An Open letter to our neighbors in India

  By Uttam B. Khatri 

            August 15, 1947, is the Independence day of India. Congratulations to all the people of India on our neighbor's day of freedom. Thanks to the British raj for their efforts in creating India and leaving the Union in today's shape and size. As most of the informed general Indian populace can be expected to know that India and Nepal have several centuries-old histories. We have common pre-historic and ancient epics like Ramayan, Mahabharat, Vedas, etc that describe India and Nepal. Even in the pre-Buddha era and the Maurya and Gupta empires narrate stories about the relationship between the two countries. However, India never existed in its present form and there was no country named India before the European traders came to Asia. During the early period of the Moghal period, the invading forces started to arrive in South Asia, the sub-continent

had several hundred small kingdoms. With the advent of a Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama, towards the end of the 15th century, the Europeans started to sail to South Asia in large numbers in pursuit of new business and trade. Eventually, the Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English traders turned into Colonialism. In South Asia, British colonialism prevailed more than others. They gradually entered the sub-continent through primitive ports and established themselves in different regions as trading companies. In course of time, they disguised as traders, organized militarily, and invaded the kingdoms, conspired one against another, and gradually colonized Kingdoms after Kingdoms. Over a short period of time, the Mughal empire fell under the British assaults. The East India Company's ambition to rule the whole sub-continent grew further. After colonizing most of the coastal states, they started to invade other directions including in the north.

The north had its own history. Over several centuries, the Kingdom of Nepal is said to have existed all along the Himalayan region from east to west, and the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers being the frontiers in the south. Of course, the size and shape of Nepal expanded and contracted with the rise and fall of different ruling dynasties over a period of many centuries. However, because of her geographical situation, Nepal did not see a major foreign invasion because of the formidable Himalayan range in the north and big rivers and impenetrable dense forests along with the southern territories. The only foreign invasions were, the first one by the Mughals and the subsequent by the British were said to have occurred some two hundred fifty years ago when King Prithvi Narayan Shah was in the process of the unification of Nepal. 

Prithvi Narayan Shah, the King of a small kingdom of Gorkha saw what the "Firingis" the colonialists were doing in the south. The East India company was colonizing kingdoms after kingdoms in the south. With the invasion led by Capt. Kinlock, Prithvi Narayan envisioned that the British would soon attack and merge all the small kingdoms of the Himalayan region into their colony like the rest of the south. He soon intensified the unification of Nepal and made the country unified and strong so that he could defeat the invading force. In fact, Prithvi Narayan Shah was the first King who fought the colonialist. One of his main objectives of unifying Nepal was to defeat and drive the colonialist from south Asia. Thus, the King initiated the first anti-colonialist campaign in Asia from Nepal. Western historians have distorted the history of Prithvi Narayan Shah because he was the one who stopped them from setting foot in the region. The subject deserves more research. 

During the regency of Prince Bahadur Shah, the younger son of Prithvi Narayan continued the legacy of his father's unification efforts for a unified and strong Nepal. He unified Nepal out of her many previous territories, as far as the Sutlej river in the west and Tista river in the east, and almost up to the Ganga river in the south. There were several small kingdoms in the region. During the Bahadur Shah's unification period, the British had not yet penetrated that far on the North-west part of the region. If Bahadur Shah had not unified the smaller kingdoms, the British would have swallowed them as well, which they did by attacking Nepal in 1814. After the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-1816 and with a deceitful treaty of Sugauli, the British looted about half of unified and Greater Nepal's territory. They merged them with their colony of India. Consequently, the so-called treaty contracted Nepal and is said to have the territories from the Mechi river in the east and the Mahakali river in the west. Unfortunately, however, since independence, India has encroached on more than seventy places all along the current Nepal-India border including the Limpia Dhura, Lipulekh, Kalapani, Susta, etc. As a result, this kind of Indian aggression has generated a great deal of anti-Indian sentiments amongst Nepalis in Nepal and across the world. Indian friends should understand the reality of Indian overtures in Nepal. Relation between the people of Nepal and India should in fact be harmonious, friendly with cordial, and be respectful to each other. After India gained independence from the British, Nepalis were inspired for freedom from the Ranas. King Tribhuvan did not have power, he wanted to get rid of Ranas as well. On the other hand, Nepalis who saw India's freedom from the British, wanted the Ranas to give up power just like the British did in India.


