78°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bostonians Protest India’s Blockade Against Nepal

A+group+of+about+300+protest+in+Copley+Square+against+Indias+undeclared+blockade+of+Nepal.

A group of about 300 protest in Copley Square against India’s undeclared blockade of Nepal.

Although there is not an official blockade imposed by India against Nepal, the landlocked nation that depends mainly on India for gas, oil, medicine and other essential supplies for survival has been facing shortages for several months now. 
Nepal has recently adapted its new constitution, which came not too long after an overthrow of monarchy and acceptance of secularism in the country. While some are very welcoming to the new constitution, other groups in Nepal feel underrepresented. Madhesi people, who mainly reside along the Indian border and often times come from Indian ancestry, have expressed displeasure with the new constitution.
The adaptation of the constitution has caused protests and riots among the Madhesi in southern Nepal. New Delhi claims the instability at the border to be the main reason for not supplying oil, gas and other supplies to the country. According to The Hindu, “Indian officials deny there is a blockade and say drivers are afraid to enter Nepal. Nepalese authorities say there is no trouble at many cross-border checkpoints.”
The commodities were not cut short only from south Nepal, where the protests are ongoing, but the whole country has been penalized including the capital, Kathmandu.
While Nepal is still recovering from the massive earthquake in April of 2015 that left around 9,000 people dead and over 23,000 people injured, the country is being challenged with a new crisis, one that makes the recovery process even harder.
Protests against the blockade by Nepalese communities have been taking place all over the world, including New York, Kathmandu, London and Boston.
On Sunday of November 29, around 300 people gathered at Copley Square to raise awareness and speak out against the undeclared blockade.
Some of the speakers at the protest included University of Massachusetts Boston Professor, Al Leisinger, and Amy Munankarmi, a registered nurse who had worked in Nepal a few months after the earthquake. 
Professor Leisinger, who teaches math at UMass Boston, has worked in Haiti with the victims of the 2010 earthquake. He expressed concern over the blockade and shared his experience from Haiti, placing emphasis on the difficult process of recovery from natural disasters like the 7.0-7.8 magnitude earthquakes that happened in Nepal and Haiti in recent years.
Another speaker, who was among one of the first-responders to victims of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, in an isolated village two months after the disaster, spoke about her work in the Nepali hospitals. “Even at the largest hospital in Nepal, we didn’t have enough resources to provide clean bed sheets… This compelled me to continue my relationship with them and send donated medical supplies when I could, but it also speaks to the scarcity of the resources that occurs during a time when things are normal.” Munankarmi explained,  “I brought them medical supplies in June, but when I returned with more in November, I was really shocked to see the state of the hospital. All of the wards were practically empty. The burn ward, where I worked which would normally have a capacity for over 30 patients, only had five.” She explained that the reason behind that drastic change was administrative problems in the hospital, as well the blockade that made the transportation of medicine and patients to the hospital very difficult.
UMass Boston has a big community of Nepali students, as well as one of the most influential and active student clubs, the Nepali Student Association. Some of the members and their families have been directly affected by the blockade. Parmita Gurung from Belmont shared the story of her father’s visit to Nepal, “My dad was just there last month to visit his father and celebrate the Dashain festival,” Gurung said. “He told me that since there is a shortage in fuel and electricity, it was really difficult for him to travel anywhere through public transportation, bus/taxis. Businesses were slow, and many had to shut down completely because they lacked the resources to even make cups of tea.”
Another UMass Boston student who has family in Nepal, Akriti Pandit from Melrose, explained that gas might be one of the biggest problems at the moment: “A majority of the families there cook with those gas cylinders, so I know due to the blockade, the supply is really low.” Pandit continued, “I think some days my grandma has been cooking food with fire, sort of like a campfire, outside the house.”
Most of the Nepali students at UMass Boston agree that raising awareness about this humanitarian crisis could possibly help the situation. The Nepali Student Association’s work at UMass Boston after the earthquake demonstrates that the belief in helping people through raising awareness as effective. 
In the spring semester of 2015, right after the earthquake, NSA called in for an emergency meeting and through continuous efforts was able to fundraise enough to help build schools and houses for the victims in Nepal. Anamol Gurung, who is the president of the Nepali Student Association at UMass Boston, attended the anti-blockade protest and expressed a serious concern over how the blockade is affecting patients in need and students’ ability to continue attending school: “Education is a basic right of every child, and children are the future towards developing our nation, and India’s decision to impose this blockade is taking that away from thousands of students.”
In addition, Gurung believes that UMass Boston students as well as the protesters worldwide can have an influence on India’s further decisions if they spread enough awareness about the crisis. “When you have Indian students from organizations such as DSA (Desi Student Association) believe and voice their opinion against this cruel blockade imposed upon their friendly neighbor,” continued Anamol Gurung, “this should create some sort of internal awareness among Indian officials/politicians that even their own people do not think it’s right to cut off fuel, basic survival commodities and medical supplies and make their neighboring country’s people suffer.”