India closes its field office in BiratnagarThe Government of India has shut down its field office in Biratnagar on Wednesday, bringing to an end its official presence in Nepal’s southern plains after a decade. Though the office has suspended all its operations, field officials say it will take some time for them to vacate the office.
The Government of India has shut down its field office in Biratnagar on Wednesday, bringing to an end its official presence in Nepal’s southern plains after a decade. Though the office has suspended all its operations, field officials say it will take some time for them to vacate the office.
The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu said the move follows the decision of the Indian government on May 21 to close the outpost after repeated requests from the government of Nepal. With this all services which have been carried out so far from the Biratnagar office, including issuing of motor vehicle permits, registration certificates for Indian nationals, attestation of documents, will now be handled by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu, chief of the field office Niraj Jaiswal said.
Inspector at Area Police Office in Rani Santosh Niraula, who had visited the field office on Wednesday, said it would take around two weeks for the Indian authorities to vacate the office.
The current development surfaced following apprehension by political leaders, including Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. Following discussions on the matter with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi both during his visit to India and Modi’s subsequent visit to Nepal, PM Oli had notified the Parliamentary Party meeting of his Nepal Communist Party about the closure of the field office in the near future.
Nepal had been requesting India since 2009 to wind down the field office set up to facilitate Nepali vehicles’ movement on Indian routes after the 2008 Koshi floods destroyed a section of the East-West Highway on the Nepal side. New Delhi later scaled up the functions and facilities of the temporary office.
The government had made serious effort to remove the field office six years ago when Narayan Kaji Shrestha was the foreign minister. In 2011, the then Baburam Bhattarai-led government dispatched two diplomatic notes to New Delhi seeking immediately removal of the office, to no avail. The Foreign Ministry had also communicated to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu about the need to review the existence of the office on the grounds of security vulnerabilities and diplomatic sensibilities. Brushing off the suggestions, India in 2014 sought the government’s permission to establish a Consulate General Office in Biratnagar by upgrading the field office.