Diplomatic note sent to India over child’s death in Darchula incidentIndia did not respond to two previous such notes—on the new Indian map and Jaya Singh Dhami’s death.
Nepal has sent a ‘diplomatic note’ to the government of India through the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu following the death of nine-year-old Pawan Mahara of Vyas Rural Municipality-2 in Dumling on Sunday.
Mahara died on Friday after being hit by a flying rock splinter from a blast carried out on the Indian side in order to widen the Tavaghat-Lipulekh road across the Mahakali river.
The explosion carried out by Indian contractor firm Garg & Garg killed Mahara and injured his sister, both of whom were walking on the Nepali side. The injured girl, Sarina Mahara, was discharged from the hospital on Saturday, according to Dirgha Raj Upadhyaya, chief district officer of Darchula.
“The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu received the diplomatic note on the incident on Sunday morning,” an officer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Post on the condition of anonymity. “As soon as we received the official report from the Ministry of Home Affairs, we sent a diplomatic note to India on Sunday morning.”
Nepal has highlighted mainly three issues in the note, as per the ministry official.
“Nepal has asked the Indian government to inform the Nepali local authorities on any construction activity going on along the border, to take extra precautions in the future while carrying out construction work, and has sought compensation and assistance for the deceased’s family,” the official said.
As per the foreign ministry source, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs would be alerted about the incident via the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi. “We shall do a follow up on the diplomatic note with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Monday,” a source at the Nepal Embassy in New Delhi said.
When the Post contacted the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu to inquire about the diplomatic note, the embassy declined to comment.
However, the Indian side has acknowledged the tragedy and took responsibility for the incident on Saturday.
Following the incident, a group of representatives from Darchula travelled to India on Saturday along with the victim's family to hold talks with Indian officials.
The victim’s family and local representatives held a meeting at the office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Pithoragargh, with Indian officials and the contractor of the road project.
At the meeting, the Indian side offered Rs1 million and a job to a member of the bereaved family. However, the victim's family demanded 1 million Indian rupees (Rs1.6 million) in compensation.
“The victim family and the Indian contractor have reached an agreement where the family members will get 1 million Indian rupees in compensation,” Chief District Officer Upadhyaya told the Post.
The Nepali representatives also asked the Indian side to take extra precautions while carrying out development work on the border and inform the Nepali officials in advance before carrying out blasts.
On July 30 last year, Jaya Singh Dhami, 33, from Khangdang Mal of Vyas Rural Municipality-2 in Darchula, fell into the bordering Mahakali River while crossing the river with the help of an improvised cable mechanism after Indian security personnel disengaged the cable from the post it was tied to. Dhami remains missing ever since.
The Home Ministry had formed a team and communicated to the Indian side to compensate the Dhami family. After much criticism, the Sher Bahadur Deuba government wrote a diplomatic note to India in August last year, requesting New Delhi to launch a detailed investigation into the involvement of Indian security personnel in the incident. But India is yet to address Nepal’s concerns.
“I am not aware of any Indian response to the diplomatic note on the Dhami issue. Most likely, the Indian side has yet to respond,” an officer at the MoFA said.
Also, before the Dhami incident, Nepal had sent a diplomatic note to the southern neighbour protesting the new political map of India that included the Nepali territory of Kalapani within India. India had on November 2, 2019 issued the controversial political map raising Nepali hackles. However, India has not responded to the diplomatic note.
Though there is no response from the Indian side, we should not stop voicing our displeasure over such matters, says the immediate-past ambassador of Nepal to India, Nilamber Acharya. Nepal had sent two diplomatic notes to India when he was Nepal’s envoy to India.
“If the issue is not resolved, there should be further action. There should be a follow-up. But we should also consider other channels to register our concerns,” Acharya told the Post.
Despite the fact that similar incidents occur frequently along the Mahakali river, it is negligence on the part of both sides not to have any mechanism to resolve the problems, he said. “The two sides should form a permanent mechanism for a long-term solution to such problems instead of demanding compensation and investigation after every such incident,” Acharya stressed.