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Indian envoy faces Maoist wrath for trip to Tibet border

October 8, 2010

By Sudeshna Sarkar
October 6, 2010

Kathmandu, Oct 6 (IANS) -- Maoist supporters
Wednesday tried to obstruct the Indian ambassador
to Nepal, Rakesh Sood, from inaugurating a
healthcare project that will benefit hundreds of
school children because it was near the Tibet
border, a sensitive area for China that remains
wary of Tibetan uprisings from Nepal.

Nearly three dozen people, led by former Maoist
minister for culture Gopal Kirati, who had
earlier spearheaded the attack on Indian priests
at the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, waved
black flags at the Phaphlu airport in northern
Nepal and raised anti-India slogans when the
envoy reached there to inaugurate an eye camp.

A regional association of the Maoists, the Sherpa
Rastriya Mukti Morcha-Nepal, had issued a
statement earlier, asking the envoy to call off
his visit to Solukhumbu district in northern Nepal or face “strong protests."

The warning was delivered on behalf of China,
with whom the Maoists have been strengthening
their ties, especially after the fall of their government last year.

Northern Nepal remains a sensitive spot for
Beijing that continues to be haunted by an
uprising by Tibetans in the 1950s against the annexation of China.

The Khampa warriors of Tibet who resisted the
invasion had guerrilla bases in northern Nepal
and were trained by the CIA and supported by India.

The Morcha alleged that the Indian government had
stepped up "so-called charitable and religious
projects” in northern Nepal in a bid to stoke another anti-China movement.

However, unfazed by the protests, the Indian
envoy inaugurated the newly set up district
branch of the Nepal-India Human Development and
Friendship Association at Salleri and an eye camp
by the Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh (NNJS) at Lukla.
The eye camp at the Mahendra Higher Secondary
School will examine more than 800 children.

Since 2001, India has been providing assistance
to NNJS for eye care programmes in Nepal through
free eye camps organised as part of the
India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme. It
has treated over 75,000 people for cataract and
trachoma and distributed optical devices and
spectacles to over 18,000 school-going children.

Sood was given a thumping welcome by the school
children, who lined up the road to welcome him.
The Indian envoy was also welcomed by the local
leaders of the major political parties - except
the Maoists - who submitted proposals for an
additional 12 projects related to education and health.
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