Indo-Nepal relation since August 15, 1947, to date:

The British defeated hundreds of small kingdoms across south Asia and created a colony from Afghanistan to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and named it India. There was no country named India before the East India company created it. India as a country, never owned the territories that the British looted from Nepal after the so-called treaty of Sugauli. The unified Greater Nepal's territories belonged to several smaller kingdoms just like other kingdoms of the rest of previous ancient Nepal. In course of fighting colonialism, Prithvi Narayan Shah and his son Bahadur Shah consolidated the territories and unified them into Greater Nepal. Great Nepali patriot sons like Bhakti Thapa, Damodar Pandey, Amar Singh Thapa, Balabhadra Kuwar, and thousands of brave Nepalis fought the war with the British to save Greater Nepal from Colonialism. Therefore, when the British decolonized India and granted them freedom on August 15, 1947, the Greater Nepal's territories should have been returned to Nepal if justice was to prevail. Unfortunately, however, due to the pressure and conspiracy on the part of Indian leaders like Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, and their followers, the timidity of the British, and the stupidity of the Ranas, Nepali leaders, and king Tribhuvan to some extent failed to address the issue of decolonizing Nepal's looted territories. 

Unfortunately, set aside the return of the looted territories of Nepal, the Indian political leaders had an ill design on Nepal since Indian Independence in 1947. By and large, Indian people have a friendly relationship with the people of Nepal. It's the leadership of India who acts as a big brother to Nepalis and tends to look down upon them. Nepalis who have been protecting their borders from the very beginning of their independence resent the Indian attitude and their behaviors. 

After Indian independence, the political situation in Nepal was also affected. Some people were inspired by the political changes that took place in India. The Nepali leaders such as BP Koirala, Matrika Prasad Koirala, Subarna Shamsher, etc who were either born, exiled, or living in India at that time were encouraged for democracy in Nepal. They made clandestine contact with king Tribhuvan and started organizing for the ouster of the Rana regime. King Tribhuvan who was just a figurehead and did not have any power was also encouraged for the restoration of a full-fledged monarchy in the country.

Although the Indian leaders fought colonialism and endured a lot of hardship for freedom, they did not have a good deed for Nepal. For instance, they fought against colonialism but they not only acted against the negotiation for Nepal's occupied territories, but they have also been trying to bring Nepal under their jurisdiction or even merge them into India if they could. The Indian leaders from Gandhi, Nehru down to PM Narendra Modi's act can be summarized as follows:

The late Indian PM Nehru, Patel, and their associates tried to take advantage of the then PM of Nepal Mohan Shumsher to submit Nepal to merge into India. Mohan Shumsher was lured with the false promise of letting him keep his regime. On Nehru's request and false assurance, the last Primeminister of Nepal, Mohan Shumsher even send a large contingent of the Nepali army to quell the potential insurgency in favor of the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1948. King Tribhuban was pressured with false promises of making him the king of India for life if he gave up the sovereignty of Nepal. On the other hand, the Indian leadership had encouraged and helped the exiled Nepali leaders in organizing a revolution in Nepal against the Ranas. Nehru's team trained, financed, and send Nepalis living in India to fight in the name of revolution and democracy in Nepal. In 1951 with the help of India, the Ranas were toppled down. King Tribhuban who was encouraged to act against the Rana and who was also exiled in India returned to Nepal. Nepal was declared a democracy under the king. 

