Indo-Nepal extradition treaty gets going again

September 2nd, 2008 - 1:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Sep 2 (IANS) The thorny extradition treaty between India and Nepal has got going again with the governments of the two neighbouring countries reaching an agreement on the revision, Nepal’s newly appointed home minister said.An updated Indo-Nepal Extradition Treaty along with a new agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters was to have been signed two years ago during the coalition government of the then prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

However, at the last moment, the then home minister, Krishna Prasad Sitaula, was compelled to cancel his visit to New Delhi to sign the new document after the Maoists objected.

The former guerrillas stopped the signing of the revised treaty on the ground that it was an issue of national interest and a decision should be taken only after the constituent assembly election when a new government with people’s mandate came into being.

The revised treaty created further controversy after Pakistan expressed concern over it, especially India’s desire that the pact should allow the extradition of third-country nationals.

New Delhi’s nuclear neighbour and rival Islamabad is also said to be interested in forging a similar pact with Nepal and has reportedly forwarded a draft to the Nepali authorities.

Now with a new Maoist-led government in Nepal, the sleeping Indo-Nepal extradition treaty has got a new impetus.

Nepal’s home minister and deputy prime minister Bam Dev Gautam, who was sworn in Sunday, told IANS that an agreement has been reached with the Indian authorities about extraditing people wanted for reasons other than political.

The treaty, first signed in 1855 and then revised in 1953, would facilitate the extradition of people wanted for crimes and economic offences.

Gautam said the foreign ministries of both countries are also involved in the drafting of the revised pact.

The minister also pledged that the security situation in Nepal would improve perceptibly and rule of law imposed within six months.

The new government will crack down on the criminal gangs spreading terror in the Terai plains along the Indo-Nepal border.

Gautam said the “conflict situation” in the Terai was created by two elements. One was political in nature and would be addressed politically.

The minister was referring to the factions of former Maoists, who began waging an underground war from the fag-end of the Maoist insurgency, demanding greater rights for the Terai people of Indian origin or Madhesis.

However, the other section, he said, was “criminal” and would be “controlled by force”.

The Prachanda government, he said, would invite the warring factions in the Terai to begin dialogue. Those who responded would be treated as political forces and those who did not as criminal elements.

The deputy premier also said that Nepal would not allow its soil to be used for any activities against its friendly neighbours India and China.

However, the measures used to deter such activities would be democratic, he said.

The minister also said that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had asked the government to implement the rule of law irrespective of political loyalties.

“Whoever take the law into their own hands would be brought to justice,” he said. “Neither the Young Communist League (the Maoists’ powerful youth wing) nor the Youth Force (the youth wing of Gautam’s own Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist) would be spared because the former is associated with Prachanda and the latter with me.”

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