European envoys' meeting with Nepalese activist sparks furore

Indo Asian News Service

Kathmandu, Jan 27 (IANS) Ambassadors of some European countries here have triggered a diplomatic storm in Nepal following their meeting last week with controversial Nepalese activist C.K. Raut.

The meeting between Raut and some EU envoys, which took place at a Kathmandu-based European diplomatic mission, has drawn flak from multiple quarters in Nepal.

Terming the EU ambassadors' meeting with Raut as a breach of diplomatic practice, the Nepalese government has warned the envoys against any kind of talks with activists in separatist movements.

Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey reminded the EU ambassadors that the diplomatic community in Nepal should conduct their activities and show the diplomatic etiquette under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities.

"I also urged the ambassadors to maintain diplomatic decorum while working in Nepal in line with the Diplomatic Code of Conduct issued by the Nepalese government," Pandey told Xinhua news agency Tuesday.

The EU envoys made it clear that they met Raut over certain human rights issues.

"The ambassadors conveyed to me that their meeting with Raut took place at Raut's request and they never approached him earlier," Pandey said.

Raut, who is known as a "secessionist leader", has been spearheading a movement to create a separate country in the southern regions of the Himalayan nation since 2011.

According to his personal website ckraut.com, Raut got a Ph.D. degree from the US and worked as a scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has been carrying out the separatist movement especially in southern Nepal after returning to his home country four years ago.

Raut, coordinator of the Alliance for Independent Madhes (AIM), has been arrested by the police several times for the anti-nationalist movement and was last released Dec 29, 2014.

Late last year, British Ambassador Andrew Sparkes had sparked controversy by questioning Nepal's commitment to secularism. In an open letter to Nepali lawmakers, Sparkes urged them "to ensure that the right to change religion is protected" in the new constitution of Nepal.