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VII: Another viewpoint
VIII: The ambassador speaks
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
One reason the ISI is making Kathmandu its main centre of operations is because it can rely on growing anti-India sentiment in the Himalayan nation.
Cutting across political affiliations, most leaders mouth anti-India slogans and it has turned out to be a major plank in their campaigns. Taking advantage of the anti-Indian sentiment, the ISI is making inroads into Nepali politics and daily life.
Though there is no documented evidence, one indication of the ISI's active involvement in Nepali politics is the high level of influence that Mirza Dilshad Beg, the parliamentarian who was shot down by the Chhota Rajan gang in 1998, enjoyed. But proof is hard to come by.
Former deputy prime minister Bamdev Gautam is one of those politicians averse to India. A Communist who split the main Opposition party led by Madhav Nepal, Gautam began attacking India during the Mahakali river treaty between the two countries a few years ago.
Gautam provides a unique Nepali perspective on India, holding the big brother in the neighbourhood responsible for many of his country's problems.
According to him, the Mahakali river agreement was meant to benefit India, not Nepal. He says India "captured our land for constructing dams."
He claims that allegations that the Tribhuvan airport was leased out to smugglers during his time are "unfounded and wrong."
"When I was deputy prime minister and home minister, I had tightened security there. Not even a single person could walk through freely," he says.
And what about the rampant smuggling?
"It keeps happening. How can the government and the ministers know about it? It is not just in Nepal, but a phenomenon all over the world. It is an underground economy. It is there in India also.
"It happens so much here because the India-Nepal border is open. Indians do the smuggling here and then defame Nepal. They come here and smuggle goods for India from here.
"The base for smuggling is India. If the Nepal-India border is tightened, and a permit system is begun, then smuggling will come down by at least 75 per cent. Smuggling is there because the borders are open. I have said earlier too that Nepalis aren't involved in smuggling. It is done by Indians. Indians come here, take citizenship, do some job for cover, and begin smuggling. Nepali people do not have so much money for smuggling. We also don't have so much material for smuggling."
Even the mild Opposition leader Madhav Nepal had a statement to make:
"If there is a quarrel between India and Pakistan, Nepal should not be used to settle scores.
"Indian leaders suspect that the ISI is operating from Nepali soil, but we don't think so. Some such people may be there. I am not saying there is no one. There may be ISI, RAW, CIA, KGB agents. But I don't know.
"The attitude of the Indian ruling class is not that of an equal partner. Sometimes they bully Nepal and aren't sensitive of Nepali sentiment. I myself heard Jaswant Singh saying that Nepal is involved in the hijack, and that action will be taken on that count also. He should not have said so. Because, if it is false, what will happen?
"Some bad people may be here, but the government is not involved. When he says, Nepal's involvement, it means the involvement of the government, some agency. That is totally baseless. We aren't saying all the 22 million Nepalese are good; it is the same with India."
Design: Dominic Xavier
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