Cargo trucks enter Nepal through Birganj after 135 days

Trucks carrying Indian goods entered Nepal through the main trade point at Birganj on Friday after a gap of 135 days when traders removed barricades set up by Madhesis protesting against the constitution.

Traders from Raxual in India removed the barricades and burnt tents erected by the United Democratic Madhesi Front on Miteri Bridge at the border, allowing the trucks to enter Nepal. The barricades were set up on September 23 last year.

“Traders from Raxaul removed the barricades at 1.40 pm. They were helped by locals from Birganj as well. Till 4 pm, nearly 35 trucks entered Nepal,” an official at the Parsa district head office said over phone.

Soon after the barricades were removed, UDMF protesters reached the scene but they were unable to prevent the movement of vehicles.

The UDMF, comprising four Madhesi parties, has been protesting against Nepal’s new constitution and seeking several changes, including fresh demarcation of federal boundaries and proportional representation in all state bodies for people living in the Terai region bordering India.

They protestors blocked several key points along the border with India, including Birganj, through which nearly 70% of bilateral trade takes place. The blockade resulted in a severe shortage of essential goods.

Last month, five trucks entered Nepal through Birganj early in the morning when no UDMF protesters were present on Miteri Bridge. Soon after, the route was again blocked by protesters.

The UDMF has rejected amendments to the constitution carried out last month and is seeking a deal to address all its demands.

Recently, several senior UDMF leaders hinted they might lift the blockade and change the nature of their protests since the disruption of the movement of trucks was affecting businesses and local residents.

Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times

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