With the advent of " democracy," Indian interference started multiplying in Nepal. Indians were sent as advisors to King Tribhuban. The Indian Prime minister Nehru as a leader of a newly freed country would present himself as a freedom fighter publicly but in private he along with other Indian leaders apparently harbored an ill design on Nepal. Privately, they were working to merge Nepal into India. Nehru, in the name of modernizing the Nepal Army, send a contingent of the Indian army as advisors, in Nepal. The number of the Nepal Army was reduced to a mere one-fourth of its strength. Prime minister Matrika Prasad Koirala was forced to establish an Indian Military check post along the Nepal-China border. It took several years of political and diplomatic maneuvering for King Mahendra to remove the Indian check post. The King had assigned Prime minister Kirtinidhi Bista for doing the job. However, it will be appropriate here to add that during the India-China border war of 1962, when the Indian troops were defeated badly and driven out from the area, Nehru requested King Mahendra for a temporary post until the border war was over. King Mahendra granted permission on Nehru's request for the Indian Army's temporary stay at Kalapani. Unfortunately, the Indians have continued to occupy Kalapani along with the Lipulekh and Limpiadhura area which lies further in the northwest of Kalapani. Shame on India, it is like the "Camel in the Tent" episode. 

A few years ago, in an effort to resolve various issues that existed between India and Nepal, a powerful entity named EPG (Eminent Persons Group) was established which was selected and approved by both Governments. The Nepali team was headed by Dr. Bhekh Bahadur Thapa.The Indian team was led by Mr. Hosiyai, a prominent Indian. The teams comprised of four persons each, they were highly successful officials from both countries. The two Prime ministers of Nepal and India agreed to study the group's report and implement the clauses that would be acceptable to both countries. Unfortunately, however, Prime minister Modi who was supposed to review the report has not given any attention to it for three years. He simply has ignored the EPG report that cost a lot of time, money, and diligence of eight learned eminent persons. This episode is another example of India's bullying tactics.   

At the beginning of the cold war period in the early fifties, PM Nehru made a secret alliance with the then Soviet Union. It is believed that Nehru even used Soviet Union's veto power in denying United Nation's membership to Nepal. Nepal applied for membership in 1949 when the Ranas were still in power. The Russians used their Veto at the UN, three times in blocking Nepal's membership. It is believed that Nehru and his assistants were instrumental in using the Soviet Union privately in denying the membership to Nepal. Finally, on December 14, 1955, Nepal became a member of the UN. Obviously, the purpose of Nehru and his subordinates were to keep Nepal out from the UN. It is also widely believed that king Mahendra knew about India's design on Nepal and pursued Nepal's application for UN membership vigorously and succeeded in fulfilling the dream. It is also believed that the U.S. and its allies also played an important role in this regard in the end. This information was obtained from a very reliable source. However, it needs to be further researched to confirm its authenticity.

Furthermore, the Indian politician's role and their direct and indirect interferences in Nepal can be summarised in the following words. After gaining independence from the British empire in 1947, the Indian leaders tried to merge Nepal into their Union in a 'democratic' way. They did not want to use military force so that the superpowers and the rest of the world would not see the freedom fighters of India as expansionists or aggressors. However, the world has witnessed that India has border disputes and wars with most of its neighbors like Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Nepal.

For the next ten years, the political situation in Nepal remained unstable. India played a major role, while the Government in Nepal kept changing. A general election was conducted, the Nepali Congress won the election and BP Koirala became the Prime minister of Nepal. Indian influence continued in the country. The interest of Koirala's Government and the Monarch clashed. King Mahendra dissolved the parliament, banned the parties, and imprisoned Koirala. Most of the Nepali congress party supporters fled to India and organized against the King. India supported the dissidents and helped them with men, materials, and arms for another revolution against the Monarch. However, the anti-government activities within Nepal could not gain momentum. In the meantime, King Mahendra introduced the partyless Panchayat system of Government. Under the Panchayat system, a lot of progress was achieved in the country. The political stability lasted for about ten years. After king Mahendra's demise in 1978, Birendra ascended to the throne of Nepal. King Birendra was a benevolent monarch. 

