India reiterates cultural linkages with Nepal

Anurag Srivastava

Anurag Srivastava  

‘Changes in citizenship law will affect cross-border families’

India on Thursday reiterated cultural links with Nepal in response to the upcoming amendments to the Citizenship Act of Nepal which is likely to affect a large number of families that have cross-border kinship with India.

“We have seen the reports on this. People of India and Nepal share deep-rooted and familial bonds which reflect close civilisational and cultural linkages,” said Anurag Srivastava, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs.

The reiteration of ‘linkages’ came days after the ruling Nepal Communist Party decided to support amendments to the citizenship rules that will require foreign-born women marrying Nepalese men to spend at least seven years before getting citizenship.

The decision of the NCP’s secretariat to go ahead with the amendments drew prompt opposition from the Nepali Congress and the leaders from its plain areas which have extensive cross border kinship with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. India has in the past described the relation as roti-beti (bread and bride).

The current rulers of Nepal do not subscribe to the emotional aspect of bilateral ties and want it to be modified.

In an interview with WION channel, Bishnu Rijal, deputy chief of the foreign affairs department of the NCP, described roti-beti as “old rhetoric”.

“We should reset our relationship based on our mutual benefit. Nepal and India have changed. Our aspirations have changed. We should put forward some bold steps in our relationship,” said Mr. Rijal explaining his party’s position.

India has, however, maintained silence about the difficulties the amendments will cause for families with cross-border ties.

Janata Samajvadi Party, largest political outfit of Nepal led by the Madhesis, have been protesting against the amendments which had been pending for years but received the NCP’s support soon after the passing of the Second Constitutional Amendment during which all political parties voted displaying unity over the emotive issue of the new map that claimed Pithoragarh.

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