong, instead of bitterness.

Yadav has threatened to revive the Madhesi movement if the current situation continues.

Arjun Bhartiya, a resident of Raxaul situated on the Indo-Nepal border, and an expert on Indo-Nepal relations, says there have been many such incidents in recent times which have made people suspicious. He said there is no doubt that tension is prevailing along the border at the moment, but there is room for improvement.

He said there are many villages along the border which are completely dependent on each other. Recently, the borders were sealed due to the corona pandemic, which caused major problems for the inhabitants there.

The SSB however looks at it from a different angle. IG Sanjay Kumar says there is no tension on the India-Nepal border. He said it is an open border and people from both the countries come and go all the time. Sometimes there are disputes which are resolved.

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