Nepal government dillydallies diplomatic initiatives to probe Darchula tuin incident

The government has not taken any diplomatic initiative to investigate the incident of Jai Singh Dhami falling into the Mahakali River and disappearing after personnel from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) — an Indian border patrol agency — cut off the tuin’s (an improvised traditional ropeway) cable from the Indian side as Dhami was crossing the river.

While Dhami has not yet been found, his family performed his final rites last month through symbolic rituals.

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who also helms the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has not shown any interest in sending diplomatic notes regarding the incident even a month after the incident.

The Foreign Ministry has neither called on the Indian ambassador to Nepal to understand the incident nor has the Nepali ambassador in New Delhi spoken to the Foreign Ministry there.

The Darchula District Administration had earlier sent a letter to its Indian counterpart asking to investigate into the inhumane incident that took a man’s life. However, the Indian administration has been uncooperative in investigating the case citing SSB’s non-involvement.

Meanwhile, the report prepared by Nepal’s probe committee – and submitted to the Home Ministry on Tuesday — confirmed SSB’s involvement in the incident, and has recommended authorities concerned to take legal action against the culprits.

The probe committee has also asked the government to take initiatives through diplomatic channels and ask the Indian side to provide proper compensation as well as relief to Dhami’s family.

Officials at the Foreign Ministry opine that the government could have summoned the Indian ambassador to Nepal and discussed the need to investigate the case or sent a diplomatic note in this regard to India. But that has not happened as of yet.

Former Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai said there should have been some kind of dialogue between Nepal and India in the incident’s aftermath. He said he could not believe that nothing had happened between the two countries in the face of such an inhumane incident.

“India and Nepal both have respective embassies and ambassadors in both the countries. Conducting some dialogue regarding the incident was imperative. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to wait for the report by the Home Ministry’s investigation committee before taking any diplomatic steps,” he said.

A senior official at the Nepali embassy in New Delhi said the embassy had not yet discussed the incident with the Indian side. “Unless there is a directive from the Nepali government, the embassy alone cannot speak on such serious incidents,” he said.

Nepali Ambassador to Nepal Nilambar Acharya said that he had not received any information from the official channel about the report regarding the Darchula tuin incident.

According to embassy sources, if the government sends the report to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may call the Indian Ambassador in Kathmandu and issue or send a diplomatic note. Once the information reaches the Nepali embassy in Delhi, a diplomatic note can be submitted to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

“Diplomatic dialogue with India can begin only after the government instructs the Foreign Ministry to proceed as recommended by the probe report,” said an embassy official.