India expresses grave concern; flights to Nepal cancelled
New Delhi, February 1
The Government of India was caught unawares by the developments in Nepal and New Delhi took the situation with utmost seriousness. External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh had an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during which he briefed him on the latest situation in Nepal and also its possible fallout on the upcoming SAARC summit in Dhaka.
The Ministry of External Affairs issued a strongly worded statement, which indicated both its displeasure as well as surprise over the King’s actions.
“The latest developments in Nepal bring the monarchy and the mainstream political parties in direct confrontation with each other. This can only benefit the forces that not only wish to undermine democracy but the institution of monarchy as well,” the MEA statement said.
Senior officials in South Block viewed the Nepal King’s actions as fraught with dangerous consequences, which could redefine the country’s political future.
The MEA stated that India had always considered that to deal with the political and economic challenges in Nepal, it was imperative for the mountain kingdom to evolve a broad national consensus, particularly between the monarchy and political parties,
“India has consistently supported multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy enshrined in Nepal’s Constitution as the two pillars of political stability in Nepal. This principle has now been violated with the King forming a government under his chairmanship,” the MEA said.
Officials said India’s strong reaction was aimed at conveying to the King of Nepal that by his action he had crossed the “Lakshman Rekha’.
The MEA statement first listed out the developments in Nepal — the dissolution of the multi-party government led by Prime Minister Deuba, the constitution of a Council of Ministers under King’s own chairmanship, declaration of an emergency and suspension of fundamental rights.
“These developments constitute a serious setback to the cause of democracy in Nepal and cannot but be a cause of grave concern to India... There are also reports that several political leaders have been confined to their residences.
The safety and welfare of the political leaders must be ensured and political parties must be allowed to exercise all rights enjoyed by them under the Constitution,” the statement said.
It pointed out that India had a long-standing and unique relationship with Nepal, with which it shares an open border, a history of strong cultural and spiritual values and wide-ranging economic and commercial links. “We will continue to support the restoration of political stability and economic prosperity in Nepal, a process which requires reliance on the forces of democracy and the support of the people of Nepal.”
In the wake of these developments, as all flights in and out of Kathmandu were suspended and the airspace closed, India cancelled all flights to Kathmandu.
An Air Sahara flight which took off from here in the morning, returned after hovering over the Kathmandu airport as it was not allowed to land. After this, Indian Airlines and Jet Airways cancelled their flights to Kathmandu.