In Nepal's history, after the demise of Prithvi Narayan Shah, a very few Kings have directly ruled in Nepal. In fact, just about 30 years after the Anglo-Nepal war of 1814-1816, Jung Bahadur Rana came to power and Rana's autocratic regime lasted for one hundred four years. The Ranas just acted like the allies of the British. Nepal, as she was landlocked by British India, remained closed to the outside world, did not see any development for more than a century. The Shah Kings could not be blamed for the backward and underdeveloped economy. In a short period of ten years during King Mahendra's rule, Nepal probably saw the most development both nationally and internationally.

Due to Nepal's geographic situation, being landlocked by India on three sides, the country has remained undeveloped and poor economically. The people of Nepal partially blame Indian Political leaders and their policy for the underdeveloped state of the country. Nepal got rid of the autocratic rule of the Ranas some seventy years ago. So many underdeveloped countries have made tremendous progress. Since the last seventy-four years after India gained independence from the British, India has directly or indirectly interfered several times in the internal politics of Nepal. The first one was when the Rana regime was overthrown in 1951. The second time, India grossly instigated and supported the Nepali congress rebellions to overthrow the Monarchy when King Mahendra dissolved Nepali Congress Government in 1961. Indian involvement in those two major political changes has already been stated earlier in this write-up. Another major political upheaval took place in Nepal in the late eighties. Many senior Indian political leaders came to different parts of Nepal including Kathmandu and openly instigated and incited the Nepali political party members, cadres, and general public to revolt against the sitting Government of Nepal. The Indian congress Government was openly in support of the Indian leaders' campaign for the restoration of so-called democracy in Nepal. This act on the part of the Indian Government and leaders was such a flagrant interference in Nepal's internal affairs. 

More importantly, after yet another change in politics in 1990, Nepal adopted a new constitution, and a multi-party system of democracy under Constitutional Monarchy was adopted. The Nepali people were enjoying the benefits of a fully democratic system of Government. In 1996 some Communists in the name of Maoists started the rebellion against the Government of Nepali Congress. The Maoist insurgency escalated in most of the rural districts of Nepal. The Government of Nepal was dealing with the rebels although violence was on the rise. Unfortunately, it is now clear that the Indian Government was secretly providing Nepal's Maoists with finance, training, logistics, arms to overthrow the democratic Government of Nepal. The Maoists had reportedly started their so-called revolution not only to get rid of the democrats but to overthrow the monarchy and declare Nepal a Republic. India secretly supported and used the Maoists in getting rid of Monarchy from Nepal. Because the Monarchs always stood firm against Indian hegemony in Nepal. Because of this latest clandestine role India played against Nepal, it has been clear to Nepali people that Indian leaders have been playing every game to destabilize Nepal and grab every opportunity to weaken Nepal and eventually annex the rest of the country. In recent years, it's been revealed that India pressured King Tribhuban, King Mahendra, King Birendra, and finally King Gyanendra to succumb to their ill design to bring Nepal under their security umbrella. None of the Kings agreed to compromise Nepal's sovereignty and accept Indian suzerainty. As a result, India started to play in Nepali politics by using Nepali leaders indirectly and directly in India's interest. India and its leaders have used pressure on the leaders sometimes with bribes, commission, and luring to higher positions including that of the Prime minister especially after Nepal was declared a Republic 13 years ago. Under the present Constitution, India has been playing a major role in Nepal's politics in every sector of the country. For instance, India's role has been of vital importance in installing the Government. Within the past thirteen years, India has tested four communist leaders and one Nepali Congress leader as the Prime minister of Nepal. The latest is the installation of Sher Bahadur Deuba as the Prime minister. It is so unfortunate for Nepali people. The Indian people who think of good for Nepal need to ponder deeply what is going on in Nepal and they need to educate India's masses on how unfair and injustice the Indian leader's policy on Nepal has become lately. The change could also benefit the Indian neighbors and the change has become inevitable. The shift in the policy should take place immediately before it is too late.  

                                                    Writer Khatri 

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