Following blackout, Nepal government asks cable operators to air Indian TV channels
Nepal Government has asked the cable operators to continue the broadcast of Indian TV channels and sought explanation from them for blacking out the channels in the wake of blockade of trade checkpoints with India by agitators opposing the new Constitution.
Cable TV operators in Nepal on Monday announced that they would indefinitely blackout all the Indian channels to protest the blockade of a key trade checkpoint with India by agitators opposing Nepal's new Constitution.
The cable operators, in a meeting held in Kathmandu, decided that they would blackout all the Indian channels indefinitely in a symbolic protest.
President of Federation of Nepal Cable Television Association Sushil Parajuli said they decided to shut down the broadcast of the Indian channels as "India has been intruding in the national sovereignty of Nepal."
Parajuli also added that the Federation was getting pressure from few parties and public to cut the Indian channels.
Unrest in Nepal's Terai plains over the new Constitution has led to the blockade of Birgunj trade checkpoint with India, cutting off vital supplies.
In response, on Tuesday, the Nepal Government sought explanation from the cable operators for blacking out the channels and asked them to continue the broadcast of the same.
The Ministry of Information and Communications sought clarification from various cable operators as to why action must not be taken against them as they have violated the National Broadcasting Act. The Ministry said that the cable operators violated the provisions and had stopped broadcasting the channels without any prior notice.
The Ministry has asked them to furnish clarification within 24 hours and continue the broadcast.
India had expressed concern over the new constitution after its adoption has spurred protests by minority ethnic groups in the south of Nepal.
There were even reports that India has suggested changes and prescribed amendments in the new Constitution. The government later denied any such involvement, stating the such suggestion were result of an "incorrect" report in an English daily.
Nepal is reeling under scarcity of essential goods including petroleum products and cooking gas due to the blockade along the border areas.
Many Nepalis are calling the situation at the border as an 'unofficial' blockade from the part of India. Nepal Times, in a report pointed out that India has violated at least eight international laws and conventions with the blockade.
Violations listed by the newspaper include that of the Vienna Convention, the Law of the Seas, the WTO laws, the Transit Treaty, the Bilateral Trade Treaty, the Asian Highway Agreement and the SAFTA agreement.
Human rights activist Krishna Pahadi has also sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying, "The blockade has damaged Nepal-India relations and also shattered Modi's efforts to cement ties between the two neighbours."
Meanwhile, Bijaya Gachhadar, president of Madhesi Peoples Rights Forum Democratic, a moderate Madhesi party, after attending a meeting with the government officials claimed that the border blockade was not due to the agitating Madhesi cadres.
At least 40 people have died in over a month in clashes between police and protesters from the Madhesi and Tharu communities, and ethnic minorities. The agitating Madhesi Front claims that the Constitution does not guarantee enough rights and representation to the Madhesi and Tharu communities.
Madhesis are Indian-origin inhabitants of the Terai plains bordering India.
With inputs from agencies.
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