Black flags shown to Menon in Nepal, four arrested

June 20th, 2009 - 2:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 20 (IANS) Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, on a two-day visit to Nepal Saturday to give fresh impetus to the obstructed peace process and foster better ties with the new government, faced protests at the Kathmandu airport on his arrival by youths alleging India had occupied Nepal’s territory.
Nepal police said about seven to eight young men, seemingly students, tried to show the visiting envoy black flags as he alighted at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.

However, police broke up the protest and arrested four of the protesters.

“It’s a non-political protest,” the Gaushala police station in-charge told IANS. “The youths said they were part of the Susta Bachao Abhiyan. We are looking into the matter.”

For years, Nepalis have been alleging Indian encroachment in Susta, a village in Nawalparasi district on the Indo-Nepal border.

Locals, who say they have been displaced, have formed a committee to begin a campaign to claim the village back.

The committee recently came to Kathmandu to submit a memorandum to the new Prime Minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal.

The Indian government says all border disputes between the two neighbours have been resolved except for Susta and Kalapani, another disputed area on the Indo-Nepal-China border.

However, on the eve of Menon’s visit, there were a series of reports in the Nepali media, alleging further encroachment and violence by India’s border guards - the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) - in other districts.

Though the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu denied the allegations, two teams of lawmakers and politicians who went to visit some of the disputed sites have since then submitted their reports, claiming the allegations were true.

There is speculation that the border disputes will also figure during the talks between the visiting envoy and Nepal’s prime minister and other ministers.

While the prime minister himself has been taking a conciliatory tone, the chief of his own party has asked for Nepal’s sovereignty to be protected.

Jhalanath Khanal, chief of the ruling Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), has said that his party would give priority to maintaining the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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